David Westerfield

Theology, Culture, Technology, Reviews, and Other Commentary

Category: Technology (page 1 of 14)

ModSecurity and NGINX Compilation Error in Ubuntu

I had a failure recently when trying to compile ModSecurity as a standalone module for use within NGINX that seemed to be pretty consistent with what others were experiencing, from the limited number of sites that seemed to have information on this particular problem. I knew it was possible to set this up, but I also knew I was missing something.

After scanning the internet for a solution and getting some pointers from Ryan Barnett at Trustwave’s SpiderLabs, I finally found what I was looking for to get this to work.

I went through this http://www.modsecurity.org/projects/modsecurity/nginx/ and kept receiving this error:

configure: looking for Apache module support via DSO through APXS
configure: error: couldn’t find APXS

… even after I went through and made sure I had all these prerequisites installed (thanks for pointing me here Ryan): https://github.com/SpiderLabs/ModSecurity/wiki/Reference-Manual#wiki-Prerequisites.

So then I was stuck, until I just searched why anyone gets this error at all and discovered this: http://knowledge-republic.com/CRM/2981/ubuntu/ubuntu-missing-apxs-fo-compile-apache-module/

In addition to the prerequisites noted in the last link, you must install apache2-prefork-dev instead of, or in addition to, apache2-threaded-dev in order to utilize the APXS extension tool.

Once I did that, I compiled the module successfully and was able to continue on with the rest.

I’m still waiting for an easy-to-add ModSecurity module for NGINX that I can just pull down using apt-get. ;)

Twisted Pair Versus Coax – An Observance with U-verse

Though I haven’t proven this theory out yet I’ve been wondering since it seems to me to be a difference in stability. So my neighbors all around me have U-verse and have had all kinds of issues in which a U-verse tech has had to come out to resolve their issues. I’ve had basically none, with a couple of exceptions (area-wide drops). One neighbor had to have the line at the curb completely dug up and reset, but that was a different issue. When they setup my connection, I asked up front to run twisted pair from the outside to my router/gateway instead of using coax. As I understand it, unless I’m mistaken, the default is to use coax which, sure enough, all my neighbors have. As it pertains to VDSL2+ (the protocol U-verse uses), is twisted pair more stable than coax as a medium for delivery? I’m just curious, because that would be an easy thing to ask for at the beginning. I don’t know that this is the case, but I would be interested to see stats on that. Here are my numbers using twisted pair after 113 days of data/error collection:

NSA Snooping: Nothing New Under the Sun… Yet Still Just as Concerning

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/06/us-usa-wiretaps-verizon-idUSBRE95502920130606

The infamous AT&T San Francisco central office secret NSA room.My, how easily we forget history. Even recent history. 2006 wasn’t that long ago, when an AT&T technician outed the National Security Agency’s program to install Narus data siphoning devices in the AT&T central offices. At the time Bush was president. Conservatives ignored all the noise about warrantless wiretaps from their political opponents and explained it away as necessary for the war on terror (oddly enough as our own president did today). I even held that view until these revelations. Then I became concerned. Little did the conservatives realize the civil libertarians (and concerned liberals) were right all along: this will be used, not for outsiders, but for us (much like DHS, but that’s another story, though eerily related).

Now Obama is president and the tables are turned. If we go back and read the articles in which the media was (rightly) concerned about President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping as it relates to the Constitution, we see it takes on a whole new meaning now that Obama is President and conservatives are being targeted. Whether it’s Bush or Obama though (who, on this point at least, are one in the same), we are coming to find out that we’re all civil libertarians now. The government has way too much power for the good of us all. And it will never lessen its grip without a fight.

That it has been revealed Verizon has tracked (eh hem, is tracking, eh hem) millions of calls only reveals the tip of the iceberg. It goes much, much deeper and broader than that.

Below is a list of some of the stories, videos and testimony from the early to mid-2000′s forward in which all of this was brought up over and over again: NSA is siphoning and storing our data. All they can get their hands on. They siphon it, mine it, store it, create data cubes off of it, make it searchable, sort it, analyze it, report off of it. What I know from the IT world of data storage, searching and analysis, applied to private data in this context, is frightening. And now NSA is fixing to launch their Bluffdale data center in which yottabytes of data will be stored. It’s a Brave New World. Big Data isn’t just a concept in the corporate IT world, but rather very much a part of data acquisition, storage, reporting, and sorting theory by the government.

What more can be said to show this government is out of control? Not sure what else can be done, short of a serious crisis to get us to wake up. The cultural rot, the malaise, the lack of incentive, the entitlement, the willful ignorance, and most of all, the loss of gospel-truth taking hold in people’s hearts. Saddening situation.

