Slightly less Random Ramblings

May 17, 2014

A Chat on Cybersecurity

Filed under: encryption, Firewall, OpenVPN, OpenWRT, security, Truecrypt, Windows — Robert Wicks @ 5:47 pm

I was recently interviewed by Manuel Lora for on the topic of cybersecurity. You can listen to it here.


August 21, 2013

OpenVPN Not Passing Traffic on Windows 8 Professional using UDP

Filed under: computing, encryption, OpenVPN, security, Windows — Tags: , , , , , , — Robert Wicks @ 7:25 am

Windows 8 Pro (which is the version I have. I cannot comment on other versions) appears to have an issue with a normal OpenVPN tunnel. When using UDP, my VPN does not pass traffic. It does pass that traffic when I use TCP. Additionally, a Cisco SSL VPN (also UDP based) I use does not work. After browsing about a bit, I found that the UDP encapsulation settings have an effect on this. The registry setting which needs to be changed is:


After rebooting, both of my VPNs worked, fixing an issue which nearly made me abandon Windows 8.

January 10, 2012

Thank you Asus!

Filed under: encryption, security, Truecrypt, Windows — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Robert Wicks @ 6:56 am

I bought an Asus U56E from Fry’s, which has an Intel i5-2410M CPU. The laptop has been very good, having excellent battery life and good performance. I replaced the internal optical drive with a drive caddy so that I could replace the internal drive with an SSD, but have an additional spinning drive in order to have a larger amount of space. My SSD has built-in encryption, however the spinning drive does not. I use Truecrypt. I wanted the i5 because I was under the mistaken impression that they all supported AES-NI. I later discovered that Intel has issued a microcode update for this CPU which enables the feature, but the BIOS manufacturer needed to enable it in the system BIOS. Asus has now enabled this feature in version 213 of the BIOS. Truecrypt’s benchmark performance has increased 5x since the update.

December 18, 2009

Odd Secunia PSI Result

Filed under: security, software, Windows — Robert Wicks @ 9:49 am

I did a Secunia PSI scan on my Windows 7 laptop. It found no insecure programs, but gave this strange result:
Security Threats:
Secunia System Score: [?]
Secunia PSI WorldMap:
Your Secunia System Score of 100% is 5% HIGHER than the average user from Georgia, United States.
Compared to users WITHOUT the Secunia PSI installed, your Secunia System Score is 85% WORSE – install patches now!
Last Full System Scan: [?]
3 minutes ago
How could a 100% rating be 85% worse than anything? What an odd bug. Still, I highly recommend the tool for those interested in keeping a Windows PC up to date.

December 5, 2009

Running Windows 7 as a Truecrypt Hidden Operating System

Filed under: encryption, Truecrypt, Windows — Robert Wicks @ 5:03 pm

My favorite whole drive encryption system, hands down, is Truecrypt. One of the interesting features is the notion of plausible deniability. One of the ways this deniability may be accomplished in through a hidden operating system. I don’t really need the deniability features, but I have found that the hidden operating system is useful in allowing me to keep Windows XP on my laptop, but being able to seamlessly boot into Windows 7 (I have also set up Windows 2008 Server in the same way).

I have a 160GB hard drive, which I divided into a 40 GB partition and another 120 GB partition. I have XP installed on the 40GB partition, which is my C: drive. I have another D: drive where I keep data. That’s the 120GB partition. It is important to have a similarly partitioned hard drive. It is also vital that the 120GB partition have enough space to hold all of C:, i.e., 40GB. Do a full sector level backup on the drive. I use Knoppix, then use the dd command to copy the entire /dev/sda drive to a file on a USB hard drive. You should be able to access the individual files on D:. Use ntbackup to run a backup from within Windows XP on the D: drive. Once you have all this done, you can install Windows 7 from scratch, reformatting all the partitions, but only installing on the 40GB one. Leave the 120GB partition empty.

After installing Windows 7, run Truecrypt, pull down on the system menu and select “Create Hidden Operating System . . .” Follow the prompts to create it as normal. After you delete the original partition (the last step in Truecrypt’s hidden OS creation sequence), you should then restore the boot sectors and the first partition from your backup. If you used dd, this just means booting into Knoppix and running something like:

dd if=/path/to/backup/file of=/dev/sda bs=512 count=<number of the last sector of the /dev/sda1 partition, which you can determine by running fdisk –l –u /dev/sda>

This will write over the hard drive up to the point where our outer volume which holds the hidden partition starts. When you reboot, you will boot back into your old Windows XP. It will probably freak out about not being able to get to D. Just install Truecrypt, then mount the outer volume using the outer volume password. You can then restore your backup into that volume.

Finally, encrypt the XP system. This will install the Truecrypt boot loader, where you will be able to provide either the XP decryption password or the Windows 7 decryption password in order to choose which operating system you wish to run.

This allows me to run two versions of Windows with no fear whatsoever that they will interfere with one another. Also, it gets me into the habit of performing disaster recovery backups on my laptop.

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