sábado, 29 de marzo de 2014

Dropbear SSH passwordless authentication (public key authentication).

If you want to access a remote linux server over the internet using ssh and you are concerned about security, using public key authentication and disabling the password authentication its a good option.

My scenario is that I have a Raspberry PI running a raspbmc as a media-player/home-server at my home. As I wanted to access it by ssh through the internet while keeping my personal data secure, I decided to use this option, which its actually pretty easy to use.

Step 1: Generate a public/private key pair 

You will use these keys to authenticate with the server, the server will have your public key, and whenever you want to connect to it through ssh, you use your private key.

If you already have a private/key pair that you use for other server, you can skip this part (you dont need a pair of keys for each server you use).

In linux (it can be on your computer if you are using linux, or just do it on the server through ssh), run the following command:


You will be asked for:

1) A location for the key you can use any filename. This utility will create 2 files with the name that you enter, one without any extension which its your private key, and one with extension .pub which its your public key.
2) A passphrase. Its very important to pick a safe passwords, because this passphrase its what protects the key in case anyone gets your private key file. This is something awesome, because anybody that wants to login to your servers need 2 things, the private key file PLUS the passphrase. Please dont pick 123456
3) It will ask you to confirm the passphrase

Now you have the 2 files that are your private and public key.

Step 2: Set up your public key in the server

Login to your server with your user (or maybe just root if you only use root).

You need to create a new file in "~/.ssh/authorized_keys" and copy in it the content of your public key  (its the filename that you picked with the extension .pub).

This tells the ssh server which are the public keys that are authorized to login as the current user.

Step 3: Test that you can login using your private key

Logout from the server, and try log in using your private key. This depends on the ssh client that you are using, so Im not including an explanation on how to do it on each client, but a quick google search for the client that you use will do the trick. 

This is very important because on the next step you are going to disable the password authentication, so if the public key authentication method is not working before we disable the password authentication you wont be able to login to the server again.

Step 4: Disable password authentication

Dont disable until you double checked that your public key authentication is working. 

This instructions work for dropbear ssh server

You need to edit the file "/etc/xinetd.d/ssh"

Change the line:

server_args = -i


server_args = -i -s

Thats all, your server now only accepts ssh connections authenticated using public key authentication.

lunes, 3 de marzo de 2014

Homemade Dynamic DNS Solution

In a lot of countries (Uruguay is one of them), ISPs offer domestic internet services with dynamic ips which change every some hours. In the case of Uruguay, our ISP changes our ip every 12 hours.

This makes makes things difficult for those of us who want to host some service in a computer on our house. For example, lets say that you have a computer with a webserver in your house and you want to access it outside your LAN, over the internet. In order to access the computer at your home you need your public ip (which is the ip that your ISP provides you), but this ip is constantly changing.

The solution is to have a domain pointing to your current ip, and a service that updates your domain dns entries every time your ISP changes your ip.

There are multiple commercial services out there, probably one of the most common one is "dyndns". The problem with these solutions is that they are quite expensive (specially for what they offer) and they dont work 100% of the time.

So, why dont go with the DIY option? This is the path that I took, coding a really basic python script that uses Amazon's Route 53 dns service. What amazon provides its a dns service at a low cost ($0.5 per domain/month) and it gives you an API that allows you to programmatically update the dns entries of your domain.

The basic idea is that every certain amount of time (lets say 5 mins), I do a request to a public webservice that returns my current ip in json format and if the ip changed, it updates my domain's dns entry at Amazon.

This is the python script:

from boto.route53.connection import Route53Connection
import urllib2
import json

# your amazon keys

#Get your current ip 
content = urllib2.urlopen("http://ifconfig.me/all/json").read()
decoded = json.loads(content)
external_ip = decoded['ip_addr']

#Get the current dns entry value from amazon
route53 = Route53Connection(key, access)
zone = route53.get_zone("your-domain.com")
current_dns_ip = zone.get_a("subdomain.your-domain.com.").resource_records[0]

#If your current ip is different than the value that amazon dns service has, update it
if current_dns_ip != external_ip:
        zone.update_a("subdomain.your-domain.com.", external_ip)

(The script uses "boto" which is amazon's official library for python)

Im using it in a Raspberry PI at my home, so I can access to it through ssh over the internet. I set it up as cron to run every 5 mins.

In your crontab file you just need to add (use "crontab -e" for editing your crontab rules):

*/5 * * * * /usr/bin/python /home/pi/dynamicDNS/updateDNS.py

Thats all, with this you will have your "homemade dynamic dns service".