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Episode 072: Common *Sense Approach


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Be your own VPN provider with OpenBSD

  • We've covered how to build a BSD-based gateway that tunnels all your traffic through a VPN in the past - but what if you don't trust any VPN company?
  • It's easy for anyone to say "of course we don't run a modified version of OpenVPN that logs all your traffic... what are you talking about?"
  • The VPN provider might also be slow to apply security patches, putting you and the rest of the users at risk
  • With this guide, you'll be able to cut out the middleman and create your own VPN, using OpenBSD
  • It covers topics such as protecting your server, securing DNS lookups, configuring the firewall properly, general security practices and of course actually setting up the VPN

FreeBSD vs Gentoo comparison

  • People coming over from Linux will sometimes compare FreeBSD to Gentoo, mostly because of the ports-like portage system for installing software
  • This article takes that notion and goes much more in-depth, with lots more comparisons between the two systems
  • The author mentions that the installers are very different, ports and portage have many subtle differences and a few other things
  • If you're a curious Gentoo user considering FreeBSD, this might be a good article to check out to learn a bit more

Kernel W^X in OpenBSD

  • W^X, "Write XOR Execute," is a security feature of OpenBSD with a rather strange-looking name
  • It's meant to be an exploit mitigation technique, disallowing pages in the address space of a process to be both writable and executable at the same time
  • This helps prevent some types of buffer overflows: code injected into it won't execute, but will crash the program (quite obviously the lesser of the two evils)
  • Through some recent work, OpenBSD's kernel now has no part of the address space without this feature - whereas it was only enabled in the userland previously
  • Doing this incorrectly in the kernel could lead to far worse consequences, and is a lot harder to debug, so this is a pretty huge accomplishment that's been in the works for a while
  • More technical details can be found in some recent CVS commits

Building an IPFW-based router

  • We've covered building routers with PF many times before, but what about IPFW?
  • A certain host of a certain podcast decided it was finally time to replace his disappointing consumer router with something BSD-based
  • In this blog post, Kris details his experience building and configuring a new router for his home, using IPFW as the firewall
  • He covers in-kernel NAT and NATD, installing a DHCP server from packages and even touches on NAT reflection a bit
  • If you're an IPFW fan and are thinking about putting together a new router, give this post a read

Interview - Jos Schellevis - / @opnsense

The birth of OPNsense

News Roundup

On profiling HTTP

  • Adrian Chadd, who we've had on the show before, has been doing some more ultra-high performance testing
  • Faced with the problem of how to generate a massive amount of HTTP traffic, he looked into the current state of benchmarking tools
  • According to him, it's "not very pretty"
  • He decided to work on a new tool to benchmark huge amounts of web traffic, and the rest of this post describes the whole process
  • You can check out his new code on Github right now

Using divert(4) to reduce attacks

  • We talked about using divert(4) with PF last week, and this post is a good follow-up to that introduction (though unrelated to that series)
  • It talks about how you can use divert, combined with some blacklists, to reduce attacks on whatever public services you're running
  • PF has good built-in rate limiting for abusive IPs that hit rapidly, but when they attack slowly over a longer period of time, that won't work
  • The Composite Blocking List is a public DNS blocklist, operated alongside Spamhaus, that contains many IPs known to be malicious
  • Consider setting this up to reduce the attack spam in your logs if you run public services

ChaCha20 patchset for GELI

  • A user has posted a patch to the freebsd-hackers list that adds ChaCha support to GELI, the disk encryption system
  • There are also some benchmarks that look pretty good in terms of performance
  • Currently, GELI defaults to AES in XTS mode with a few tweakable options (but also supports Blowfish, Camellia and Triple DES)
  • There's some discussion going on about whether a stream cipher is suitable or not for disk encryption though, so this might not be a match made in heaven just yet

PCBSD update system enhancements

  • The PCBSD update utility has gotten an update itself, now supporting automatic upgrades
  • You can choose what parts of your system you want to let it automatically handle (packages, security updates)
  • The update system uses ZFS and Boot Environments for safe updating and bypasses some dubious pkgng functionality
  • There's also a new graphical frontend available for it


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