Posts Tagged ‘access’

How to fix rkhunter checking dev for suspisiocus files, solve rkhunter checking if SSH root access is allowed warning

Friday, November 20th, 2020


On a server if you have a rkhunter running and you suddenly you get some weird Warnings for suspicious files under dev, like show in in the screenshot and you're puzzled how comes this happened as so far it was not reported before the regular package patching update conducted …

root@haproxy-server ~]# rkhunter –check


To investigate further I've checked rkhunter produced log /var/log/rkhunter.log for a verobose message and found more specifics there on what is the exact files which rkhunter finds suspicious.
To further investigate what exactly are this suspicious files for or where, they're used for something on the system or in reality it is a hacker who hacked our supposibly PCI compliant system,
I've used the good old fuser command which is capable to show which system process is actively using a file. To have fuser report for each file from /var/log/rkhunter.log with below shell loop:

[root@haproxy-server ~]#  for i in $(tail -n 50 /var/log/rkhunter/rkhunter.log|grep -i /dev/shm|awk '{ print $2 }'|sed -e 's#:##g'); do fuser -v $i; done
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     hacluster   1851 ….m attrd
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     root       1844 ….m pacemakerd
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     root       1844 ….m pacemakerd
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     root       1844 ….m pacemakerd
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     root       1844 ….m pacemakerd
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     root       1844 ….m pacemakerd
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     root       1844 ….m pacemakerd
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     root       1844 ….m pacemakerd
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     root       1844 ….m pacemakerd
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     root       1844 ….m pacemakerd
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     root       1844 ….m pacemakerd
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     root       1844 ….m pacemakerd
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     root       1844 ….m pacemakerd
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     root       1844 ….m pacemakerd
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     root       1844 ….m pacemakerd
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     root       1844 ….m pacemakerd
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     root       1844 ….m pacemakerd
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     root       1844 ….m pacemakerd
                     BEN.        PID ZUGR.  BEFEHL
                     root       1783 ….m corosync
                     root       1844 ….m pacemakerd

As you see from the output all the /dev/shm/qb/ files in question are currently opened by the corosync / pacemaker and necessery for proper work of the haproxy cluster processes running on the machines.

How to solve the /dev/ suspcisios files rkhunter warning?

To solve we need to tell rkhunter not check against this files this is done via  /etc/rkhunter.conf first I thought this is done by EXISTWHITELIST= but then it seems there is  a special option for rkhunter whitelisting /dev type of files only ALLOWDEVFILE.

Hence to resolve the warning for the upcoming planned early PCI audit and save us troubles we had to add on running OS which is CentOS Linux release 7.8.2003 (Core) in /etc/rkhunter.conf



# rkhunter –check

and Voila, the warning should be no more.


Another thing is on another machine the warnings produced by rkhunter were a bit different as rkhunter has mistakenly detected the root login is enabled where in reality PermitRootLogin was set to no in /etc/ssh/sshd_config


As the problem was experienced on some machines and on others it was not.
I've done the standard boringconfig comparison we sysadmins do to tell
why stuff differs.
The result was on first machine where we had everything working as expected and
PermitRootLogin no was recognized the correct configuration was:

— SNAP —
— END —

On the second server where the problem was experienced the values was:

— SNAP —
— END —

Note that, the warning produced regarding the rsyslog remote logging is allowed is perfectly fine as, we had enabled remote logging to a central log server on the machines, this is done with:

This is done with config options under /etc/rsyslog.conf

# Configure Remote rsyslog logging server

Improve wordpress admin password encryption authentication keys security with WordPress Unique Authentication Keys and Salts

Friday, October 9th, 2020


Having a wordpress blog or website with an admistrator and access via a Secured SSL channel is common nowadays. However there are plenty of SSL encryption leaks already out there and many of which are either slow to be patched or the hosting companies does not care enough to patch on time the libssl Linux libraries / webserver level. Taking that in consideration many websites hosted on some unmaintained one-time run not-frequently updated Linux servers are still vulneable and it might happen that, if you paid for some shared hosting in the past and someone else besides you hosted the website and forget you even your wordpress installation is still living on one of this SSL vulnerable hosts. In situations like that malicious hackers could break up the SSL security up to some level or even if the SSL is secured use MITM (MAN IN THE MIDDLE) attack to simulate your well secured and trusted SSID Name WIFi network to  redirects the network traffic you use (via an SSL transparent Proxy) to connect to WordPress Administrator Dashbiard via Once your traffic is going through the malicious hax0r even if you haven't used the password to authenticate every time, e.g. you have saved the password in browser and WordPress Admin Panel authentication is achieved via a Cookie the cookies generated and used one time by Woddpress site could be easily stealed one time and later from the vicious 1337 h4x0r and reverse the hash with an interceptor Tool and login to your wordpress …

Therefore to improve the wordpress site security it very important to have configured WordPress Unique Authentication Keys and Salts (known also as the WordPress security keys).

They're used by WordPress installation to have a uniquely generated different key and Salt from the default one to the opened WordPress Blog / Site Admin session every time.

So what are the Authentication Unique Keys and Salts and why they are Used?

Like with almost any other web application, when PHP session is opened to WordPress, the code creates a number of Cookies stored locally on your computer.

Two of the cookies created are called:


First  cookie is used only in the admin pages (WordPress dashboard), while the second cookie is used throughout WordPress to determine if you are logged in to WordPress or not. Note: [hash] is a random hashed value typically assigned to your session, therefore in reality the cookies name would be named something like wordpress_ffc02f68bc9926448e9222893b6c29a9.

WordPress session stores your authentication details (i.e. WordPress username and password) in both of the above mentioned cookies.

The authentication details are hashed, hence it is almost impossible for anyone to reverse the hash and guess your password through a cookie should it be stolen. By almost impossible it also means that with today’s computers it is practically unfeasible to do so.

WordPress security keys are made up of four authentication keys and four hashing salts (random generated data) that when used together they add an extra layer to your cookies and passwords. 

The authentication details in these cookies are hashed using the random pattern specified in the WordPress security keys. I will not get into too much details but as you might have heard in Cryptography Salts and Keys are important – an indepth explanation on Salts Cryptography (here). A good reading for those who want to know more on how does the authentication based and salts work is on stackexchange.

How to Set up Salt and Key Authentication on WordPress

To be used by WP Salts and Key should be configured under wp-config.php usually they look like so:


!!! Note !!!  that generating (manually or generated via a random generator program), the definition strings you have to use a random string value of more than 60 characters to prevent predictability 

The default on any newly installed WordPress Website is to have the 4 definitions with _KEY and the four _SALTs to be unconfigured strings looks something like:


Most people never ever take a look at wp-config.php as only the Web GUI Is used for any maintainance, tasks so there is a great chance that if you never heard specifically by some WordPress Security Expert forum or some Security plugin (such as WP Titan Anti Spam & Security) installed to report the WP KEY / SALT you might have never noticed it in the config.

There are 8 WordPress security keys in current WP Installs, but not all of them have been introduced at the same time.
Historically they were introduced in WP versions in below order:

WordPress 2.7: NONCE_KEY

Setting a custom random generated values is an easy task as there is already online Wordpress Security key Random generator.
You can visit above address and you will get an automatic randomly generated values which could be straight copy / pasted to your wp-config.php.

Howeever if you're a paranoic on the guessability of the random generator algorithm, I would advice you use the generator and change some random values yourself on each of the 8 line, the end result in the configuration should be something similar to:


define('AUTH_KEY',         '|w+=W(od$V|^hy$F5w)g6O-:e[WI=NHY/!Ez@grd5=##!;jHle_vFPqz}D5|+87Q');
define('SECURE_AUTH_KEY',  'rGReh.<%QBJ{DP )p=BfYmp6fHmIG~ePeHC[MtDxZiZD;;_OMp`sVcKH:JAqe$dA');
define('LOGGED_IN_KEY',    '%v8mQ!)jYvzG(eCt>)bdr+Rpy5@t fTm5fb:o?@aVzDQw8T[w+aoQ{g0ZW`7F-44');
define('NONCE_KEY',        '$o9FfF{S@Z-(/F-.6fC/}+K 6-?V.XG#MU^s?4Z,4vQ)/~-[D.X0<+ly0W9L3,Pj');
define('AUTH_SALT',        ':]/2K1j(4I:DPJ`(,rK!qYt_~n8uSf>=4`{?LC]%%KWm6@j|aht@R.i*ZfgS4lsj');
define('SECURE_AUTH_SALT', 'XY{~:{P&P0Vw6^i44Op*nDeXd.Ec+|c=S~BYcH!^j39VNr#&FK~wq.3wZle_?oq-');
define('LOGGED_IN_SALT',   '8D|2+uKX;F!v~8-Va20=*d3nb#4|-fv0$ND~s=7>N|/-2]rk@F`DKVoh5Y5i,w*K');
define('NONCE_SALT',       'ho[<2C~z/:{ocwD{T-w+!+r2394xasz*N-V;_>AWDUaPEh`V4KO1,h&+c>c?jC$H');



Once above defines are set, do not forget to comment or remove old AUTH_KEY / SECURE_AUTH_KEY / LOGGED_IN_KEY / AUTH_SALT / SECURE_AUTH_SALT / LOGGED_IN_SALT /NONCE_SALT keys.

