HSTS preload

If you have already started using HSTS to force users to your HTTPS website, the use of ‘preload’ is another simple addition as it only requires the addition of the keyword to the header.

Once done, you can either wait for your site to be identified (which can take a long time, or forever for less popular websites) or ideally, submit your hostname to be added to the lists preloaded in many modern browsers. The advantage here is that your users will never make a single request to your HTTP website and will automatically be directed to HTTPS.

An HTTP Header example:

Strict-Transport-Security: max-age=63072000; includeSubDomains; preload

Apache2 configuration example:

Header always set Strict-Transport-Security "max-age=31536000; includeSubDomains; preload"

REFERENCES:

Clear Linux bash history

While having history available with the simple use of the up arrow is a convenience feature common to most linux builds it can come with some risk. One such risk is when you have inadvertently typed a password instead of a command, or had to pipe credentials into a command.

Thankfully, you can clear the entire history with a variety of methods, the most common are below but others are available in the references.


history -c && history -w


cat /dev/null > ~/.bash_history && history -c && exit

REFERENCES:

Remove language packs from Windows 7

I often have to install different languages/locales on Windows 7 to perform testing in different languages, unfortuately adding all of them into a single installation can take a lot of space, particularly when using a virtual machine.

Using the usual method to ‘remove installed software’ will remove updates, but leaves the languages in place, to completely remove them you must open a command prompt and execute the following:


LPKSETUP

Select the languages you wish to remove, and click continue… it will take a while, but the languages will be removed one at a time.

REFERENCES:

“Referrer-Policy” HTTP Header

A relatively new HTTP Header that is supported by most modern browsers (except MSIE) is the “Referrer-Policy” header. There have been previous attempts to implement similar protections through use of the ‘rel’ (or ‘rev’) attributes on links to external websites. The latest approach takes a different approach and prevents leaking of internal URLs, and in some cases parameters, to external websites. This is important from a security perspective as you might maintain some sensitive information in your page urls, that would otherwise be inadvertently shared with an external website.

Clearly, you’ll need to determine your own level of security based upon your needs. Example: ‘no-referrer’ would be the most strict and would prevent the browser from sending the ‘Referer'(sic) header even to your own websites pages.

Example header values:

Referrer-Policy: no-referrer
Referrer-Policy: no-referrer-when-downgrade
Referrer-Policy: origin
Referrer-Policy: origin-when-cross-origin
Referrer-Policy: same-origin
Referrer-Policy: strict-origin
Referrer-Policy: strict-origin-when-cross-origin
Referrer-Policy: unsafe-url

Implementation can be accomplished in many ways, the most simple being and addition to your HTTP server configuration similar to the one shown below for Apache 2.x:

Header always set Referrer-Policy strict-origin

REFERENCES:

Cannot load VirtualBox after upgrading Ubuntu

If your computer uses SecureBoot, you may occasionally encounter this problem after upgrading the operating system. Thankfully, the solution is simple after some initial setup the first time.

The error generally reads something like: Could not load ‘vboxdrv’

First time:

  1. Create signing keys:

    openssl req -new -x509 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout MOK.priv -outform DER -out MOK.der -nodes -days 36500 -subj "/CN=Descriptive name/"

  2. Sign the module (vboxdrv for this example):

    sudo /usr/src/linux-headers-$(uname -r)/scripts/sign-file sha256 ./MOK.priv ./MOK.der $(modinfo -n vboxdrv)

  3. Register the keys to Secure Boot:

    sudo mokutil --import MOK.der

  4. Supply a password for later use after reboot
  5. Reboot and follow instructions to Enroll MOK (Machine Owner Key).
  6. Restart after enrolling
  7. After the reboot, you may also need to load the module:
    sudo modprobe vboxdrv

After future updates you might re-encounter the problem, then you just need:

  1. sudo /usr/src/linux-headers-$(uname -r)/scripts/sign-file sha256 ./MOK.priv ./MOK.der $(modinfo -n vboxdrv)
  2. sudo modprobe vboxdrv

REFERENCES:

Fixing the Windows 7 is not genuine message

While I’ve run various builds of Linux for many years, I still have to routinely test my work in Windows. While I often attempt to keep my laptops able to dual-boot into Windows, that only (realistically) supports only a single version of Windows. For older versions, I generally rely upon VirtualBox and can then have different configurations available when needed, while keeping my Linux apps open too!

Occasionally, I’ve had a virtual machine running a licensed copy of Windows 7 start warning that it is not activated. This can prove to be annoying for several reasons, as such I did some research and found that others have encountered the same problem and shared the below solutions.

First method:

  1. Open a command prompt in Administrator mode.
  2. Execute “slmgr -rearm”
  3. NOTE: some sites tell you to locate and remove “slui.exe” – DO NOT DO THIS!
  4. Restart Windows
  5. Problem should be resolved

Alternative – reactive with your product key:

  1. Open a command prompt in Administrator mode.
  2. Execute “slmgr –upk
  3. Execute “slmgr –ipk (your product key)
  4. Restart Windows
  5. Problem should be resolved

REFERENCES:

Remove Guest Account in Ubuntu

While the Guest session can be useful for some people, I’ve generally considered it to be security vulnerability as unauthorized users could gain physical access to some areas of your system that are not secured as well as they “should” be.

Additionally, the default behavior that allows for the username(s) to be stored and listed on the login screen are less than ideal.

Here we remove both!

  1. Create the config folder:
    sudo mkdir -p /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d
  2. Create a new config file:
    sudo vi /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/10-ubuntu.conf
  3. Add the following:

    [SeatDefaults]
    user-session=ubuntu
    greeter-show-manual-login=true
    greeter-hide-users=true
    allow-guest=false
  4. Reboot

REFERENCES:

Content-Security-Policy: block-all-mixed-content

If you are running a secure website, it’s a good idea to prevent non-secure assets from being included on your page. This can often happen through the use of content management system, or even through website vulnerabilities. A simple change in HTTP headers will help browsers to defend against them.


Content-Security-Policy: block-all-mixed-content

Most modern browsers, except MSIE, currently support this approach.
– Firefox 48+

REFERENCES

Content-Security-Policy: upgrade-insecure-requests;

As the web has been shifting to HTTPS for security and performance reasons, there are many methods to migrate users. One simple method is via the use of the Content-Security Header.


Content-Security-Policy: upgrade-insecure-requests;

Most modern browsers, except MSIE, currently support this approach.
– Chrome 43+

REFERENCES

Force cleaning of workspace during automated Maven builds

I’ve been using Maven for years, but once in a while forget to ‘clean‘ before building, resulting in old artifacts being included in the output. This can be problematic when refactoring for security items. Thankfully, it is very easy to add a ‘clean‘ step to your pom.xml to force clean each build.

BONUS – the plugin has some additional capabilities, specifically you can specify files outside of ‘target’ to be removed. This can be useful for any custom reporting or logging that you might create.

The Maven clean plug-in can be added to the pom.xml as such:

<build>
<plugins>
<plugin>
<groupId>org.apache.maven.plugins</groupId>
<artifactId>maven-clean-plugin</artifactId>
<version>${maven-clean-plugin.version}</version>
<executions>
<execution>
<id>auto-clean</id>
<phase>initialize</phase>
<goals>
<goal>clean</goal>
</goals>
</execution>
</executions>
</plugin>

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