My book, BeagleBone for Secret Agents, is now available

My book, BeagleBone for Secret Agents, is now available. The title is slightly misleading as you need not be a secret agent to enjoy this book. ;) There are five self-contained projects involving electronics, cryptography, and various software packages but I wanted to write a book that was more than just a collection of projects. In BBfSa, I tried to motivate the social and individual importance of using software like Tor, GPG, and OTR. While the projects are cool, IMHO, I’m hoping that readers will appreciate the need for and difficulty of developing privacy enhancing technologies.

I picked projects that were explicitly more detailed than one could describe in a blog post. Most of them combine hardware and software and I would describe the projects as challenging, but attainable. If you decide to buy it hopefully you not only enjoy it, but learn something as well.

The book is available as a DRM free eBook and as a bound collection of printed dead-trees. I’ve stopped reading with eBooks readers, but there are just over 100 references, most with URLs, and I can appreciate the convenience of using one. You can visit my BBfSa page to see its availability or buy it direct from Packt Publishing.

Thanks to the many people at Packt who helped with the direction, editing, and layout. I was lucky to have very talented reviewers. Lastly, thank you Nate for writing an incredibly insightful forward and to SparkFun, without whom the projects in this book would not have been possible.

BeagleBone for Secret Agents just $5 for a limited time

For all the hardware hackers looking for a gift, either for yourself or for others, BeagleBone for Secret Agents is only $5 as an eBook until January 6th! Actually, all Packt eBooks are on sale for the same price until then. Also, all Packt eBooks are DRM-free and I’m very happy to have a book with a publisher that supports this.

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So, if you have a long flight to the in-laws this year1, stock up on some eBooks!


  1. I love you Mom and Dad! ;) 

My small cameo in “Building Open Source Hardware”

Building Open Source Hardware, by Alicia Gibb, is now available! I received my copy tonight and just by flipping through it I can tell it is an impressive collaborative effort that captures the zeitgeist of the OSHW movement. There are over 16 contributing authors who share their expertise in areas such as wearables, licensing, design, manufacturing, materials, and documentation. I’ll post a proper review once I’ve completed reading it.

All proceeds of this book go to the Open Source Hardware Association.

All proceeds of this book go to the Open Source Hardware Association.

I’m also proud to announce that a very small contribution of mine made it into this book. I wrote a brief essay of OSHW Security Do’s and Don’ts which unabashedly occupies Appendix B. There are no shocking revelations — just some good common sense practices.

If you are involved in any way with OSHW, you should like this book. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

Let's hear it for all the Appendix Bs out there!

Let’s hear it for all the Appendix Bs out there!

Hacking the SAINTCON Badge

SparkFun Electronics gave me a free pass to SAINTCON, a networking security conference in Odgen, Utah. How did I receive this? Well, social media addiction has its rare benefits and I was the first to respond to a tweet.

SAINTCON hosted a Hardware Hacking Village (HHV) this year and as the recipient of a SparkFun-sponsored ticket, I felt I should check out the HHV immediately. I sat down, soldered my badge, and then proceeded to complete all five hardware challenges; I was the first to complete hack the badge. That’s what happens when a SparkFun social-media-addict goes to a conference.

Completed badge with the blinky kit.

Completed badge with the blinky kit.

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Banned Books Week 2014

My initial reaction to Banned Books Week, which is this week, was “oh, this when we remember how we used to ban books back in the 50s.” I went to the Banned Books Week website and found a pamphlet that shows the banned or challenged books, in 2013! Looking over the list, I’m incredulous that books like the Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale, and Diary of Anne Frank, which a Northville, Michigan middle school try to ban, are still routinely challenged.

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Simple script to change hostname on BeagleBone

I update my BeagleBone images very frequently. As soon as you have more than one beagle running around your house, keeping track of them takes some effort. I like to have unique hostnames set for each device so that I can ssh into the unique device. I also put a little sticker on each one to remind me of the hostname.

I'm a H2G2 fan. I feel somewhat compelled to always have a picture. The use of the filter in this picture is borderline relationship ending.

I’m a H2G2 fan. I feel somewhat compelled to always have a picture. The use of the filter in this picture is borderline relationship ending.


Anyway, it’s pretty easy to change the hostname on Debian. To do it properly you need to edit two files, /etc/hosts and /etc/hostname. It’s an annoying little task that I do often enough I finally decided to script it. I should start making a collection of these scripts as I perform the same tasks each time, but we have to start somewhere.

Behold, the changehostname.sh script:1

#!/bin/bash

if [[ "$#" -ne 1 ]]; then
    echo "$0 usage: newhostname (run as root)"
    exit 1
fi

name=$(hostname)

hostname $1
sed -i "s/$name/$1/" /etc/hosts

Also available via wget:

wget https://gist.githubusercontent.com/jbdatko/d7fd5f4232db99f85e00/raw/636dd36cf34069489cd3988de7381d41c7595469/changehostname.sh
chmod +x changehostname.sh

  1. It’s not that impressive, I know. I need to put all of these scripts in a repo and then somehow automatically download them and run them.2 
  2. There may be a utility that does this already. But it’s fun to re-invent the wheel every so often. 