The values are configured one time and never have to be changed, WordPress installation automatic updates or Installed WP Plugins will not tamper the value with time.
You should never expand or show your private generated keys to anyone otherwise this could be used to hack your website site.
It is also a good security practice to change this keys, especially if you have some suspects someone has somehow stolen your wp-onfig keys. 


Having AUTH KEYs and Properly configured is essential step to improve your WordPress site security. Anytime having any doubt for a browser hijacked session (or if you have logged in) to your /wp-admin via unsecured public Computer with a chance of a stolen site cookies you should reset keys / salts to a new random values. Setting the auth keys is not a panacea and frequent WP site core updates and plugins should be made to secure your install. Always do frequent audits to WP owned websites with a tool such as WPScan is essential to keep your WP Website unhacked.



Check server Internet connectivity Speedtest from Linux terminal CLI

Friday, August 7th, 2020


If you are a system administrator of a dedicated server and you have no access to Xserver Graphical GNOME / KDE etc. environment and you wonder how you can track the bandwidth connectivity speed of remote system to the internet and you happen to have a modern Linux distribution, here is few ways to do a speedtest.

1. Use speedtest-cli command line tool to test connectivity


speedtest-cli is a tiny tool written in python, to use it hence you need to have python installed on the server.
It is available both for Redhat Linux distros and Debians / Ubuntus etc. in the list of standard installable packages.

a) Install speedtest-cli on Fedora / CentOS / RHEL

On CentOS / RHEL / Scientific Linux lower than ver 8:



$ sudo yum install python

On CentOS 8 / RHEL 8 user type the following command to install Python 3 or 2:



$sudo yum install python3
$ sudo yum install python2




On Fedora Linux version 22+



$ sudo dnf install python
$ sudo dnf install pytho3


Once python is at place download or in case if link is not reachable download mirrored version of on here



$ wget -O speedtest-cli
$ chmod +x speedtest-cli


Then it is time to run script speedtest-screenshot-linux-terminal-console-cli-cmd
To test enabled Bandwidth on the server



$ python speedtest-cli

b) Install speedtest-cli on Debian

On Latest Debian 10 Buster speedtest is available out of the box in regular .deb repositories, so fetch it with apt


# apt install –yes speedtest-cli


You can give now speedtest-cli a try with –bytes arguments to get speed values in bytes instead of bits or if you want to generate an image with test results in picture just like it will appear if you use inside a gui browser, use the –share option





2. Getting connectivity results of all defined speedtest test City Locations

Speedtest has a list of servers through which a Upload and Download speed is tested, to run speedtest-cli to test with each and every server and get a better picture on what kind of connectivity to expect from your server towards the closest region capital cities, fetch speedtest-servers.php list and use a small shell loop below is how:






root@pcfreak:~#  wget
–2020-08-07 16:31:34–
Преобразувам (…,,, …
Connecting to (||:80… успешно свързване.
HTTP изпратено искане, чакам отговор… 301 Moved Permanently
Адрес: [следва]
–2020-08-07 16:31:34–
Connecting to (||:443… успешно свързване.
HTTP изпратено искане, чакам отговор… 307 Temporary Redirect
Адрес: [следва]
–2020-08-07 16:31:35–
Преобразувам (…
Connecting to (||:443… успешно свързване.
HTTP изпратено искане, чакам отговор… 200 OK
Дължина: 211695 (207K) [text/xml]
Saving to: ‘speedtest-servers.php’
speedtest-servers.php                  100%[==========================================================================>] 206,73K  –.-KB/s    in 0,1s
2020-08-07 16:31:35 (1,75 MB/s) – ‘speedtest-servers.php’ saved [211695/211695]

Once file is there with below loop we extract all file defined servers id="" 's 

root@pcfreak:~# for i in $(cat speedtest-servers.php | egrep -Eo 'id="[0-9]{4}"' |sed -e 's#id="##' -e 's#"##g'); do speedtest-cli  –server $i; done
Retrieving configuration…
Testing from Vivacom (…
Retrieving server list…
Retrieving information for the selected server…
Hosted by Telecoms Ltd. (Varna) [38.88 km]: 25.947 ms
Testing download speed……………………………………………………………………..
Download: 57.71 Mbit/s
Testing upload speed…………………………………………………………………………………………
Upload: 93.85 Mbit/s
Retrieving configuration…
Testing from Vivacom (…
Retrieving server list…
Retrieving information for the selected server…
Hosted by GMB Computers (Constanta) [94.03 km]: 80.247 ms
Testing download speed……………………………………………………………………..
Download: 35.86 Mbit/s
Testing upload speed…………………………………………………………………………………………
Upload: 80.15 Mbit/s
Retrieving configuration…
Testing from Vivacom (…




For better readability you might want to add the ouput to a file or even put it to run periodically on a cron if you have some suspcion that your server Internet dedicated lines dies out to some general locations sometimes.

3. Testing UPlink speed with Download some big file from source location

In the past a classical way to test the bandwidth connectivity of your Internet Service Provider was to fetch some big file, Linux guys should remember it was almost a standard to roll a download of Linux kernel source .tar file with some test browser as elinks / lynx / w3c.
speedtest-screenshot-kernel-org-shot1 speedtest-screenshot-kernel-org-shot2
or if those are not at hand test connectivity on remote free shell servers whatever file downloader as wget or curl was used.
Analogical method is still possible, for example to use wget to get an idea about bandwidtch connectivity, let it roll below 500 mb from to /dev/null few times:


$ wget –output-document=/dev/null

$ wget –output-document=/dev/null

$ wget –output-document=/dev/null


# wget -O /dev/null –progress=dot:mega ; date
–2020-08-07 13:56:49–
Resolving (…
Connecting to (||:80… connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response… 200 OK
Length: 10485760 (10M) [application/octet-stream]
Saving to: ‘/dev/null’

     0K …….. …….. …….. …….. …….. …….. 30%  142M 0s
  3072K …….. …….. …….. …….. …….. …….. 60%  179M 0s
  6144K …….. …….. …….. …….. …….. …….. 90%  204M 0s
  9216K …….. ……..                                    100%  197M=0.06s

2020-08-07 13:56:50 (173 MB/s) – ‘/dev/null’ saved [10485760/10485760]

Fri 07 Aug 2020 01:56:50 PM UTC

To be sure you have a real picture on remote machine Internet speed it is always a good idea to run download of random big files on a certain locations that are well known to have a very stable Internet bandwidth to the Internet backbone routers.

4. Using Simple shell script to test Internet speed

Fetch and use


wget && chmod u+x && bash



5. Using iperf to test connectivity between two servers 


iperf is another good tool worthy to mention that can be used to test the speed between client and server.

To use iperf install it with apt and do on the server machine to which bandwidth will be tested:


# iperf -s 


On the client machine do:


# iperf -c 


where is the IP of the server where iperf was spawned to listen.

6. Using Netflix fast to determine Internet connection speed on host


fast is a service provided by Netflix. Its web interface is located at and it has a command-line interface available through npm (npm is a package manager for nodejs) so if you don't have it you will have to install it first with:

# apt install –yes npm


Note that if you run on Debian this will install you some 249 new nodejs packages which you might not want to have on the system, so this is useful only for machines that has already use of nodejs.


