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Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 11.29.50 AMA change recently in OS X’s Mail application has caused an unusual problem of not sending mail on the regular SMTP or IMAP ports. I’m not sure if its El Capitan that initiated this change because I do not send mail often from my desktop mail client.

After a message stuck in my outbox, I fired up my firewall live log display and could see my computer hitting TCP port 587 a few times. This port is blocked on my firewall because I’ve never needed it open.

Normal humans don’t run a firewall at home that is this locked down – normally any outbound traffic is open – but this works for me.

I did some research and apparently TCP 587 is a known email port – for SMTP using STARTTLS, which I didn’t think Mail used (or it didn’t until recently) to send mail. Everything in Mail’s preferences mentions TCP 993 (IMAPS or IMAP using SSL encryption).

FastMail has a very good article on what this port is used for and why its being used. Essentially it’s a TLS encrypted SMTP connection that offers a better way of validating the destination – which could possibly coincide with Apple’s use of a “token” to authenticate iCloud users. So after opening up TCP 587, Mail was able to send my email message on its merry way.




Cloning and deploying ESXi

I’ve got a pile of MicroSD cards, a few racks worth of blades in different locations, and a hankering to deploy VMware in a stateful manner by simply plugging these SD cards in and booting up the blades or deploy blades with SD cards and perform remote installs with as little effort as possible.


First challenge is to reduce the amount of effort in prepping or installing the base hypervisor on the SD cards.

I can clone them quickly using an SD card reader from a base image – however ESXi has to be prepared for cloning (Windows engineers will recognize this as a Sysprep).

  1. Install ESXi on a blade as you normally would.
  2. Boot ESXi and make sure it boots up without issues. You could join it to vCenter and push any applicable patches or VIBs your blade will need (Nexus 1k VEM, EMC PowerPath, etc).
  3. Log into the console and select the last option “Reset System Configuration” , press F-11 to confirm, press Enter to restart the host.
  4. Once ESXi reboots, shutdown the blade and grab the SD Card, that’ll be your master image.
  5. You can now clone this SD card or better yet, create a master template image file so you can push it multiple times. Each copy will generate its own UUID and Service Console MAC address so there will be no conflicts.

One thing to note – your password is now BLANK, so when you deploy – make sure you get a strong password on it. I’ll be using host profiles so that’ll be taken care of during the prep for production.


My second option is to create a custom install ISO. I’m looking to have this ISO boot to a menu or prompt that will allow the installing engineer enter in the host name, IP address, and whatnot – then install and customize the ESXi install automatically and reboot.

Still investigating that.


Trust is Everything.

We spend so much time working toward a goal, delivering on an expectation, that it becomes business as usual. People trust me to do my job, I trust others to do theirs. Together we make great teams, great divisions, and a great company for our customers.

In the last two weeks, two major companies have lost my trust. One, Anthem, an insurance company, that had 80M customer medical records stolen and the other Lenovo, a computer manufacture, that installed software on their consumer laptops and desktops that intercepted TLS/SSL encrypted traffic using a self signed encryption certificate and embedded it into the operating system.

I trusted these companies like I know my company’s customers trust us. How can we prevent becoming the next untrustworthy company?

For Anthem, the problem was not following the basics of data security. Encrypt your data at rest, in flight, and protect your keys at all cost. Restrict data access to only those who need it – and ONLY the data they need. What a logistics nightmare to coordinate that among the entire company’s applications – but not as bad as the nightmare they’re living with now.

Regardless if you store your data in a colocation with insane physical and electronic boarder security or your own onsite datacenter with James Bond proof security – thieves don’t have to get out of their underwear to make off with a billion dollars with of data.Screenshot 2015-02-21 20.25.54

Lenovo had a simple task of maintaining their tradition of building computers that people want. Someone made the decision to install some extra software (presumably for profit) on their consumer computers that gathers “We thought [Superfish] would enhance the shopping experience…“. I call bullshit – the software was harvesting their customers data by decrypting encrypted browser traffic using a “Man in the Middle” attack. Lenovo decided to make an extra dollar and deceive their customers into thinking the lock on their browser actually meant they were secure. It took five months for the word to get out on the Lenovo malware, but in the week it hit the media – I’ve read about it everywhere. I’m watching LNVGY to see what happens when the stock holders finally figure out what this means.

