on Monday, March 18, 2019

This one comes from my coworkers Mark Norstedt and Joseph Chanson. They put together a nice function that works similar to ‘ps’, but it can be run against a remote machine and the output it gives is a little more closely aligned with Task Manager. This is a real nice function to have when a remote machine is reporting a problem that looks like a wild process consuming the entire CPU, but you don’t want to put the extra burden on the machine of RDP’ing into it.


1Password4 No Longer Working with Chrome

on Monday, March 11, 2019

I had some really old 1Password software on my system. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it works great and I think that the passwords are stored locally. When 1Password announced it was moving to a cloud based model, I was as equally annoyed as the security community was (Why Security Experts Are Pissed That 1Password Is Pushing Users to the Cloud). But, the writing was on the walls and I knew I was gonna have to move someday.

Around the end of January 2019 I thought that day had come. 1Password integration stopped working in Chrome and none of the normal restart, reinstall tricks worked. It looks like around mid-February 1Password updated their troubleshooting guide to include a note that Chrome 72 will no longer work with 1Password4. For me … this was fantastic news. Because it meant 1Password wasn’t dropping support for people that liked have a local password vault as opposed to the cloud solution. All they wanted was for users to upgrade to a new version, 1Password7. And from a developer perspective that completely understandable.

WARNING: For Dropbox users you’ll want to stop all 1Password4 instances on all machines before upgrading to 1Passsword7 on one machine.

Upgrading from 1Password4 to 1Password7 was not too bad, but not as smooth as the guide suggested. Downloading and installing 1Password7 was really easy. And the installation popped up the new 1Password7 initial setup screen which reported 1Password had been updated to the latest version. Now, the next step. I was going to have to create an account.


Clicking on Start my trail took me to the website, where I was able to create an account pretty easily. Reading through the setup made it pretty clear it was going to be a subscription based payment model. Which I’m fine with, everything is moving that way. If you want to use a standalone license, it’s a little harder and their isn’t as much easy guidance. The closest description I found was on their websites forum and hidden in the menu on the initial setup screen.

Once I was able to sign into the local Windows 7 App using the new credentials the import process was pretty smooth. Just select to old folder location on disk and it will convert it over just as described in their update article.

Their update article also says to uninstall the older 1Password4 to ensure things on the system to prevent conflicts. When I went through the uninstall process I did receive a somewhat unexpected message about 1Password4 still running.



Since I’ve never learned how to properly shutdown 1Password4 from the application, this powershell snippet might be useful:


And that was it, all setup.

Updating Chrome Extension

For chrome, I just needed to Remove the 1Password Chrome Extension and then re-install it.

Now for the other machines

Okay … so that was machine #1. But, what about all the other machines that are using the vault through a Dropbox sync. For those, it’s a bit rougher but not bad. If you didn’t uninstall all the 1Password instances off your other machines before the first upgrade, you may have difficulty updating the other machines. The issue I ran into was the 1Password7 installer just wouldn’t run. There is a forum post which resolves the issue by renaming a file a disk.

Note: The “Emergency Kit” which includes the QRCode code to quickly enter 1password configuration information is very useful at this stage.

And finally the old cell phone

Because DropBox was copying over the new .opvault data to each machine, I was afraid that the cell phone might start try to recreate the .agilekeychain storage system in DropBox. I went through the installed application and found a way to update the application to repoint to the new .opvault, but … I just decided not to do that.

Instead, uninstalling the phone app and reinstalling was much cleaner and easier. It took a few moments and I could use the cell phone camera to scan the QRCode for setup. It did point out one thing that is important to note:

The .opvault has a seperate Master Password on it from your account. It still uses the original password from 1Password4. If you setup your new account to have the same password as the .opvault you may be very surprised in the future if you change the password but your .opvault still requires the old one.


on Monday, March 4, 2019

There are number of resources online which show how to get the install .NET version from a server.

This is just a combination of couple of them into easy to use functions that can run on remote servers.

AWS API Key Exposed in github

on Monday, February 25, 2019

AWS doesn’t want you to accidentally expose your API Key through github. And as a courtesy, they scan the creation of all new repositories in github for AWS Keys. Supposedly it’s done with this tool: truggleHog. And I couldn’t be happier that they do this! Not only for their own sake, but also the piece of mind of their customers.

Some months back I was asked to update some secrets because of exactly that scenario. A programmer had accidently checked in their AWS Keys into a public github repository and AWS had emailed our account managers to report that:

  1. The key had been detected in repository X …
  2. And, it had been deactivated on AWS

That was fantastic. And they detected and shutdown the key in under an hour of the key being exposed on github.

Now comes the truly amazing part …

The reason AWS does this is because malicious parties are also scanning creation of all new repositories in github and they are also looking for the same keys. And, a malicious group had found our keys before AWS deactivated them.

The automated attacker used the keys to spin up instances of x-large EC2 instances with plenty of GPU/CPU power and SSD drives. We assume the instances they created where then fitted with crypto-mining software and they went to town.

After receiving AWS’ email about the keys being disabled, our AWS contact point looked through our account and found the illegitimate EC2 instances and started killing them. So, cased closed right? Nope …

Our AWS manager shut down the EC2 instances that were in our primary region, in US-WEST-2. But, we all forgot to check the other regions. And the attackers had spun up identical stacks in all regions of AWS. The next morning we awoke to the realization that it was probably running in other regions and built a script to shut them down as quickly as possible.

All told, the 12 hour period that the EC2 instances were running ended up being over $5000 in charges.

But, AWS to the rescue again. Because it was the first time this had happened, AWS forgave the bill with two conditions:

  • If it happens again, we pay for it.
  • We needed to setup Billing Alarms in case any of our services (legitimate or not) starts to create charges that we are not comfortable with.