$ fast


     82 Mbps ↓

The command returns your Internet download speed. To get your upload speed, use the -u flag:


$ fast -u


   ⠧ 80 Mbps ↓ / 8.2 Mbps ↑


7. Use speedometer / iftop to measure incoming and outgoing traffic on interface

If you're measuring connectivity on a live production server system, then you might consider that the measurement output might not be exactly correct especially if you're measuring the Uplink / Downlink on a Heavy loaded webserver / Mail Server / Samba or DNS server.
If this is the case a very useful tools to consider to extract the already taken traffic used on your Incoming and Outgoing ( TX / RX ) Network interfaces
are speedometer and iftop, they're present and installable depending on the OS via yum / apt or the respective package manager.


To install on Debian server:




# apt install –yes iftop speedometer


The most basic use to check the live received traffic in a nice Ncurses like text graphic is with: 





# speedometer -r 


To generate real time ASCII art graph on RX / TX traffic do:



# speedometer -r eth0 -t eth0






# iftop -P -i eth0









Linux: Howto Disable logging for all VirtualHosts on Apache and NGINX Webservers one liner

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

Did you happen to administer Apache Webservers or NGINX webservers whose logs start to grow so rapidly that are flooding the disk too quickly?
Well this happens sometimes and it also happens that sometimes you just want to stop logging especially, to offload disk writting.

There is an easy way to disable logging for requests and errors (access_log and error_log usually residing under /var/log/httpd or /var/log/nginx ) for  all configured Virtual Domains with a short one liner, here is how.

Before you start  Create backup of /etc/apache2/sites-enabled / or /etc/nginx to be able to revert back to original config.

# cp -rpf /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/ ~/

# cp -rpf /etc/nginx/ ~/

1. Disable Logging for All  Virtual Domains configured for Apache Webserver

First lets print what the command will do to make sure we don't mess something

# find /home/hipo/sites-enabled/* -exec echo sed -i 's/#*[Cc]ustom[Ll]og/#CustomLog/g' {} \;

You will get some output like

find /home/hipo//sites-enabled/* -exec echo sed -i 's/#*[Cc]ustom[Ll]og/#CustomLog/g' {} \;

find /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/* -exec sed -i 's/#*[Cc]ustom[Ll]og/#CustomLog/g' {} \;
find /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/* -exec sed -i 's/#*[Ee]rror[Ll]og/#ErrorLog/g' {} \;

2. Disable Logging for All configured Virtual Domains for NGINX Webserver

find /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/* -exec sed -i 's/#*access_log/#access_log/g' {} \;
find /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/* -exec sed -i 's/#*error_log/#error_log/g' {} \;

f course above substituations that will comment out with '#' occurances from file configs of only default set access_log and error_log / access.log, error.log 
for machines where there is no certain convention on file naming and there are multiple domains in custom produced named log files this won't work.

This one liner was inspired from a friend's daily Martin Petrov. Martin blogged initially about this nice tip for those reading Cyrillic check out, so. Thanks Marto ! 🙂

Report haproxy node switch script useful for Zabbix or other monitoring

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

For those who administer corosync clustered haproxy and needs to build monitoring in case if the main configured Haproxy node in the cluster is changed, I've developed a small script to be integrated with zabbix-agent installed to report to a central zabbix server via a zabbix proxy.
The script  is very simple it assumed DC1 variable is the default used haproxy node and DC2 and DC3 are 2 backup nodes. The script is made to use crm_mon which is not installed by default on each server by default so if you'll be using it you'll have to install it first, but anyways the script can easily be adapted to use pcs cmd instead.

Below is the bash shell script:

UserParameter=active.dc,f=0; for i in $(sudo /usr/sbin/crm_mon -n -1|grep -i 'Node ' |awk '{ print $2 }'); do ((f++)); DC[$f]="$i"; done; \
DC=$(sudo /usr/sbin/crm_mon -n -1 | grep 'Current DC' | awk '{ print $1 " " $2 " " $3}' | awk '{ print $3 }'); \
if [ “$DC” == “${DC[1]}” ]; then echo “1 Default DC Switched to ${DC[1]}”; elif [ “$DC” == “${DC[2]}” ]; then \
echo "2 Default DC Switched to ${DC[2]}”; elif [ “$DC” == “${DC[3]}” ]; then echo “3 Default DC: ${DC[3]}"; fi

To configure it with zabbix monitoring it can be configured via UserParameterScript.

The way I configured  it in Zabbix is as so:

1. Create the userpameter_active_node.conf

Below script is 3 nodes Haproxy cluster

# cat > /etc/zabbix/zabbix_agentd.d/userparameter_active_node.conf

UserParameter=active.dc,f=0; for i in $(sudo /usr/sbin/crm_mon -n -1|grep -i 'Node ' |awk '{ print $2 }'); do ((f++)); DC[$f]="$i"; done; \
DC=$(sudo /usr/sbin/crm_mon -n -1 | grep 'Current DC' | awk '{ print $1 " " $2 " " $3}' | awk '{ print $3 }'); \
if [ “$DC” == “${DC[1]}” ]; then echo “1 Default DC Switched to ${DC[1]}”; elif [ “$DC” == “${DC[2]}” ]; then \
echo "2 Default DC Switched to ${DC[2]}”; elif [ “$DC” == “${DC[3]}” ]; then echo “3 Default DC: ${DC[3]}"; fi

Once pasted to save the file press CTRL + D

The version of the script with 2 nodes slightly improved is like so:

UserParameter=active.dc,f=0; for i in $(sudo /usr/sbin/crm_mon -n -1|grep -i 'Node ' |awk '{ print $2 }' | sed -e 's#:##g'); do DC_ARRAY[$f]=”$i”; ((f++)); done; GET_CURR_DC=$(sudo /usr/sbin/crm_mon -n -1 | grep ‘Current DC’ | awk ‘{ print $1 ” ” $2 ” ” $3}’ | awk ‘{ print $3 }’); if [ “$GET_CURR_DC” == “${DC_ARRAY[0]}” ]; then echo “1 Default DC ${DC_ARRAY[0]}”; fi; if [ “$GET_CURR_DC” == “${DC_ARRAY[1]}” ]; then echo “2 Default Current DC Switched to ${DC_ARRAY[1]} Please check “; fi; if [ -z “$GET_CURR_DC” ] || [ -z “$DC_ARRAY[1]” ]; then printf "Error something might be wrong with HAProxy Cluster on  $HOSTNAME "; fi;

The script with a bit of more comments as explanations is available here 
2. Configure access for /usr/sbin/crm_mon for zabbix user in sudoers


# vim /etc/sudoers

zabbix          ALL=NOPASSWD: /usr/sbin/crm_mon

3. Configure in Zabbix for active.dc key Trigger and Item


Howto Pass SSH traffic through a Secured Corporate Proxy server with corkscrew, using sshd as a standalone proxy service with no proxy installed on remote Linux server or VPS

Tuesday, November 19th, 2019

howto pass ssh traffic through proxy to remote server use remote machine as a proxy for connecting to the Internet

Working in the big bad corporate world (being employed in  any of the Fortune 500) companies, especially in an IT delivery company is a nasty thing in terms of User Personal Data Privacy because usually when employeed in any of a corporation, the company ships you with a personal Computer with some kind of pre-installed OS (most often this is Windows) and the computer is not a standalone one but joined in Active Directory (AD) belonging to Windows Domain and centrally administered by whoever.

As part of the default deplyed configuration in this pre-installed OS and software is that part or all your network traffic and files is being monitored in some kind of manner as your pre-installed Windows or Linux notebook given by the Corporation is having a set of standard software running in the background, and even though you have Windows Administrator there are many things you have zero control or even if you have changed it once the Domain Policy is triggered your custom made changes / Installed Programs that happen to be against the company policy are being automatically deleted, any registry changes made are being rewinded etc. Sometimes even by trying to manually clean up your PC from the corporate crapware,  you might breaks access to the corporate DMZ firewalled network. A common way to secure their employee PC data large companies have a Network seperation, your PC when not connected to the Corporate VPN is having a certain IP configuration and once connected to the Demilitarized Zone VPN those configuration changes and the PC have access to internal company infrastructure servers / router / switches / firewalls / SANs etc. Access to corporate Infrastructure is handled via crypted VPN clinet such as Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client which is perhaps one of the most used ones out there.

