Ubuntu: Installing Tor on Ubuntu 14.04 and 16.04

The Tor project is free software that helps protect your privacy by making it difficult for a 3rd party to analyze your network requests or link your traffic back to your network access point.  See the Tor overview page for reasons why this may be important to world citizens, corporations, or specific professions.

Simplified, this is done by using a large pool of distributed hosts and using varied and encrypted paths through these hosts to deliver your original request.

Be aware that no one is saying Tor provides fullproof anonymity on the internet, there are documented weaknesses [1,2,3].  But by now, it should be clear the security exists on a spectrum and not in absolute terms.

I will detail how to install both the Tor service and Tor browser which is designed to address the most common threats to remaining anonymous while browsing.

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Ubuntu: Using tcpdump for analysis of network traffic and port usage

tcpdump comes standard on Ubuntu servers and is an invaluable tool in determining traffic coming in and out of a host.

As network infrastructures have become more complex and security conscious, validating network flow from client hosts through potentially multiple proxies and ultimately to a destination host and port has become more important than ever.

Let me list a few of the more common use cases.

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PingIdentity: Disabling SSLv3 and weak ciphers for PingFederate

The PingFederate server provides best-in-class Identity Management and SSO.  However, due to US laws governing export of cryptography, the default SSL protocols and cipher suites need to be configured to harden the solution.

Below are the steps involved with making these post-installation changes.

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Ubuntu: Unattended Upgrades for security patches

ubuntuIf you are running an Ubuntu server for any extended period of time, security issues will arise that affect the kernel, distribution, or packages installed on that host.

While there are always minimal risks associated with automatically applying security fixes, I feel those are dwarfed by the risks of running hosts that have known security flaws.  For example, a media frenzy over the OpenSSL vulnerability Heartbleed may have forced administrators the world over to go out and manually patch their fleet of Linux hosts, but the truth is there is a constant stream of public vulnerabilities.

Expecting system administrators to manually patch each of these (in addition to their other daily tasks) is unrealistic, and therefore Ubuntu provides a simple way of scheduling unattended security updates.

First, install the unattended-upgrades package:

> sudo apt install unattended-upgrades

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Ubuntu: Determine system vulnerability for Dirty COW CVE-2016-5195

ubuntuThe Dirty COW vulnerability affects the kernel of most base Ubuntu versions.  Especially when running an Ubutu HWE stack, it can be a bit confusing to determine if your kernel and Ubuntu version are affected.

If you need to validate patching, then you can use a simple C program to exercise this read-only write vulnerability and check your system.

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