Saturday, June 9, 2007

Hakin9 fwknop Article

The February issue of the "Starter Kit" edition of Hakin9 Magazine contains a lengthy article on fwknop written by Raul Siles. The Starter Kit edition aims to provide introductory articles and tutorials that explain important computer security technologies from the ground up, and I think this is valuable because security is a complex field and there is generally a lack of good material of this kind. Raul's article is entitled "Knock Knock Knocking on Firewall's Door", and is featured on the magazine cover. In the article, Raul provides a history of passive authorization technologies beginning with Port Knocking and extends the discussion into the latest generation of these technologies called Single Packet Authorization. He gives detailed information about how to install and configure fwknop-1.0 on a Fedora Core 6 system, and shows how iptables in a default-drop stance for protected services do not appear underneath the watchful eyes of Nmap. Here is a short excerpt from the article:

Although port knocking and SPA can be used to protect any service and its associated ports, they are mainly used to protect and enable access to remote management protocols, and especially long running TCP sessions, such as Secure Shell, SSH (TCP port 22).

The article presents two configuration example. The first one focuses on allowing access to SSH while the second allows the client to manage remotely the rules that should be applied in the iptables firewall.

Incidentally, the same issue of Hakin9 includes coverage of the psad and fwsnort projects in another article entitled "Much More Than Just a Firewall" written by Jess Garcia. His article covers several security technologies including honeypots and snort_inline, and makes the case that firewalls can do much more than simple filtering operations on network traffic. I'm happy to see Cipherdyne projects getting more exposure in the security literature.

Techno Security SPA Talk Slides

The Techno Security 2007 conference is over, and I gave a talk entitled "Zero-day Attack Prevention via Single Packet Authorization". The major emphasis of this talk was to demonstrate some of the new capabilities offered by the 1.8 release of fwknop, including the ability to run the fwknop client on a Windows 2000 system under Cygwin and authenticate to a Linux system running the fwknopd server. This demonstration was accomplished from a single Ubuntu Linux system with a Windows 2000 instance under Vmware to execute the fwknop client. New capabilities in fwknop that I did not have time to demonstrate are the ability to run the fwknopd server on systems that use the ipfw firewall (such as FreeBSD and Mac OS X), and the usage of gpg-agent (part of the GnuPG project) to acquire passwords associated with GnuPG keys. At some point it might be interesting to devote more time to giving a lengthy demonstration of various fwknop authentication modes and features. One additional note is that I have released fwknop-1.8.1 after the conference talk to address an issue with the usage of the ipfw "keep-state" option when fwknopd creates new rules to accept connections from valid fwknop client systems; here is the ChangeLog.

You can download a PDF of my presentation slides here.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Software Release - fwknop-1.8

The 1.8 release of fwknop is ready for download. This release includes major new functionality to allow fwknop to function in server mode with ipfw firewalls on *BSD systems, and the fwknop client now runs on Windows systems under Cygwin. Here is the ChangeLog:
  • Added support for ipfw firewalls (found on *BSD systems). The IPTables::Parse and IPTables::ChainMgr modules are not installed on such systems.
  • Added gpg-agent support for both the fwknop client and fwknopd SPA server.
  • Updated client-only installation mode to restrict perl module installation to those module that are actually required by the fwknop client. This results in clean installs of the fwknop client on Windows systems running Cygwin.
  • Added --Defaults to so that fwknop can be installed without prompting the user to answer any questions. This is to make it easier to install fwknop on the Source Mage Linux distro.
  • Consolidated daemon config files into the fwknop.conf file (except for the access.conf file). This simplifies the configuration of fwknop.
  • Added recursive variable resolution in the parsing routines for the fwknop.conf file. This allows variable values to contain embedded variables.
  • Added init script for FreeBSD systems.
  • Added --BSD-install command line argument to This is not normally necessary since the installer should detect installations on *BSD systems, but this option can force this behavior.
  • Updated knopmd and knopwatchd to use safe_malloc() instead of malloc().
  • Bugfix to never time out rules from SOURCE blocks with FW_ACCESS_TIMEOUT set to zero.