Part of the common software installed to Monitor your PC for threats / viruses / trojans among which is MCafee / EMET (Enhandced Mitigation Experience Toolkit) the PC is often prebundled with some kind of anti-malware (crapware) :). But the tip of the iceberg on user surveillance where most of surveillance happens is the default installed proxy on the PC which usually does keep track of all your remote accessed HTTP Website URLs accessed in plain text – traffic flowing on Port 80 and crypted one on standard (SSL) Port 443. This Web Traffic is handled by the Central Corporate proxy that is being deployed via some kind of Domain policy, every time the Computer joins the Windows domain. 

This of course is a terrible thing for your Browsing security and together with the good security practice to run your browser in Incognito mode, which makes all your browsing activity such as access URLs History or Saved Cookies data to be cleared up on a Browser close it is important to make sure you run your own personal traffic via a separate browser which you will use only for your own concern browsing such as Accessing your Bank Money Accounts to check your Monthly Sallary / Purchase things online via /, whether all of the rest traffic company related is trafficed via the default set corporate central proxy.
This is relatively easy sometimes in companies, where security is not of a top concern but in corporations with tightened security accessing remote proxy, or accessing even common daily news and Public Email websites or social media sites / Twitter / Youtube will be filtered so the only way to reach them will be via some kind of Proxy and often this proxy is the only way out to the Free world from the corporate jail.

Here is where the good old SSH comes as a saving grace as it turns out SSH traffic could be trafficed over a proxy. In below article I will give you a short insight on how Proxy through SSH could be achieved to Secure your dailty web traffic and use SSH to reach your own server on the Internet as well as how you can copy securely data via SSH through corporate Proxy. 

1. How to view your corporate used (default) proxy / Check Proxy.pac file definitions


To get an idea what is the used proxy on your Corporate PC (as most corporate employee given notebooks are running some kind of M$ Windows)  you can go to:

Windows Control Panel -> Internet Options -> Connections -> Lan Settings


Under the field Proxy server (check out the Proxy configured Address and Port number )


Having that as browsers venerate the so-called Proxy.pac file, to be rawly aware on some general Company Proxy configured definitions you can access in a browser the proxy itself fething the proxy.pac file for example.




This is helpful as some companies Proxies have some proxy rules that reveal some things about its Internet architecture and even some have some badly configured proxy.pac files which could be used to fool the proxy under some circumstances 🙂

2. Few of the reasons corporations proxy all their employee's work PC web traffic


The corporate proxying of traffic has a number of goals, some of which are good hearted and others are for mostly spying on the users.


1. Protect Corporate Employees from malicious Viruses / Trojans Horses / Malware / Badware / Whatever ware – EXCELLENT
2. Prevent users from acessing a set of sources that due to the corporate policy are considered harmful (e.g. certain addresses 
of information or disinformation of competitors, any Internet source that might preach against the corporation, hacking ralated websites etc.) – NOT GOOD (for the employee / user) and GOOD for the company
3.Spy on the users activity and be able to have evidence against the employee in case he decided to do anything harmful to the company evidences from proxy could even later be used in court if some kind of corpoate infringment occurs due to misbehave of the employee. – PERFECT FOR COMPANY and Complete breach of User privacy and IMHO totally against European Union privacy legislation such as GDRP
4. In companies that are into the field of Aritificial Intelligence / Users behavior could even be used to advance Self-learning bots and mechanisms – NASTY ! YAECKES


3. Run SSH Socks proxy to remote SSHd server running on common SSL 443 port


Luckily sysadmins who were ordered the big bosses to sniff on your Web behaviour and preferences could be outsmarted with some hacks.

To protect your Browsing behaviours and Secure your privacy perhaps the best option is to use the Old but gold practice o Securing your Networkf traffic using SSH Over Proxy and SSH Dynamic tunnel as a Proxy as explained in my previous article here.


In short the quest way to have your free of charge SOCKS  Remote proxy to your Home based Linux installed OS server / VPN with a Public Internet address is to use ssh as so:


ssh -D 3128 UserName@IP-of-Remote-SSHD-Host -p 443


This will start the SOCKS Proxy tunnel from Corporate Work PC to your Own Home brew server.

For some convenience it is useful to set up an .alias (for cygwin) / linux users in .bashrc file:


alias proxy='ssh -D 3128 UserName@IP-of-Remote-SSHD-Host -p 443';


To start using the Proxy from browser, I use a plugin called FoxyProxy in Chrome and Firefox browsers
set-up to connect to localhost – for All Protocols as a SOCKs v5 Proxy.

The sshd Socks proxy can be used for multiple others for example, using it you can also pass on traffic from Mail client such as Thunderbird to your Email server if you're behind a firewall prohibiting access to the common POP3 port 110 or IMAP port TCP 143. 

4. How to access SSH through Proxy using jumphost SSH hop

If you're like me and you have on your Home Linux machine only one Internet address and you have already setupped an SSL enabled service (lets say Webmail) to listen to that Public Internet IP and you don't have the possibility to run another instance of /usr/bin/sshd on port 443 via configuration or manually one time by issuing:


/usr/sbin/sshd -p 443


Then you can use another ssh another Linux server as a jump host to your own home Linux sshd server. This can be done even by purchasing a cheap VPS server for lets say 3 dollars month etc. or even better if you have a friend with another Linux home server, you can ask him to run you sshd on TCP port 443 and add you an ssh account.
Once you have the second Linux machine as JumpHost to reach out to your own machine use:


ssh -J -v


To easify this a bit long line it is handy to use some kind of alias like:


alias sshhome='ssh -J -v'


The advantage here is just by issuing this sshd tunnel and keeping it open in a terminal or setting it up as Plink Putty tunnel you have all your Web Traffic Secured
between your Work Corporate PC and your Home Brew Server, keeping the curious eyes of your Company Security Officers from your own Web traffic, hence
separating the corporate privacy from your own personal privacy. Using the just established own SSH Proxy Tunnel to home for your non-work stuff browsing habits
from the corporate systems which are accessed by switching with a button click in FoxyProxy to default proxy settings.

5. How to get around paranoid corporate setup where only remote access to Corporate proxy on TCP Port 80 and TCP 443 is available in Browser only


Using straight ssh and to create Proxy will work in most of the cases but it requires SSH access to your remote SSH running server / VPS on TCP Port 22, however under some Fort-Nox like financial involved institutions and companies for the sake of tightened security, it is common that all Outbound TCP Ports are prohibited except TCP Port 80 and SSL 443 as prior said, so what can you do then to get around this badful firewall and access the Internet via your own server Proxy? 
The hack to run SSH server either on tcp port 80 or tcp port 443 on remote Host and use 443 / 80 to acess SSHD should work, but then even for the most paranoid corporations the ones who are PCI Compliant – PCI stands for (Payment Card Industry), e.g. works with Debit and Credit Card data etc, accessing even 80 or 443  ports with something like telnet client or netcat will be impossible. 
Once connected to the corporate VPN,  this 2 two ports firewall exceptions will be only accessible via the Corporate Proxy server defined in a Web Browser (Firefox / IE / Chrome etc.) as prior explained in article.

The remedy here is to use a 3rd party tools such as httptunnel or corkscrew that  are able to TUNNEL SSH TRAFFIC VIA CORPORATE PROXY SERVER and access your own resource out of the DMZ.

Both httptunnel and corkscrew are installable both on most Linux distros or for Windows users via CygWin for those who use MobaXterm.

Just to give you better idea on what corkscrew and (hts) httptunnel does, here is Debian packages descriptions.

# apt-cache show​ corkscrew
" corkscrew is a simple tool to tunnel TCP connections through an HTTP
 proxy supporting the CONNECT method. It reads stdin and writes to
 stdout during the connection, just like netcat.
 It can be used for instance to connect to an SSH server running on
 a remote 443 port through a strict HTTPS proxy.


