Securing Tinderbox network access

For those who wonder why Excelsior is now built for a week and it’s still not running in full capacity, the reason is relatively simple: I’m still trying to figure out how to handle network security so that I can give other developers access to it, and not risk that we have a security breach in other places.

The first problem is that the current setup I need to use and the final one will be very different: right now the system is connected to the internal network of my employer, while in production it will be DMZ’d, with a public IP available straight to it. The latter setup will let me set up an IPv6 tunnel, which means all the internal containers will be available by themselves, while the current one prevents me to set it up at all.

Previously this was much easier to deal with simply because I had control over an external firewall myself, which took care of most of the filtering, which combined with LXC networking options made it decently easy to deal with. Unfortunately this time I have to do without this.

One of the things that might not be obvious from the post above, nor from the documentation, is that the three setups I have drawn are the ones that require the least amount of configuration on the host-side: if you use the standard bridge, you just need to start net.br0 (or equivalent), and LXC will connect the host-side virtual Ethernet pair to the bridge by itself. If you’re using the MACVLAN modes instead, the containers will piggy-back the interface of the host, and then rely on the external router/firewall/switch to deal with the configuration — by the way I’m glad that man lxc.conf now actually says that you’re supposed to have a reflective switch to use those modes. You can probably guess it’s not that great an idea if you expect lots of internal communication.

What I’m going to do for now is setting up a system that is defended as much as possible by depth, with iptables carrying out enough filtering that I should be realistically safe. Unfortunately just iptables is not enough and what you need is iptables and ebtables (for Ethernet Bridging filtering), to make sure that the containers’ don’t dupe your IPs or something.

The idea is that one IPv6 is enabled, you can jump straight into the tinderboxes, which is required to control it, but until then, the host system acts as a jump host through a custom scponly setup, which only allows forwarding, as ProxyCommand, port 22 of others boxes within that same system.

I’d like to show more documentation of what I’m trying to do, and what I achieved already, but to do so, I’m afraid I’ll be needing some more … visual examples, as it’s very hard to explain it in words, while it should be much more clearer with a series of drawings. I guess I’ll start working on them soonish, maybe if Luca can package Synfig for me…

For now, this is enough, I guess.

3 thoughts on “Securing Tinderbox network access

  1. Hey Diego.What prevents you from putting your firewall in the company provided DMZ and Excelsior behind it?Thanks for the blog, btw. I’m learning tons of stuff reading it! :)


  2. Lars, I’m afraid that it would be too much to ask: the rack space is limited and so is the power. But the option of going with iptables and ebtables should be enough… although there is another way: I just need to set the IPs with LXC and then drop the net_admin capability.Pavel, that option doesń’t work very well if one external IP is all you have to work with, I’m afraid.


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