Lord help us, seriously, if there is ever a serious crisis causing dislocation. Emergency legislation waits in the wings. You know I never have understood over the years when I talk to people about these things how they can just flippantly say, “Yeah, I’m sure they’re listening to everything,” almost in disbelief. And I reply, “No seriously, they’re siphoning our data,” so as to emphasize the fact that it is happening, I’m not talking in hypotheticals. Unfortunately it will take a series of crises to get people to wake up to the seriousness of what we’re facing politically, economically, socially, spiritually.

Securing Traffic with OpenVPN on Your iPhone or iPad

I’ve been looking at a solution for this for quite some time. Until recently, the only way to make this work was to jailbreak your phone and use GuizmOVPN or some other type of app, which of course voids your warranty. But then along came OpenVPN Connect, an app for the iPhone and the iPad that is extremely simplistic to use (well, relatively speaking for OpenVPN). It works just like any other client side setup for OpenVPN, only you move the certs and config files over through iTunes File Sharing (which is probably the more secure way to do this transaction). This is an absolutely amazing way to secure your traffic to and from an OpenVPN server, from wherever you are, using 3g/4g or Wi-Fi.

  1. Download the OpenVPN Connect app from iTunes on to your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Take a sample client.ovpn file and modify it with your particular settings to connect to your OpenVPN server. Make sure and set the cert and key names to exactly what you’ll be copying over, otherwise it won’t reference the proper files from within the config.
  3. Get your client.crt, client.key, ca.crt, ta.key, and client.ovpn files ready for moving over to your phone. (these file names are just examples)

    certs

  4. Open iTunes with your phone or device connected.
  5. Select the device on the left-hand side.

    device_itunes 

  6. Click the Apps tab at the top.

    apps_itunes

  7. Scroll down to the File Sharing section, select OpenVPN and drag n’ drop your five files (should be five at least) into the OpenVPN Documents window. Once they are moved over, go ahead and do a sync just to make sure everything is good.

    itunes

As long as everything was setup correctly in the client.ovpn file and your certs are all good, you should be able to open your app and add it as a new profile. Once the the new profile is added in the app, you should be able to connect.

ovpn_connect

Note: As an aside, if you want to secure all your traffic to and from the OpenVPN server, make sure and set this parameter before you upload the client.ovpn file: redirect-gateway def1

The downside? It eats battery life like crazy. That all may depend on your encryption level and key size though. ;) In addition, each time you want to edit the client.ovpn, you have to edit it locally on your computer and re-upload it. But considering the alternative (no VPN, PPTP, or jailbreaking your phone), this is an excellent app.

Ubuntu 12.10: Text Is Now Blank Using NoMachine/NX Client To Connect Remotely

This problem has been perplexing me for several months now, ever since I upgraded my server to 12.10 Quantal. Finally found a solution (Can’t remember the site where I found it though)! These are the instructions for a profile that’s already been configured that no longer works.

  1. Open the NX Client for Windows (in my case).
  2. In the Session section, select the session profile you originally created, that no longer works.
  3. Click Configure.
  4. Under the General tab, and the Desktop section, ensure that Unix and GNOME is selected.
  5. Now, in the same tab, in the Display section, check the box next to Use custom settings, and click Settings.
  6. Under the Performance section, check the box next to Disable the render extension.
  7. Click Ok, then on the next screen, click Save and Ok.
  8. Now try to connect!

Worked for me at least.

SharePoint Conference 2012 – Some Highlights of What’s Coming

Here are some highlights from the conference. There’s a lot more detail, but this is the good stuff I’ve gathered.