It means companies large and small that buy one or thousands of their products in bulk may begin to question the integrity of Lenovo. If they installed privacy busting malware into their consumer goods – what kind of nefarious tricks were in the latest ThinkPad or X laptop in my business? Is my CIO’s bank account going to be hacked, company secrets leaked to a Lenovo partner in China, or my laptop used as a portal for Chinese hackers to run rampant in my network? A secret decryption chip and hook into the network hardware to leak secrets back to home base? Sure, it’s far fetched… or is it? Stranger things have been dreamed up.

Anyone can prevent these – stand up and say something. Call out bad ideas for what they are. Identify security risks when you see them. These are what makes great people, great. They take on the challenge  instead of letting the big sleeping dragons sleep. Eventually they’ll wake up, on their own or with the help of someone, and lay waste to your kingdom.


Sophos UTM and Xbox Live NAT issues

In a previous post about the Sophos UTM, I’ve received some comments about Xbox Live.

I’ve recently rebuilt my Sophos UTM and found that my backup configuration files were encrypted with a password I couldn’t locate… my bad. So I’m rebuilding all of my firewall rules again.

For the Xbox 360 Live and Kinect, there are some quirks that I hope these steps help you overcome.

  1. Setup a DHCP reservation for your Xbox so that your UTM will create a network definition and the IP will remain the same.
  2. Create new service definitions for each of the ports listed in the base article here
    1. Port 88 (UDP)
    2. Port 3074 (UDP and TCP)
    3. Port 53 (UDP and TCP)
    4. Port 80 (TCP)
    5. Port 1863 (TCP and UDP)
  3. In my UTM, I’ve named them Xbox Live UDP 88, Xbox Live TCP & UDP 3074, etc. This helps keep your definitions clean and searchable.
  4. Create a definition group and call it Xbox Live and Kinect (or whatever helps you keep organized).
  5. Create a new Firewall rule
    1. Source Xbox 360 -> Services Xbox Live and Kinect -> Destination Any
  6. Create a new NAT rule
    1. Rule Type: DNAT (Destination)
    2. Matching Condition
      1. For Traffic from: Any
      2. Using service: Xbox Live TCP and UDP 3074
      3. Going to: External (Address)
    3. Action
      1. Change the destination to: Xbox 360
    4. Automatic Firewall rule: Checked!
    5. Save

Save and don’t forget to turn on your Xbox 360 firewall rule before testing.

Here are some screen captures that may help show you what these all mean.

Sophos UTM Xbox 360 NAT Rule XBox 360 Firewall Rule Xbox Service Definitions


Repairing AirPort coverage

I hope this helps someone but I’ve been chasing a wifi problem in my house for a few days and finally got to fixing it.

Equipment: 4th Gen Airport Extreme (802.11 a/b/g/n; 2.4GHz & 5GHz)

Symptoms: poor range, slow speeds outside of the room the airport was located.

Configuration: I have it configured auto everything across the board, no unique SSID for the 5Ghz network, and nothing customized other than DNS – thanks to DDOS on Charter’s DNS servers I swapped in Google and Level 3’s DNS servers.

I loaded a free app on my MacBook called WiFi Explorer that displays wifi signals, noise, and occupied channels but the one built into OS X works equally well. I noticed that the 2.4Ghz network was dropping off for 30-45 seconds every minute even though there are devices on my network that require 2.4GHz.

5GHz was solid but as expected it’s range was poor and signal strength at the distances I needed it to work in my house were very low.

Started with power cycling the router. No difference. Soft then Hard reset, no change. 2.4GHz just wouldn’t stay on.

Launched Airport Utility and reset the AirPort to the factory setting, no difference. So now I’m thinking hardware issue. Of course, this is not under warranty anymore.

The last trick I had available was to roll back the firmware. In the airport utility click on the AirPort Extreme to display the serial number and firmware version. Option click on the version and pick 7.6.3 from the list. The utility downloads and installs the firmware. Really couldn’t be more simple.

Bam all is good after the reboot. Both radios functioning at expected levels. So is it a firmware issue or a glitch? So I decided to upgrade the firmware to the latest. The latest does have some good fixes.

After the reboot everything has been solid again. WiFI Explorer shows 5GHz and 2.4GHz on solid and never dropping off. I’m going to chalk it up to a glitch in the firmware that was cleared by reloading the firmware. The only way to do that for these is to rollback then upgrade again. Luckily though in true apple fashion – the utility does all the hard work and maintains your configurations.

Also the iOS utility offers the same functionality, so it’s easy to repair these.

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