# apt-cache show httptunnel|grep -i description -A 7
Description-en: Tunnels a data stream in HTTP requests
 Creates a bidirectional virtual data stream tunnelled in
 HTTP requests. The requests can be sent via a HTTP proxy
 if so desired.
 This can be useful for users behind restrictive firewalls. If WWW
 access is allowed through a HTTP proxy, it's possible to use
 httptunnel and, say, telnet or PPP to connect to a computer

Description-md5: ed96b7d53407ae311a6c5ef2eb229c3f
Tag: implemented-in::c, interface::commandline, interface::daemon,
 network::client, network::server, network::vpn, protocol::http,
 role::program, suite::gnu, use::routing
Section: net
Priority: optional
Filename: pool/main/h/httptunnel/httptunnel_3.3+dfsg-4_amd64.deb

Windows cygwin users can install the tools with:

apt-cyg install –yes corkscrew httptunnel

Linux users respectively with:

apt-get install –yes corkscrew httptunnel


yum install -y corkscrew httptunnel


You will then need to have the following configuration in your user home directory $HOME/.ssh/config file

ProxyCommand /usr/bin/corkscrew your-corporate-firewall-rpoxy-url 8080 %h %p



Picture Copyright by Daniel Haxx

The best picture on how ssh traffic is proxied is the one found on Daniel Haxx's website which is a great quick tutorial which originally helped to get the idea of how corkscrew works in proxying traffic I warmly recommend you take a quick look at his SSH Through or over Proxy article. could be also and IP if you don't have your own domain name in case if using via some cheap VPN Linux server with SSH, or alternatively
if you don't want to spend money on buying domain for SSH server (assuming you don't have such yet) you can use Dyn DNS or NoIP.

Another thing is to setup the proper http_proxy / https_proxy / ftp_proxy variable exports in $HOME/.bashrc in my setup I have the following:

export ftp_proxy="http://your-corporate-firewall-rpoxy-url:8080"
export https_proxy="https://your-corporate-firewall-rpoxy-url:8080"
export http_proxy="http://your-corporate-firewall-rpoxy-url:8080"
export HTTP_PROXY="http://your-corporate-firewall-rpoxy-url:8080"
export HTTPS_PROXY="http://your-corporate-firewall-rpoxy-url:8080"


6. How to Transfer Files / Data via SSH Protocol through  Proxy with SCP and SFTP

Next logical question is how to Transfer your own personal encrypted files (that contains no corporate sensitive information) between your Work laptop and home brew Linux ssh server or cheap VPN.

It took me quite a lot of try-outs until finally I got it how Secure Copy (scp) command can be used toto transfer files between my Work Computer and my Home brew server using JumpHost, here is how:

scp -o 'ProxyJump' ~/file-or-files-to-copy*

I love using sftp (Secure FTP) command Linux client to copy files and rarely use scp so I have a lot of try-outs to connect interacitvely via the Corporate Proxy server over a Jump-Host:443 to my Destination home machine, 


I've tried using netcat as it was pointed in many articles online, like so to traffic my sftp traffic via my localhost binded SSH Socks proxy on :3128 together with netcat as shown in article prior example, using following line:

sftp -oProxyCommand='/bin/nc -X connect -x %h %p' 22


Also tried proxy connect like this:


sftp -o ProxyCommand="proxy-connect -h localhost -p 3128 %h %p"


Moreover, tried to use the ssh  command (-s) argument capability to invoke SSH protocol subsystem feature which is used to facilitiate use of SSH secure transport for other application

ssh -v -J hipo@Jump-Host:443 -s sftp -v

open failed: administratively prohibited: open failed


Finally decided to give a try to the same options arguments as in scp and thanks God it worked and I can even access via the Corporate Proxy through the Jump Host SSH interactively via Secure FTP 🙂


sftp -o 'ProxyJump'

To save time from typing this long line every time, I've setup the following alias to ~/.bashrc

alias sftphome='sftp -o 'ProxyJump''



Of course using own Proxy via your Home brew SSH Machine as well as transferring your data securely from your Work PC (notebook) to Home does not completely make you Surveillance free, as the Corporate Windows installed OS image is perhaps prebundled with its own integrated Keylogger as well as the Windows Domain administrators have certainly access to connect to your PC and run various commands, so this kind of Security is just an attempt to make company has less control and know less on your browsing habits and the best solution where possible to secure your privacy and separate your Personal Space form Work space by using a second computer (if having the ability to work from home) with a KVM Switch device and switch over your Work PC and Home PC via it or in some cases (where companies) allows it, setup something like VNC server (TightVNC / RealVNC) on work PC and leave it all time running in office and connect remotely with vncviewer from your own controlled secured computer.

In article I've explained shortly common scenario found in corporate Work computers proxy setup, designed to Surveil all your move, mentioned few common softwares running by default to protect from Viruses and aimed to Protect user from malicious hacking tools, explained how to view your work notebook configured Proxy, shortly mentioned on Proxy.pac and hinted how to view proxy.pac config as well as gave few of the reasons why all web traffic is being routed over central proxy.

That's all folks, Enjoy the Freedom to be less surveilled !

Scanning ports with netcat “nc” command on Linux and UNIX / Checking for firewall filtering between source and destination with nc

Friday, September 6th, 2019


Netcat ( nc ) is one of that tools, that is well known in the hacker (script kiddie) communities, but little underestimated in the sysadmin world, due to the fact nmap (network mapper) – the network exploratoin and security auditing tool has become like the standard penetration testing TCP / UDP port tool

nc is feature-rich network debugging and investigation tool with tons of built-in capabilities for reading from and writing to network connections using TCP or UDP.

Its Plethora of features includes port listening, port scanning & Transferring files due to which it is often used by Hackers and PenTesters as Backdoor. Netcat was written by a guy we know as the Hobbit <>.

For a start-up and middle sized companies if nmap is missing on server usually it is okay to install it without risking to open a huge security hole, however in Corporate world, due to security policies often nmap is not found on the servers but netcat (nc) is present on the servers so you have to learn, if you haven't so to use netcat for the usual IP range port scans, if you're so used to nmap.

There are different implementations of Netcat, whether historically netcat was UNIX (BSD) program with a latest release of March 1996. The Linux version of NC is GNU Netcat (official source here) and is POSIX compatible. The other netcat in Free Software OS-es is OpenBSD's netcat whose ported version is also used in FreeBSD. Mac OS X also comes with default prebundled netcat on its Mac OS X from OS X version (10.13) onwards, on older OS X-es it is installable via MacPorts package repo, even FreeDOS has a port of it called NTOOL.

The (Swiss Army Knife of Embedded Linux) busybox includes a default leightweight version of netcat and Solaris has the OpenBSD netcat version bundled.

A cryptography enabled version fork exists that supports that supports integrated transport encryption capabilities called Cryptcat.

The Nmap suite also has included rewritten version of GNU Netcat named Ncat, featuring new possibilities such as "Connection Brokering", TCP/UDP Redirection, SOCKS4 client and server support, ability to "Chain" Ncat processes, HTTP CONNECT proxying (and proxy chaining), SSL connect/listen support and IP address/connection filtering. Just like Nmap, Ncat is cross-platform.

In this small article I'll very briefly explain on basic netcat – known as the TCP Army knife tool port scanning for an IP range of UDP / TCP ports.


1. Scanning for TCP opened / filtered ports remote Linux / Windows server


Everyone knows scanning of a port is possible with a simple telnet request towards the host, e.g.:



The most basic netcat use that does the same is achiavable with:


220 jeremiah ESMTP Exim 4.92 Thu, 05 Sep 2019 20:39:41 +0300

Beside scanning the remote port, using netcat interactively as pointing in above example, if connecting to HTTP Web services, you can request remote side to return a webpage by sending a false referer, source host and headers, this is also easy doable with curl / wget and lynx but doing it with netcat just like with telnet could be fun, here is for example how to request an INDEX page with spoofed HTTP headers.

nc Web-Host.COM 25
GET / HTTP/1.1
User-Agent: my-spoofed-browser


2. Performing a standard HTTP request with netcat


To do so just pype the content with a standard bash integrated printf function with the included end of line (the unix one is \n but to be OS independent it is better to use r\n  – the end of line complition character for Windows.


printf "GET /index.html HTTP/1.0\r\nHost:\r\n\r\n" | nc 80


3. Scanning a range of opened / filtered UDP ports


To scan for lets say opened remote system services on the very common important ports opened from UDP port 25 till, 1195 – more specifically for:

  • UDP Bind Port 53
  • Time protocol Port (37)
  • TFTP (69)
  • Kerberos (88)
  • NTP 123
  • Netbios (137,138,139)
  • SNMP (161)
  • LDAP 389
  • Microsoft-DS (Samba 445)
  • Route BGP (52)
  • LDAPS (639)
  • openvpn (1194)


nc -vzu 25 1195


UDP tests will show opened, if no some kind of firewall blocking, the -z flag is given to scan only for remote listening daemons without sending any data to them.


