Category Archives: Memorandum

Posts with the category “Memo” contain no new stuff for the Internet community but provide some useful aggregations of information for certain IT related things.

Palo Alto Reporting

I wanted to configure a weekly email report on a Palo Alto Networks firewall. “Yes, no problem”, I thought. Well, it was absolutely not that easy. ;(

While the PAN firewalls have a great GUI and a good design at all they lack an easy-to-use email reporting function, especially when compared to the FortiGate firewalls which have a great local report feature. –> If you want some stats on a weekly basis you must configure it completely from scratch. Unluckily this is not that easy since you must pass several steps for that. Therefore, I drew an outline of the Palo Alto reporting stages to have an overview of them.

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CLI Commands for Troubleshooting Juniper ScreenOS Firewalls

Yes I know, ScreenOS is “End of Everything” (EoE). However, for historical reasons I am still managing many Netscreen/ScreenOS firewalls for some customers. Similar to my troubleshooting CLI commands for Palo Alto and Fortinet I am listing the most common used commands for the ScreenOS devices as a quick reference / cheat sheet. These are only the commands that are needed for deep troubleshooting sessions that cannot be done solely on the GUI.

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By default DNSSEC uses the next secure (NSEC) resource record “to provide authenticated denial of existence for DNS data”, RFC 4034. This feature creates a complete chain of all resource records of a complete zone. While it has its usage to prove that no entry exists between two other entries, it can be used to “walk” through a complete zone, known as zone enumeration. That is: an attacker can easily gather all information about a complete zone by just using the designed features of DNSSEC.

For this reason NSEC3 was introduced: It constructs a chain of hashed and not of plain text resource records (RFC 5155). With NSEC3 enabled it is not feasible anymore to enumerate the zone. The standard uses a hash function and adds the NSEC3PARAM resource record to the zone which provides some details such as the salt.

Continue reading DNSSEC with NSEC3

DNSSEC ZSK Key Rollover

One important maintenance requirement for DNSSEC is the key rollover of the zone signing key (ZSK). With this procedure a new public/private key pair is used for signing the resource records, of course without any problems for the end user, i.e., no falsified signatures, etc.

In fact it is really simply to rollover the ZSK with BIND. It is almost one single CLI command to generate a new key with certain time ranges. BIND will use the correct keys at the appropriate time automatically. Here we go:

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SSHFP: Authenticate SSH Fingerprints via DNSSEC

This is really cool. After DNSSEC is used to sign a complete zone, SSH connections can be authenticated via checking the SSH fingerprint against the SSHFP resource record on the DNS server. With this way, administrators will never get the well-known “The authenticity of host ‘xyz’ can’t be established.” message again. Here we go:

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How to use DANE/TLSA

DNS-based Authentication of Named Entities (DANE) is a great feature that uses the advantages of a DNSSEC signed zone in order to tell the client which TLS certificate he has to expect when connecting to a secure destination over HTTPS or SMTPS. Via a secure channel (DNSSEC) the client can request the public key of the server. This means, that a Man-in-the-Middle attack (MITM) with a spoofed certificate would be exposed directly, i.e., is not possible anymore. Furthermore, the trust to certificate authorities (CAs) is not needed anymore.

In this blog post I will show how to use DANE and its DNS records within an authoritative DNS server to provide enhanced security features for the public.

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DNSSEC Signing w/ BIND

To solve the chicken-or-egg problem for DNSSEC from the other side, let’s use an authoritative DNS server (BIND) for signing DNS zones. This tutorial describes how to generate the keys and configure the “Berkeley Internet Name Domain” (BIND) server in order to automatically sign zones. I am not explaining many details of DNSSEC at all, but only the configuration and verification steps for a concrete BIND server.

It is really easy to tell BIND to do the inline signing. With this option enabled, the admin can still configure the static database for his zone files without any relation to DNSSEC. Everything with signing and maintaining is fully done by BIND without any user interaction. Great.

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DNSSEC Validation with Unbound on a Raspberry

To overcome the chicken-or-egg problem for DNSSEC (“I don’t need a DNSSEC validating resolver if there are no signed zones”), let’s install the DNS server Unbound on a Raspberry Pi for home usage. Up then, domain names are DNSSEC validated. I am listing the commands to install Unbound on a Raspberry Pi as well as some further commands to test and troubleshoot it. Finally I am showing a few Wireshark screenshots from a sample iterative DNS capture. Here we go:

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BIND DNSSEC Validation

If you are searching for a DNSSEC validating DNS server, you can use BIND to do that. In fact, with a current version of BIND, e.g. version 9.10, the dnssec-validation is enabled by default. If you are already using BIND as a recursive or forwarding/caching server, you’re almost done. If not, this is a very basic installation guide for BIND with DNSSEC validation enabled and some notes on how to test it.

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Basic BIND Installation

This is a basic tutorial on how to install BIND, the Berkeley Internet Name Domain server, on a Ubuntu server in order to run it as an authoritative DNS server. It differs from other tutorials because I am using three servers (one as a hidden primary and two slaves as the public accessible ones), as well as some security such as denying recursive lookups and public zone transfers, as well as using TSIG for authenticating internal zone transfers. That is, this post is not an absolute beginner’s guide.

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Using NetFlow with nProbe for ntopng

This blog post is about using NetFlow for sending network traffic statistics to an nProbe collector which forwards the flows to the network analyzer ntopng. It refers to my blog post about installing ntopng on a Linux machine. I am sending the NetFlow packets from a Palo Alto Networks firewall.

My current ntopng installation uses a dedicated monitoring ethernet port (mirror port) in order to “see” everything that happens in that net. This has the major disadvantage that it only gets packets from directly connected layer 2 networks and vlans. NetFlow on the other hand can be used to send traffic statistics from different locations to a NetFlow flow collector, in this case to the tool nProbe. This single flow collector can receive flows from different subnets and routers/firewalls and even VPN tunnel interfaces, etc. However, it turned out that the “real-time” functionalities of NetFlow are limited since it only refreshes flows every few seconds/bytes, but does not give a real-time look at the network. It should be used only for statistics but not for real-time troubleshooting.

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Advanced Ping: httping, dnsping, smtpping

I really love ping! It is easy to use and directly reveals whether the network works or not. Refer to Why Ping is no Security Flaw! (But your Friend) and Advanced Tracerouting. At least outgoing pings (from trust to untrust) should be allowed without any security concerns. However, many companies are denying these ICMP echo-requests from untrust into the DMZ which makes it difficult to test whether all servers are up and running.

I was sitting at the customer’s site replacing the DMZ firewall. Of course I wanted to know (from the outside) whether all servers are connected correctly (NAT) and whether the firewall permits the connections (policy). However, ping was not allowed. Therefore I used several layer 7 ping tools that generate HTTP, DNS, or SMTP sessions (instead of ICMP echo-requests) and revealed whether the services (and not only the servers) were running. Great!

This post shows the installation and usage of httping, dnsping, and smtpping on a Linux machine, in my case a Ubuntu server 14.04.4 LTS, as well as some Wireshark screenshots from captured sessions.

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Network Transfer: 1 Big vs. 100 Small Files

A common mistake when analyzing network speed/bandwidth between different applications and servers is to fully rely on the mere size of the files being transferred. In fact, one big file will transfer much faster than thousands of small files that have the same accumulated size. This depends on the overhead of reading/writing these files, building TCP/IP sessions, scanning them for viruses, etc. Furthermore, it is application dependent.

I built a small lab with an FTP server, switch, firewall, and an FTP client in which I played a bit with different file sizes. In this blog post I am showing the measured transfer times and some Wireshark graphs.

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