Academics poking things and seeing what happens

New Toy

- Posted in ponderings by with comments

So these arrived last week. Not had time to open them up until now.

AU$99 software-defined networking switch, the Zodiac FX from Northbound.

Should be fun.

Students Discover Moodle Vulnerability

- Posted in news by with comments

The reporting ( on this suggests a big scary hack at the university, but actually it's more of a good-news story about how vigilent our students are.

Internally, this got quite complicated, but the essence of it is:

  • Students found a potential vulnerability in a Moodle plugin
  • This is a vulnerability that affects any Moodle instance with the plugin - at Coventry or anywhere else.
  • Students also provided a fix, which has since been incorporated into the plugin by the author.
  • Very little data was actually at risk - lecture notes, test scores, but nothing like passwords or personal details.
  • So, this was a potential risk of session hijacking under quite specific conditions.
  • No privilege escalation!

Progress of the conference

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Concentrating hard Christo ponders

Taking care of the important stuff: Lunch

More violent than I remember...: Angry James

The debrief: Battle of the trees at the Wellington

Professionals, ready for the event.

Hold on to your brain

It's written in large text in the readme.

Share and use docker images over bittorrent, local writes being overlaid with something like the nifty UnionFS.

Our friends in the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit – Technical Intelligence Development Unit (WMROCU – TIDU) have a job opening.

The role sounds really interesting and the projects they get up to there seem like a lot of fun if you like the kinds of things we do on our course.

Course Promotional Video

- Posted in Uncategorized by with comments

Yep, that's me. So much filming time and then Tom, our video guy, must have had a long night trying to edit it into even this short clip.

A confusing blip in the log

- Posted in experiment by with comments

I've been experimenting with mail services to see which ones allow images to be viewed without explicit user request, and how they go about it if they do.

I made a little script that creates images as they're requested (big bold banners that say you shouldn't really see this without expecting it) and logs all the headers that might be of use. Rewrite voodoo makes it look like static image file and every header I could think of to turn off caching was enabled.

I started with gmail, since they changed their policy/process on this a little while ago and I've always wondered about it. The message said they'd made it safe to show some images automatically.

I sent myself a message, the idea being that it would almost certainly be judged a safe source. Later, I intend to see how these services respond to spoofed e-mails, but that's not for now.

The image is loaded, great. I check the log and find I get just a Google proxy IP and a helpful user-agent too: Wed, 02 Mar 2016 08:51:29 1456908689.717 /[redacted]/s2.jpg imname=s2 Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.1; rv:11.0) Gecko Firefox/11.0 (via GoogleImageProxy)

Server timestamp followed by request time in header, IP, image requested and header info, user-agent.

As expected.

But, I also got a line just before that is a bit more interesting.

Wed, 02 Mar 2016 08:35:29 1456907729.842 xx.xx.xx.xx /[redacted]/clock.jpg imname=clock Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; rv:6.0) Gecko/20110814 Firefox/6.0 Google Favicon

Now the http_x_forwarded_for header is set and it is my public IP (shown as xx.xx.xx.xx here). The requested image wasn't mentioned in the e-mail, but it is one I've used for testing purposes while developing the scripts. The user-agent is another Google bot, but not the proxy from before. And that image isn't set as the favicon at all, anywhere. It poppped up this morning before I opened the e-mail, but the e-mail was sent the night before, so it's been in my inbox and my gmail inbox has been open on this machine.

I'm currently trying to track down the cause and reproduce, but at the moment, all I know is that some google/gmail "thing" is reacting to what I'm going on my computer and accessing things on my behalf. It could be the browser but not directly.

I can't get my head around it at the moment - if it's a crawler, why is it referring to my IP? If it's my browser, why does it identify as Mozilla/Firefox on windows when that combination doesn't exist on my IP, and why as a crawler at all?

So I started out looking at one thing that tickled my curiosity and now I'm looking at a different puzzle. Oh, and I tried Googling but found no answer, so clearly this is a conspiracy of some sort. It usually is if you look hard enough.

So there's a blog now

- Posted in Uncategorized by with comments

Expect a few "ignore me"/"not a post" posts.

But then a stream of pure awesome. Like a new notebook, we'll write amazing content and this time we'll keep it up.

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