4. Port Scanning TCP listening ports with Netcat


As prior said using netcat to scan for remote opened HTTP Web Server on port 80 an FTP on Port 23 or a Socks Proxy or MySQL Database on 3306 / PostgreSQL DB on TCP 5432 is very rare case scenario.

Below is example to scan a Local network situated IP for TCP open ports from port 1 till 7000.


# nc -v -n -z -w 5 1-7000

           nc: connect to 80 (tcp) failed: Connection refused
           nc: connect to 20 (tcp) failed: Connection refused
           Connection to port [tcp/ssh] succeeded!
           nc: connect to 23 (tcp) failed: Connection refused


Be informed that scanning with netcat is much more slower, than nmap, so specifying smaller range of ports is always a good idea to reduce annoying waiting …

The -w flag is used to set a timeout to remote connection, usually on a local network situated machines the timeout could be low -w 1 but for machines across different Data Centers (let say one in Berlin and one in Seattle), use as a minimum -w 5.

If you expect remote service to be responsive (as it should always be), it is a nice idea to use netcat with a low timeout (-w) value of 1 below is example:

netcat -v -z -n -w 1 scanned-hosts 1-1023


5. Port scanning range of IP addresses with netcat

If you have used Nmap you know scanning for a network range is as simple as running something like nmap -sP -P0 192.168.0.* (to scan from IP range 1-255 map -sP -P0 (to scan from local IPs ending in 1-150) or giving the network mask of the scanned network, e.g. nmap -sF – for more examples please check my previous article Checking port security on Linux with nmap (examples).

But what if nmap is not there and want to check a bunch 10 Splunk servers (software for searching, monitoring, and analyzing machine-generated big data, via a Web-style interface.), with netcat to find, whether the default Splunk connection port 9997 is opened or not:


for i in `seq 1 10`; do nc -z -w 5 -vv splunk0$ 9997; done


6. Checking whether UDP port traffic is allowed to destination server


Assuring you have access on Source traffic (service) Host A  and Host B (remote destination server where a daemon will be set-upped to listen on UDP port and no firewall in the middle Network router or no traffic control and filtering software HUB is preventing the sent UDP proto traffic, lets say an ntpd will be running on its standard 123 port there is done so:

– On host B (the remote machine which will be running ntpd and should be listening on port 123), run netcat to listen for connections


# nc -l -u -p 123
Listening on [] (family 2, port 123)

Make sure there is no ntpd service actively running on the server, if so stop it with /etc/init.d/ntpd stop
and run above command. The command should run as superuser as UDP port 123 is from the so called low ports from 1-1024 and binding services on such requires root privileges.

– On Host A (UDP traffic send host


nc -uv remote-server-host 123



If the remote port is not reachable due to some kind of network filtering, you will get "connection refused".
An important note to make is on some newer Linux distributions netcat might be silently trying to connect by default using IPV6, bringing false positives of filtered ports due to that. Thus it is generally a good idea, to make sure you're connecting to IPV6


$ nc -uv -4 remote-server-host 123


Another note to make here is netcat's UDP connection takes 2-3 seconds, so make sure you wait at least 4-8 seconds for a very distant located hosts that are accessed over a multitude of routers.

7. Checking whether TCP port traffic allowed to DST remote server

To listen for TCP connections on a specified location (external Internet IP or hostname), it is analogous to listening for UDP connections.

Here is for example how to bind and listen for TCP connections on all available Interface IPs (localhost, eth0, eth1, eth2 etc.)

nc -lv 12345


Then on client host test the connection with


nc -vv 12345
Connection to 12345 port [tcp/*] succeeded!


8. Proxying traffic with netcat

Another famous hackers use of Netcat is its proxying possibility, to proxy anything towards a third party application with UNIX so any content returned be printed out on the listening nc spawned daemon like process.
For example one application is traffic SMTP (Mail traffic) with netcat, below is example of how to proxy traffic from Host B -> Host C (in that case the yandex current mail server

linux-srv:~# nc -l 12543 | nc 25

Now go to Host A or any host that has TCP/IP protocol access to port 12543 on proxy-host Host B (linux-srv) and connect to it on 12543 with another netcat or telnet.

to make netcat keep connecting to MX (Mail Exchange) server you can run it in a small never ending bash shell while loop, like so:


linux-srv:~# while :; do nc -l 12543 | nc 25; done

 Below are screenshots of a connection handshake between Host B (linux-srv) proxy host and Host A (the end client connecting) and Host C (



Host B netcat as a (Proxy)

that is possible in combination of UNIX and named pipes (for more on Named pipes check my previous article simple linux logging with named pipes), here is how to run a single netcat version to proxy any traffic in a similar way as the good old tinyproxy.

On Proxy host create the pipe and pass the incoming traffic towards and write back any output received back in the named pipe.

# mkfifo backpipe
# nc -l 8080 0<backpipe | nc 80 1>backpipe

Other useful netcat proxy set-up is to simulate a network connectivity failures.

For instance, if server:port on TCP 1080 is the normal host application would connect to, you can to set up a forward proxy from port 2080 with

    nc -L server:1080 2080

then set-up and run the application to connect to localhost:2080 (nc proxy port)

    /path/to/application_bin –server=localhost –port=2080

Now application is connected to localhost:2080, which is forwarded to server:1080 through netcat. To simulate a network connectivity failure, just kill the netcat proxy and check the logs of application_bin.

Using netcat as a bind shell (make any local program / process listen and deliver via nc)


netcat can be used to make any local program that can receive input and send output to a server, this use is perhaps little known by the junior sysadmin, but a favourite use of l337 h4x0rs who use it to spawn shells on remote servers or to make connect back shell. The option to do so is -e

-e – option spawns the executable with its input and output redirected via network socket.

One of the most famous use of binding a local OS program to listen and receive / send content is by
making netcat as a bind server for local /bin/bash shell.

Here is how

nc -l -p 4321 -e /bin/sh

If necessery specify the bind hostname after -l. Then from any client connect to 4321 (and if it is opened) you will gain a shell with the user with which above netcat command was run. Note that many modern distribution versions such as Debian / Fedora / SuSE Linux's netcat binary is compiled without the -e option (this works only when compiled with -DGAPING_SECURITY_HOLE), removal in this distros is because option is potentially opening a security hole on the system.

If you're interested further on few of the methods how modern hackers bind new backdoor shell or connect back shell, check out Spawning real tty shells article.


For more complex things you might want to check also socat (SOcket CAT) – multipurpose relay for bidirectional data transfer under Linux.
socat is a great Linux Linux / UNIX TCP port forwarder tool similar holding the same spirit and functionality of netcat plus many, many more.

On some of the many other UNIX operating systems that are lacking netcat or nc / netcat commands can't be invoked a similar utilitiesthat should be checked for and used instead are:

ncat, pnetcat, socat, sock, socket, sbd

To use nmap's ncat to spawn a shell for example that allows up to 3 connections and listens for connects only from network on port 8081:

ncat –exec "/bin/bash" –max-conns 3 –allow -l 8081 –keep-open


9. Copying files over network with netcat

Another good hack often used by hackers to copy files between 2 servers Server1 and Server2 who doesn't have any kind of FTP / SCP / SFTP / SSH / SVN / GIT or any kind of Web copy support service – i.e. servers only used as a Database systems that are behind a paranoid sysadmin firewall is copying files between two servers with netcat.

On Server2 (the Machine on which you want to store the file)

nc -lp 2323 > files-archive-to-copy.tar.gz

On server1 (the Machine from where file is copied) run:

nc -w 5 2323 < files-archive-to-copy.tar.gz


Note that the downside of such transfers with netcat is data transferred is unencrypted so any one with even a simple network sniffer or packet analyzier such as iptraf or tcpdump could capture the file, so make sure the file doesn't contain sensitive data such as passwords.

Copying partition images like that is perhaps best way to get disk images from a big server onto a NAS (when you can't plug the NAS into the server).

10. Copying piped archived directory files with netcat


On computer A:

export ARIBTRARY_PORT=3232
nc -l $ARBITRARY_PORT | tar vzxf –

On Computer B:

tar vzcf – files_or_directories | nc computer_a $ARBITRARY_PORT


11. Creating a one page webserver with netcat and ncat

As netcat could listen to port and print content of a file, it can be set-up with a bit of bash shell scripting to serve
as a one page webserver, or even combined with some perl scripting and bash to create a multi-serve page webserver if needed.