CHUCKWAGON design files from DEF CON 22 are released

The schematic, EAGLE CAD files, and Bill of Materials for the CHUCKWAGON I2C adapter as presented at DEFCON22 are now available. You can buy the board directly from OSH Park, the components from Digikey, and solder the device yourself. For those looking for some references on using I2C on the BeagleBone Black, check out my I2C references post.

CHUCWAGON soldered to the CryptoCape. I soldered wires underneath and to the male headers just below the CHUCKWAGON.

CHUCWAGON soldered to the CryptoCape. I soldered wires underneath and to the male headers just below the CHUCKWAGON.


It does require surface mount soldering, but it’s a good board on which to practice. The top layer isn’t so bad but the pads for the P-channel MOSFET on the bottom are a bit tight. If you don’t want to deal with the P-Channel MOSFET, you can put a solder bridge over the source and drain and connect the 5V rail from the VGA adapter to the board. Just be careful not to get the gate, which will short the power rail to ground!

The CHUCKWAGON was also in the NSA Playset Deluxe package. This package was auctioned at the EFF auction, theSummit, which sold for over $2,000. A representative from the EFF passed along their thanks:

Thank you very much for your fantastic donation this year! It’s clear how appreciated it was as it is now the highest valued item auctioned at the EFF summits… ever!

The collection of NSA Playset gadgets. There's a CHUCKWAGON in there somewhere... Photo by Michael Ossman

The collection of NSA Playset gadgets. There’s a CHUCKWAGON in there somewhere…
Photo by Michael Ossman


I think the two HackRFs in the bucket were of greater value than the CHUCKWAGON though ;)

Happy Hacking!

DIY Hardware Implant talk at DEF CON time is posted

My DEF CON 22 Talk, NSA Playset: DIY WAGONBED Hardware Implant over I2C, time is now posted on the DEF CON schedule. It’s Sunday at 11:00 am in Track 1. Be sure to stay for the NSA Playset: GSM Sniffing directly following!

The NSA Playset talks have been receiving some attention in the press. You don’t want to miss them!

Abstract:

In this talk we present an open source hardware version of the NSA’s hardware trojan codenamed WAGONBED. From the leaked NSA ANT catalog, WAGONBED is described as a malicious hardware device that is connected to a server’s I2C bus. Other exploits, like IRONCHEF, install a software exploit that exfiltrate data to the WAGONBED device. Once implanted, the WAGONBED device is connected to a GSM module to produce the NSA’s dubbed CROSSBEAM attack.

We present CHUCKWAGON, an open source hardware device that attaches to the I2C bus. With the CHUCKWAGON adapter, we show how to attach an embedded device, like a BeagleBone, to create your own hardware implant. We show how to add a GSM module to CHUCKWAGON to provide the hardware for the CROSSBEAM exploit. We improve the WAGONBED implant concept by using a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) to protect data collection from the target. The talk will demonstrate how these features can be used for good, and evil!

CryptoCape screen casts are posted

After months of work, the CryptoCape is now available at SparkFun Electronics. This cape adds a bunch of security features to the BeagleBone Black. There are seven independent ICs on that board that are connected over I2C. Each IC has a range of features as such, there’s a lot one can do with this hardware. For those who like to read, check out the hookup guide for examples and a walk-through. If you want to listen and watch an off-the-cuff screencast of me performing at demo, check out these screencasts.

Me with the CryptoCape and a good German Beer.

Me with the CryptoCape and a good German Beer.

I’m very grateful to SparkFun for supporting this idea. I approached them with this idea and applied for their Hacker-in-Residence program. Back then, SparkFun was still calling “capes” “shields”. Now they have a slick BeagleBone Proto Cape in addition to mine, so I’d like to think I helped them get more into the BeagleBone :)

I’ve been having a lot of fun with this cape. Of course, I like the security ICs and written a few drivers for them. Even if you are not into security, the onboard ATmega is really fun. It can be flashed from the BeagleBone so you can combine Arduino projects with the Beagle!

I have a few boards on Tindie, that I hand assemble, but this is the first device that’s being professionally manufactured. This is the first, of hopefully more, open source hardware security devices from Cryptotronix. I have a few projects spinning now, but if you support open source hardware, and want to add some hardware security, feel free to contact me.

I’ll be talking more about the CryptoCape, how I got into this, and some project ideas at HOPE X in NYC this summer.

For those with a darker color hat, my DEF CON 22 talk was recently accepted. Once the abstract is posted on the speaker page I’ll announce that here. <evil grin>