  • SP2013 RTM was released.
  • Drag and drop documents into document folder; preview documents in pop-up window (including the ability to scroll through, it’s not just an image). Really cool.
  • Drag and drop does work cross-browser. Really great news.
  • One of the coolest functions for developers and designers in SP2013: automatic HTML to master page conversion.
  • SP2013 is backward compatible with 2010 … in almost every way, from back-end to front-end (this was contradicted later as I’ll show, however for the most part, I believe it’s accurate)
  • SP2013 central admin UI is different but structure/taxonomy is the same for the most part
  • Said in keynote: custom solutions work just the same in 2013 from 2010. (Yeah, we’ll see :) )
  • New: Search-driven navigation. Intriguing and powerful.
  • Your own profile in MySites has a news feed that looks almost like Facebook and Twitter combined. You can follow certain sites or (what were once called) document libraries and it will all show up in one feed. You can then interact with others’ posts and conversations.
  • Client and server-side, they made significant reductions in I/O (on the back-end) and bandwidth (via the front-end); 40% reduction in bandwidth usage over-all; 50% reduction in SQL I/O by eliminating redundant queries and limiting the number of queries a single page makes; image compression is now 4X what it was.
  • eDiscovery: not just for SP, but also Exchange and other apps (like Project Server). You can freeze a file in its existing state, without affecting the file itself (meaning changes can still be made, but it doesn’t change the copy you’ve frozen), without user knowing it, in case of audit.
  • When versioning items, now only the delta is saved as opposed to the entire item each time. This significantly reduces SQL content DB growth.
  • Web analytics is now rolled into search. Very cool.
  • Down side: you cannot do an in-place upgrade. Only database attach. Not many people were happy about that apparently (maybe it was just me; that’s how I upgraded 2007 to 2010).
  • Down side: Office Web Apps now exists on its own, you no longer install it within SP as a service application. If upgrading, you would need to install Office Web Apps on its own server(s).
  • OWA bolts into Exchange now. Interesting.

Some pictures:

For whatever reason, I got an upgraded hotel room at Mandalay Bay; a suite, very nice:

Keynote time!

It’s amazing these are still allowed in hotels. Wonder how much longer that will last. Even Vegas still holds out hope and truth though for now.

Mandalay Bay Hotel, Luxor in the middle, and THEhotel to the left.

ClubLAX, aka ClubSPC (since M$ bought it out from 6-8pm one night); the decibel level was astounding. I’m getting old.

Bumblebee, of course.

One of the many meals where 10,000 people were served two full meals a day. Quite a serious logistical operation. Mandalay Bay pulled it off. Very impressive.

Waiting in line, for 40 minutes, with 10,000 people for Jon Bon Jovi and a lot of food; the SPC Beach Party. The lobster tacos were killer. I was too full after those to try anything else. I had to bolt early to make it to the next event …

This was the highlight for me: The @RBAConsulting Sky Party. 34th floor of the Palms Casino Resort, overlooking the strip. I overheard that this loft/suite was $40,000 a night? Good grief. Cigar rolling, drink, food, music, all overlooking Vegas. The pool went out over the edge, suspended. It was by far the coolest event I went to.

Cigar Rolling

Best shot I got …

DJ, mixin’ it up! He never did get around to the Snoop Dogg song I requested though :)

Oh yeah, and looooots of SharePoint sessions :)

OpenVPN Sharing a TCP Port with SSL on NGINX and Apache? Yeah It’s Possible

The reason I say “it’s possible” is because for the longest time I didn’t think it was because I couldn’t get anything to explain how it works. I’m absolutely baffled there isn’t more information out there about this. It seems like web managers and techs would be all over this, but there’s barely any information out there on this. I had a hard time finding documentation on OpenVPN’s site itself!

As one guy stated here (the post where I finally understood how this works) it’s not really “sharing” the port per se, but OpenVPN is deciphering between HTTP/S traffic and OpenVPN traffic and then forwarding web traffic over to another port, defined below. That’s crucial to understand.

Before I start, I want to note this doesn’t have to be done on an SSL port, as I understand it. I’m just using that as an example because it seems to be the most logical way to make it work if this is your configuration (you know, an SSL VPN going to an SSL port).

It should also be noted in this configuration example that OpenVPN, using the port-share parameter, is actually doing the listening on TCP port 443 and acting as a proxy itself that forwards non-OpenVPN traffic to the NGINX SSL port which we’ll layout below. You cannot do this utilizing UDP, that I know of.

So here’s what you do.

1) Set your NGINX or Apache listening ports. Set your NGINX standard http port 80 and SSL listening port to something OTHER than 443 … so, for arguments’ sake, let’s set it to 4443.

So it would look like this for Apache and NGINX:

For Apache, in the main httpd.conf (Windows) or in ports.conf (Ubuntu/Linux):

Listen 4443

For NGINX, in /etc/nginx/sites-available/defaults:

server {
listen 4443;

location / {
root /web/etc/blah;
}
}

Once implemented, restart your respective service, Apache or NGINX.

2) Next, you’re going to set your OpenVPN server parameters. Set your listening port to 443 from its standard 1194 and add the port-share parameter to point to the Apache or NGINX port created above. The config should look as follows now:

port 443
port-share 127.0.0.1 4443
proto tcp

OpenVPN will now be ready to accept connections over 443 and route the appropriate https/SSL traffic to Apache or NGINX.

3) Change your firewall settings. Leave your TCP port 80 rule pointing directly to Apache or NGINX. Then point your SSL rule to TCP port 443 running on your OpenVPN server. OpenVPN will now catch the traffic directed at it and decipher between OpenVPN traffic and HTTPS traffic.