To make netact serve a page to any connected client run in a screen / tmux session following code:


while true; do nc -l -p 80 -q 1 < somepage.html; done


Another interesting fun example if you have installed ncat (is a small web server that connects current time on server on connect).

ncat -lkp 8080 –sh-exec 'echo -ne "HTTP/1.0 200 OK\r\n\r\nThe date is "; date;'


12. Cloning Hard disk partitions with netcat

rsync is a common tool used to clone hard disk partitions over network. However if rsync is not installed on a server and netcat is there you can use it instead, lets say we want to clone /dev/sdb
from Server1 to Server2 assuming (Server1 has a configured working Local or Internet connection).


On Server2 run:

nc -l -p 4321 | dd of=/dev/sdb


Following on Server2 to start the Partition / HDD cloning process run


dd if=/dev/sdb | nc 4321


Where is the IP address listen configured on Server2 (in case you don't know it, check the listening IP to access with /sbin/ifconfig).

Next you have to wait for some short or long time depending on the partiiton or Hard drive, number of files / directories and allocated disk / partition size.

To clone /dev/sda (a main partiiton) from Server1 to Server2 first requirement is that it is not mounted, thus to have it unmounted on a system assuming you have physical access to the host, you can boot some LiveCD Linux distribution such as Knoppix Live CD on Server1, manually set-up networking with ifconfig or grab an IP via DHCP from the central DHCP server and repeat above example.

Happy netcating 🙂

Howto Configure Linux shell Prompt / Setup custom Terminal show Prompt using default shell variables PS1, PS2, PS3, PS4

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019


System Console, Command Operation Console  or Terminal is a Physical device for text (command) input from keyboard, getting the command output and monitoring the status of a shell or programs I/O operations generated traditionally with attached screen. With the development of Computers, physical consoles has become emulated and the input output is translated on the monitor usually via a data transfer  protocol historically mostly over TCP/IP connection to remote IP with telnet or rsh, but due to security limitations Consoles are now accessed over data (encrypted) network protocols with SHA2 / MD5 cryptography algorithm enabled such as over SSH (Secure Shell) network protocol..
The ancestors of physical consoles which in the past were just a Terminal (Monitoring / Monitor device attached to a MainFrame system computer).


What is Physical Console
A classical TTY (TeleTYpewriter) device looked like so and served the purpose of being just a communication and display deivce, whether in reality the actual computing and storage tape devices were in a separate room and communicating to Terminal.

TTYs are still present in  modern UNIX like GNU / Linux distrubions OSes and the BSD berkley 4.4 code based FreeBSD / NetBSD / OpenBSD if you have installed the OS on a physical computer in FreeBSD and Solaris / SunOS there is also tty command. TTY utility in *nix writes the name of the terminal attached to standard input to standard output, in Linux there is a GNU remake of same program part called GNU tty of coreutils package (try man tty) for more.

The physical console is recognizable in Linux as it is indicated with other tree letters pts – (pseudo terminal device) standing for a terminal device which is emulated by an other program (example: xterm, screen, or ssh are such programs). A pts is the slave part of a pts is pseudo there is no separate binary program for it but it is dynamically allocated in memory.
PTS is also called Line consle in Cisco Switches / Router devices, VTY is the physical Serial Console connected on your Cisco device and the network connection emulation to network device is creates with a virtual console session VTL (Virtual Terminal Line). In freebsd the actual /dev/pts* /dev/tty* temporary devices on the OS are slightly different and have naming such as /dev/ttys001.
But the existence of tty and pts emulator is not enough for communicating interrupts to Kernel and UserLand binaries of the Linux / BSD OS, thus to send the commands on top of it is running a System Shell as CSH / TSH / TCSH or BASH which is usually the first program set to run after user logs in over ptty or pseudo tty virtual terminal.



Setting the Bash Prompt in Terminal / Console on GNU / Linux

Bash has system environments to control multiple of variables, which are usually visible with env command, one important variable to change in the past was for example USER / USERNAME which was red by IRC Chat clients  such as BitchX / irssi and could be displayed publicly so if not changed to a separate value, one could have known your Linux login username by simple /whois query to the Nickname in question (if no inetd / xinetd service was running on the Linux box and usually inetd was not running).

Below is my custom set USER / USERNAME to separate

hipo@pcfreak:~$ env|grep USER

There is plenty of variables to  tune email such as MAIL store directory, terminal used TERM, EDITOR etc. but there are some
variables that are not visible with env query as they're not globally available for all users but just for the single user, to show this ones you need to use declare command instead, to get a full list of All Single and System Wide defined variables and functions type declare in the bash shell, for readability, below is last 10 returned results:


hipo@pcfreak:~$ declare | tail -10
    local quoted=${1//\'/\'\\\'\'};
    printf "'%s'" "$quoted"
quote_readline ()
    local quoted;
    _quote_readline_by_ref "$1" ret;
    printf %s "$ret"


PS1 is present there virtually on any modern Linux distribution and is installed through user home's directory $HOME/.bashrc , ~/.profile or .bash_profile or System Wide globally for all existing users in /etc/passwd (password database file) from /etc/bash.bashrc
In Debian / Ubuntu / Mint GNU / Linux this system variable is set in user home's .bashrc but in Fedora / RHEL Linux distro,
PS1 is configured from /home/username/.bash_profile to find out where PS1 is located for ur user:

cd ~
grep -Rli PS1 .bash*

Here is one more example:

hipo@pcfreak:~$ declare|grep -i PS1|head -1
PS1='\[\e]0;\u@\h: \w\a\]${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\u@\h:\w\$ '

hipo@pcfreak:~$ grep PS1 /etc/bash.bashrc
[ -z “$PS1” ] && return
# but only if not SUDOing and have SUDO_PS1 set; then assume smart user.
if ! [ -n “${SUDO_USER}” -a -n “${SUDO_PS1}” ]; then
  PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\u@\h:\w\$ '

Getting current logged in user shell configured PS1 variable can be done with echo:

hipo@pcfreak:~$ echo $PS1
\[\e]0;\u@\h: \w\a\]${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\u@\h:\w\$

So lets observe a little bit the meaning of this obscure line of (code) instructions code which are understood by BASH when being red from PS1 var to do so, I'll give a list of meaning of main understood commands, each of which is defined with \.

The ${debian_chroot} shell variable is defined from /etc/bash.bashrc

Easiest way to change PS1 is to export the string you like with the arguments like so:


root@linux:/home/hipo# export PS1='My-Custom_Server-Name# '
My-Custom_Server-Name# echo $PS1


  •     \a : an ASCII bell character (07)
  •     \d : the date in “Weekday Month Date” format (e.g., “Tue May 26”)
  •     \D{format} : the format is passed to strftime(3) and the result is inserted into the prompt string; an empty format results in a locale-specific time representation. The braces are required
  •     \e : an ASCII escape character (033)
  •     \h : the hostname up to the first ‘.’
  •     \H : the hostname
  •     \j : the number of jobs currently managed by the shell
  •     \l : the basename of the shell's terminal device name
  •     \n : newline
  •     \r : carriage return
  •     \s : the name of the shell, the basename of $0 (the portion following the final slash)
  •     \t : the current time in 24-hour HH:MM:SS format
  •     \T : the current time in 12-hour HH:MM:SS format
  •     \@ : the current time in 12-hour am/pm format
  •     \A : the current time in 24-hour HH:MM format
  •     \u : the username of the current user
  •     \v : the version of bash (e.g., 2.00)
  •     \V : the release of bash, version + patch level (e.g., 2.00.0)
  •     \w : the current working directory, with $HOME abbreviated with a tilde
  •     \W : the basename of the current working directory, with $HOME abbreviated with a tilde
  •     \! : the history number of this command
  •     \# : the command number of this command
  •     \$ : if the effective UID is 0, a #, otherwise a $
  •     \nnn : the character corresponding to the octal number nnn
  •     \\ : a backslash
  •     \[ : begin a sequence of non-printing characters, which could be used to embed a terminal control sequence into the prompt
  •     \] : end a sequence of non-printing characters

The default's PS1 set prompt on Debian Linux is:

echo $PS1
\[\e]0;\u@\h: \w\a\]${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\u@\h:\w\$

As you can see \u (print username) \h (print hostname)  and \W (basename of current working dir) or \w (print $HOME/current working dir)
are the most essential, the rest are bell character, escape character etc.