All-in-all, AWS is really trying to help out their customers; and I kind of want to give them a big hug.

Let’s Encrypt, IIS Central Cert Store and Powershell

on Monday, February 18, 2019

Let’s Encrypt is a pretty popular tool with a mission to generate free SSL certificates in order to create a more secure internet. The goal is to ensure that the price of SSL certificates does not stand in the way of using them. Unfortunately, when you don’t charge for a product you really have to cut down on the amount of money you spend on customer service.

Their website is a model for limited user interaction. They provide documentation, help guides, and then they point you away from their site and towards the sites of many supporting tool providers which implement their SSL generation platform. But, you will be hard pressed to find a “Contact Us” or “User Support Forum” area on To summarize their site: Here’s how it works, here’s the client providers, read the client providers documentation please.

I don’t fully understand the ACME protocol, but to me it reads like a strict Process and API for validating requests and provisioning signed certificates. Normally there might be a handy website that will guide you through this process with step-by-step instructions but, because there are so many different types of computer systems and programming languages that can implement the ACME protocol, they leave those guides up to the implementers of the ACME clients for each of those systems.

My preference is Powershell, and I found the Posh-ACME guide gave me a good start, but didn’t help me through the final steps of installing the certificate for use with IIS. In this case, an IIS Centralized Certificate Store. So, hopefully this can help others with a start to finish script showing the end users process; instead of hunting down individual steps from different sites.

Invoke-WebServiceProxy and Ignore Errors

on Monday, February 11, 2019

One of the frustrating parts of using Invoke-WebRequest, Invoke-Rest, and Invoke-WebServiceProxy is that when they “throw” errors, they don’t actually throw. Many of the original powershell functions don’t throw errors, instead they use Write-Error and and return control from the function. This is really strange functionality for anyone coming for C#, javascript, or other 3GL languages.

You can suppress the error message by using the [CmdletBinding] parameter –ErrorAction “SilentlyContinue”. However, there are two problems with this. When using ‘SilentlyContinue’, the error message is still written to the $global:Error collection. And, these functions don’t always implement the functionality the same way. For example, Invoke-WebRequest doesn’t care what the error action is, it’s still going to write the error to the screen and it’s going to update the $global:Error collection.

The output from these two examples is kind of hard to see, because the Write-Host from within the finally block writes to the screen before the error message from Invoke-WebRequest. But, when $global:Error.Clear() is run within the finally block it somehow only affects a scoped instance of $global:Error. Which is completely counterintuitive to the idea of ‘$global’.



But, the way Invoke-WebServiceProxy was written, it does respect the –ErrorAction parameter. And it was seemingly designed to work like this:

  • -ErrorAction Continue

    Writes an error message to screen. Updates $global:Error. And returns nothing.
  • -ErrorAction SilentlyIgnore

    Does not write an error message to screen. Updates $global:Error. And returns nothing.
  • -ErrorAction Ignore

    Does not write an error message to screen. Does not update $global:Error. And returns nothing.

This implementation makes sense when you understand it. But, because Invoke-WebRequest and Invoke-WebService behave differently you would never know it.

    MFA Tokens–AWS Hardware or Google Authenticator

    on Monday, February 4, 2019

    As security goes, MFA One Time Passwords are surprisingly simple. I think that’s one of the great things about them. MFA OTP are all based around a shared a secret. In general it’s a generated string that’s not too terribly long; which makes it easy to store and not too bad to type out every once in a while. That generated string has some mathematical properties that allow it to be combined with a timestamp to create a six digit code that changes every X number of seconds (generally 30 seconds). That’s it. It’s just a shared secret.

    So, to use an MFA TOTP all you really need to do is share the secret between the service provider and service consumer. And that’s the comparison I want to make: Is there a difference between how you share the secret when using a hardware token vs Google Authenticator. And, I want to use AWS as the service provider.

    Here is AWS’ page on the variety of MFA scenarios that they support, complete with links to purchase suggested hardware devices. It’s a pretty great starting point for anyone.

    And, here’s my quick comparison:

    Hardware MFA Device

    If you go with a Hardware MFA device (for example the gemalto Safenet Display Card), and you start to setup the card in AWS’ IAM user account configuration, you’ll eventually run into this screen:

    With that card, the Serial Number printed on the back of the card is the Shared Secret. The security is that you lock the card away and keep it safe; because if you can look at the back of the card, you can get the shared secret.

    And, the way the secret is shared is that you send the Shared Secret to AWS over an https connection.

    Google Authenticator

    If you go with the Virtual MFA device (ie. Google Authenticator), and you start to setup the virtual device in AWS’ IAM user account configuration, you’ll eventually run into this screen:

    The QR Code is kind of the classic way of getting the info into your phone. (And, I would suggest screen shoting the QR Code and the “Show secret key” value and storing the image into a password safe. The QR code contains a little extra info that labels the TOTP code in Google Authenticator. Also, it’s kind of annoying to buy a new phone and hand enter all the codes again.)

    So, with the virtual device, AWS is generating the Shared Secret. And they are providing the secret to you by sending it to your browser over https. You are then expected to setup a lock on your phone to keep your device safe and secure.

    Comparing the two

    So is there really a difference? The transmission of the Shared Secret is still over https in both cases. That’s the moment where there is most likely going to be something/someone that could intercept the information.

    Once the secret is shared, the hardware device will probably be the more at risk device to reveal the secret. Both the card and the cell phone can be stolen from your pocket or purse. Except, once stolen, the burglar can just read the shared secret off the back of the hardware card; where unlocking an iPhone is kind of a nightmare.

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