Category Archives: Tutorial/Howto

Blog posts within this category are always step-by-step tutorials with detailed configurations and many screenshots. Therefore, they are easy to understand.

NTP Authentication: Server Side

As already pointed out in my NTP intro blogpost Why should I run own NTP Servers? it is crucial to leverage NTP authentication to have the highest trustworthiness of your time distribution all over your network. Hence the first step is to enable NTP authentication on your own stratum 1 NTP servers, in my case two Raspberry Pis with DCF77/GPS reference clocks.

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F5 BIG-IP Application Level NTP Health Checks

When configuring a pool of NTP servers on a F5 BIG-IP load balancer you need to choose how to check if they are still up and running. There is no specific NTP monitor on a F5 BIG-IP that does an application layer health check (like there is for http or radius). The out-of-the-box options that can be used are only ICMP and UDP monitoring. Let’s first look at the pros and cons of using either (or both) of these monitors. Then let’s build a custom UDP monitor that does a better job at checking whether the NTP servers are still healthy.

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Load Balancing NTP via F5 BIG-IP LTM

As you hopefully already know, you should use at least three different NTP servers to get your time. However, there might be situations in which you can configure only one single NTP server, either via static IP addresses or via an FQDN. To overcome this single point of failure you can use an external load balancing server such as F5 LTM (in HA of course) to forward your NTP queries to one of many NTP servers. Here are some hints:

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NTP Server via GPS on a Raspberry Pi

This post shows how to use a GPS receiver with a Raspberry Pi to build a stratum 1 NTP server. I am showing how to solder and use the GPS module (especially with its PPS pin) and listing all Linux commands to set up and check the receiver and its NTP part, which is IPv6-only in my case. Some more hints to increase the performance of the server round things off. In summary this is a nice “do it yourself” project with a working stratum 1 NTP server at really low costs. Great. However, keep in mind that you should not rely on such projects in enterprise environments that are more focused on reliability and availability (which is not the case on self soldered modules and many config file edits).

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NTP Server via DCF77 on a Raspberry Pi

In this tutorial I will show how to set up a Raspberry Pi with a DCF77 receiver as an NTP server. Since the external radio clock via DCF77 is a stratum 0 source, the NTP server itself is stratum 1. I am showing how to connect the DCF77 module and I am listing all relevant commands as a step by step guide to install the NTP things. With this tutorial you will be able to operate your own stratum 1 NTP server. Nice DIY project. ;) However, keep in mind that you should only use it on a private playground and not on an enterprise network that should consist of high reliable NTP servers rather than DIY Raspberry Pis. Anyway, let’s go:

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My Network Companion: The ProfiShark

Since a couple of months I am carrying a ProfiShark 1G always with me. It’s a small network aggregation TAP that fits into my bag (unlike almost any other TAPs or switches with SPAN functionalities). It runs solely via USB 3.0, hence no additional power supply nor network port on my laptop is required to get it running.

In this post I’ll give some hints on how to use the ProfiShark 1G with Windows (read: some initial problems I had and how to solve them) as well as some use cases out of my daily work with it.

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DNSSEC KSK Emergency Rollover

In my last blogpost I showed how to perform a DNSSEC KSK rollover. I did it quite slowly and carefully. This time I am looking into an emergency rollover of the KSK. That is: What to do if your KSK is compromised and you must replace it IMMEDIATELY.

I am listing the procedures and commands I used to replace the KSK of my delegated subdomain dyn.weberdns.de with BIND. And as you might already suggest it, I am showing DNSViz graphs after every step since it greatly reveals the current DNSKEYs etc.

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DNSSEC KSK Key Rollover

Probably the most crucial part in a DNSSEC environment is the maintenance of the key-signing key, the KSK. You should rollover this key on a regular basis, though not that often as the zone signing keys, the ZSKs. I am doing a KSK rollover every 2 years.

In the following I will describe the two existing methods for a KSK rollover along with a step-by-step guide how I performed such a rollover for my zone “weberdns.de”. Of course again with many graphics from DNSViz (with “redundant edges”) that easily reveal the keys and signatures at a glance.

Note that this blogpost is NOT about the Root Zone KSK Rollover that appears in 2017/2018. It is merely about your OWN zone that is secured via DNSSEC.

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Generating SSHFP Records Remotely

Until now I generated all SSHFP resource records on the SSH destination server itself via ssh-keygen -r <name>. This is quite easy when you already have an SSH connection to a standard Linux system. But when connecting to third party products such as routers, firewalls, whatever appliances, you don’t have this option. Hence I searched and found a way to generate SSHFP resource records remotely. Here we go:

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SSHFP: FQDN vs. Domain Search/DNS-Suffix

This is actually a bad user experience problem: To generally omit the manual verification of SSH key fingerprints I am using SSHFP. With fully qualified domain names (FQDN) as the hostname for SSH connections such as ssh nb10.weberlab.de this works perfectly. However, admins are lazy and only use the hostname without the domain suffix to connect to their servers since the domain search does the rest: ssh nb10. Not so for SSHFP which fails since the default OpenSSH client does not use canonicalization for its DNS queries. Hence you must explicitly enable canonicalization for OpenSSH.

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PGP Key Distribution via DNSSEC: OPENPGPKEY

What is the biggest problem of PGP? The key distribution. This is well-known and not new at all. What is new is the OPENPGPKEY DNS resource record that delivers PGP public keys for mail addresses. If signed and verified with DNSSEC a mail sender can get the correct public key for his recipient. This solves both key distribution problems: 1) the delivery of the public key and 2) the authenticity of the key itself, i.e., that you’re using the correct key to encrypt a mail.

The “DNS-Based Authentication of Named Entities (DANE) Bindings for OpenPGP” is specified in the experimental RFC 7929. Let’s have a look on how you can add your public key into the zone file of your DNS server.

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CAA: DNS Certification Authority Authorization

I really like the kind of security features that are easy to use. The CAA “DNS Certification Authority Authorization” is one of those, specified in RFC 6844. As a domain administrator you must only generate the appropriate CAA records and you’re done. (Unlike other security features such as HPKP that requires deep and careful planning or DANE which is not used widely.) Since the check of CAA records is mandatory for CAs since 8. September 2017, the usage of those records is quite useful because it adds another layer of security.

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DNSSEC with NSEC3

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.

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