A very good way to make your life easier and learn the abbreviations / generate exactly the PS1 PROMPT you want to have is with Easy Bash PS1 Generator Web Utility
with which you can just click over buttons that are capable to produce all of the PS1 codes.

1. How to show current hour:minute:seconds / print full date in Prompt Shell (PS)

Here is an example with setting the Bash Shell prompt  to include also the current time in format hour:minute:seconds (very useful if you're executing commands on a critical servers and you run commands in some kind of virtual terminal like screen or tmux.

root@pcfreak:~# PS1="\n\t \u@\h:\w# "
14:03:51 root@pcfreak:/home#



export PS1='\u@\H \D{%Y-%m-%d %H:%M;%S%z}] \W ] \$ '



Make superuser appear in RED color (adding PS1 prompt custom color for a User)

root@pcfreak:~$  PS1="\\[$(tput setaf 1)\\]\\u@\\h:\\w #\\[$(tput sgr0)\\]"



In above example the Shell Prompt Color changed is changed for administrator (root) to shebang symbol # in red, green, yellow and blue for the sake to show you how it is done, however this example can be adapted for any user on the system. Setting different coloring for users is very handy if you have to administer Mail Server service like Qmail or other Application that consists of multiple small ones of multiple daemons such as qmail + vpopmail + clamd + mysql etc. Under such circumstances, coloring each of the users in different color like in the example for debugging is very useful.

Coloring the PS1 system prompt on Linux to different color has been a standard practice in Linux Server environments running Redhat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and SuSE Enterprise Linux and some Desktop distributions such as Mint Linux.

To make The Root prompt Red colored only for system super user (root) on any Linux distribution
, add the following to /etc/bashrc, e.g.

vim /etc/bashrc

# If id command returns zero, you've root access.
if [ $(id -u) -eq 0 ];
then # you are root, set red colour prompt
  PS1="\\[$(tput setaf 1)\\]\\u@\\h:\\w #\\[$(tput sgr0)\\]"
else # normal
  PS1="[\\u@\\h:\\w] $"



2. How to make the prompt of a System user appear Green

Add to ~/.bashrc  following line



PS1="\\[$(tput setaf 2)\\]\\u@\\h:\\w #\\[$(tput sgr0)\\]"


3. Print New line, username@hostname, base PTY, shell level, history (number), newline and full working directory $PWD


export PS1='\n[\u@\h \l:$SHLVL:\!]\n$PWD\$ '


4. Showing the numbert of jobs the shell is currently managing.

This is useful if you run and switch with fg / bg (foreground / background) commands
to switch between jobs and forget some old job.


export PS1='\u@\H \D{%Y-%m-%d %H:%M;%S%z}] \W \$]'


Multi Lines Prompt / Make very colorful Shell prompt full of stats info

PS1="\n\[\033[35m\]\$(/bin/date)\n\[\033[32m\]\w\n\[\033[1;31m\]\u@\h: \[\033[1;34m\]\$(/usr/bin/tty | /bin/sed -e ‘s:/dev/::’): \[\033[1;36m\]\$(/bin/ls -1 | /usr/bin/wc -l | /bin/sed ‘s: ::g’) files \[\033[1;33m\]\$(/bin/ls -lah | /bin/grep -m 1 total | /bin/sed ‘s/total //’)b\[\033[0m\] -> \[\033[0m\]"




5. Set color change on command failure

If you have a broken command or the command ended with non zero output with some kind of bad nasty message and you want to make, that more appearing making it red heighlighted, here is how:


PROMPT_COMMAND='PS1="\[\033[0;33m\][\!]\`if [[ \$? = “0” ]]; then echo “\\[\\033[32m\\]”; else echo “\\[\\033[31m\\]”; fi\`[\u.\h: \`if [[ `pwd|wc -c|tr -d ” “` > 18 ]]; then echo “\\W”; else echo “\\w”; fi\`]\$\[\033[0m\] “; echo -ne “\033]0;`hostname -s`:`pwd`\007"'


6. Other beautiful PS1 Color Prompts with statistics


PS1="\n\[\e[32;1m\](\[\e[37;1m\]\u\[\e[32;1m\])-(\[\e[37;1m\]jobs:\j\[\e[32;1m\])-(\[\e[37;1m\]\w\[\e[32;1m\])\n(\[\[\e[37;1m\]! \!\[\e[32;1m\])-> \[\e[0m\]"





7. Add Muliple Colors to Same Shell prompt


function prompt { local BLUE="\[\033[0;34m\]” local DARK_BLUE=”\[\033[1;34m\]” local RED=”\[\033[0;31m\]” local DARK_RED=”\[\033[1;31m\]” local NO_COLOR=”\[\033[0m\]” case $TERM in xterm*|rxvt*) TITLEBAR=’\[\033]0;\u@\h:\w\007\]’ ;; *) TITLEBAR=”” ;; esac PS1=”\u@\h [\t]> ” PS1=”${TITLEBAR}\ $BLUE\u@\h $RED[\t]>$NO_COLOR " PS2='continue-> ' PS4='$0.$LINENO+ ' }


8. Setting / Change Shell background Color



export PS1="\[$(tput bold)$(tput setb 4)$(tput setaf 7)\]\u@\h:\w $ \[$(tput sgr0)\]"


tput Color Capabilities:

  • tput setab [1-7] – Set a background color using ANSI escape
  • tput setb [1-7] – Set a background color
  • tput setaf [1-7] – Set a foreground color using ANSI escape
  • tput setf [1-7] – Set a foreground color

tput Text Mode Capabilities:

  • tput bold – Set bold mode
  • tput dim – turn on half-bright mode
  • tput smul – begin underline mode
  • tput rmul – exit underline mode
  • tput rev – Turn on reverse mode
  • tput smso – Enter standout mode (bold on rxvt)
  • tput rmso – Exit standout mode
  • tput sgr0 – Turn off all attributes

Color Code for tput:

  • 0 – Black
  • 1 – Red
  • 2 – Green
  • 3 – Yellow
  • 4 – Blue
  • 5 – Magenta
  • 6 – Cyan
  • 7 – White


9. Howto Use bash shell function inside PS1 variable

If you administrate Apache or other HTTPD servers or any other server whose processes are forked and do raise drastically at times to keep an eye while actively working on the server.


function httpdcount { ps aux | grep apache2 | grep -v grep | wc -l } export PS1="\u@\h [`httpdcount`]> "

10. PS2, PS3, PS4 little known variables

I'll not get much into detail to PS2, PS3, PS4 but will mention them as perhaps many people are not even aware they exist.
They're rarely used in the daily system administrator's work but useful for Shell scripting purposes of Dev Ops and Shell Scripting Guru Programmers.

  • PS2 – Continuation interactive prompt

A very long unix command can be broken down to multiple line by giving \ at the end of the line. The default interactive prompt for a multi-line command is “> “.  Let us change this default behavior to display “continue->” by using PS2 environment variable as shown below.

hipo@db-host :~$ myisamchk –silent –force –fast –update-state \
> –key_buffer_size=512M –sort_buffer_size=512M \
> –read_buffer_size=4M –write_buffer_size=4M \
> /var/lib/mysql/bugs/*.MYI
[Note: This uses the default “>” for continuation prompt]

  • PS3 – Prompt used by “select” inside shell script (usefulif you write scripts with user prompts)


  • PS4 – Used by “set -x” to prefix tracing output
    The PS4 shell variable defines the prompt that gets displayed.

You can find  example with script demonstrating PS2, PS3, PS4 use via small shell scripts in thegeekstuff's article Take control of PS1, PS2, PS3, PS4 read it here



In this article, I've shortly reviewed on what is a TTY, how it evolved into Pseudo TTY and how it relates to current shells which are the interface communicating with the modern UNIX like Operating systems's userland and kernel.
Also it was reviewed shortly how the current definitions of shell variables could be viewed with declare cmd. Also I went through on how to display the PS1 variable and  on how to modify PS1 and make the prompt different statistics and monitoring parameters straight into the command shell. I've shown some common PS1 strings that report on current date hour, minute, seconds, modify the coloring of the bash prompt shell, show processes count, and some PS1 examples were given that combines beuatiful shell coloring as well as how the Prompt background color can be changed.
Finally was shown how a combination of commands can be executed by exporting to PS1 to update process counf of Apache on every shell prompt iteration.
Other shell goodies are mostly welcome