4) Change the configuration in your OpenVPN clients. Point your OpenVPN clients to TCP port 443 instead of the port you were using before:

remote domain.name.com 443

or

remote [IP ADDRESS] 443

Hope it works. Cheers!

Magento 1.7 Upgrade Issue Resolved – Products Display Zero When Selecting Product Options

I have now gone through a production upgrade of Magento from version 1.4.1 to 1.7. As expected, since I did a test run in my own environment, I encountered quite a few issues along the way, not merely limited to database upgrade issues which were a big enough of a problem themselves.

One of the issues I ran into that is now resolved was related to the individual product pages. When you selected a customized option for a product, such as a certain size, color, or other option, the price would change to zero. After researching the issue for a while, I came up with only other people having the same problem, but no solutions. Until this evening.

I came across this thread: http://www.magentocommerce.com/boards/viewthread/280283/P0/

I’ve also updated another thread in which I posted where someone else had the same problem: http://www.magentocommerce.com/boards/viewthread/284168/

The fix:

Replace

app/design/frontend/[YOURTEMPLATE]/catalog/products/view/options.phtml

with the same file located in:

app/design/frontend/base/default/template/catalog/product/view/options.phtml

 

Motorola NVG510: Flaky Security?

Apparently, after resetting the Motorola NVG510, it allows you right into the restricted areas without a password. Well, let me rephrase that in anecdotal terms. It let me in with no password. I was able to add NAT rules, change the wireless settings and number of other things. After a few minutes, it then locked me out and forced me to login. It’s been that way ever since fortunately, but why in the world would it allow me in without a password? And no, I didn’t have the password saved in my browser. On top of the connection issues I’ve experienced with this RG, the security issue described here adds one more layer of flakiness that deserves some attention. Anyone else out there experiencing this?

AT&T Re-Blocking Outgoing Email Port 25 for Uverse Customers?

(FYI: When I first had Uverse setup, they allowed me to open SMTP port 25. This problem started when it was inadvertently blocked again recently. Long story short, there were other reports of this happening. Below is the process of trying to get it unblocked again.)

I have come to the realization tonight that my mail server has not been sending out emails since February 17th. I hopped on AT&T’s Uverse chat support and was informed (after connecting to a second tech for a possible different answer because, you know, not all techs know the same things) that AT&T is now blocking outbound SMTP port 25 for Uverse customers. I initially had the port opened on my account to allow outbound email for my mail server. But it doesn’t work now as of February 17. And if you want to have this port opened now, you must contact their Connectech team to unblock it. The number, as of now, is 1-866-294-3464, or you can apparently connect with their chat service here: https://chatnow.att.com/. If you send me an email directly right now, I’ll try to respond another way in the mean time.

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UPDATE 1: Okay this is rich. So I contacted Connectech via the chat app (which is an exe download, similar to TeamViewer), chatted with the tech about the problem and was asked if I had purchased a support plan. I said, no, I just need my port 25 opened again. He said, I can’t help you unless you have a package purchased (paraphrasing all of the aforementioned).

So let me get this straight: I already pay AT&T Uverse a larger amount of money for their technology (okay fine, whatever) than the other guys. I pay for support too when I have a problem, support that comes with my service. AT&T decides to block outbound port 25. To get it open, I can’t just call the regular support anymore. I have to call their outsourced “professional techs” to flip a switch. And in the process, at least pay them $20 more a month. You’ve gotta be kidding me? This is a new low for AT&T customer service. Ever heard of corporate communism? With their level of bureaucracy, red tape and hoops to jump through to get something done, for the one’s they’re supposed to be servicing, I can’t think of a better term. Or how about inefficiency?

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UPDATE 2: So after having blogged and tweeted this issue, I have received two responses from AT&T techs saying they can help. They asked me to direct message them on Twitter now with my account information. And although they are still tweeting others with issues, they will not respond. I don’t get it. Still waiting though …

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UPDATE 3: A social media guy (Mike A) from AT&T contacted me directly about the issue and is getting the ball rolling. Appreciate it!

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UPDATE 4: After receiving a call, I have yet to hear anything about a possible resolution or whether it is even still being looked at. I’ve called twice, left messages, with no response. Benefit of the doubt: could be very busy.

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UPDATE 5: Received a call from Mike A a little while ago at the social media team at AT&T and they let me know they have resolved the problem, port 25 is not being blocked anymore. There were apparently other reports of this happening and they are handling it on a case by case basis. Appreciate the help, Mike A, at @ATTTeamNatasha!

 

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