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A U.K. security group says the IPSec protocol suffers from a severe vulnerability that allows attackers within a network to render encrypted traffic as plain text with only moderate effort. Although it's specific to Unix, it has broad ramifications that will probably interest anyone running a VPN or other IPSec-aware applications.
Tips of the Trade
Identifying hardware without having to physically open the box is a tremendous time-saver, and the right utility will tell you more than a physical examination of the hardware.
A particularly useful software utility for this is dmidecode. dmidecode reads information about a system's hardware as it is described in the system BIOS, according to the SMBIOS/DMI standard. (SMBIOS stands for System Management BIOS, while DMI stands for Desktop Management Interface.) dmidecode reads specs like system manufacturer, model name, serial numbers, CPU data, types of expansion slots, and pretty much everything on the mainboard, like so:
root@windbag:~# dmidecode # dmidecode 2.6 SMBIOS 2.3 present. 36 structures occupying 1128 bytes. Table at 0x000F0800. Handle 0x0000 DMI type 0, 20 bytes. BIOS Information Vendor: Award Software International, Inc. Version: 6.00 PG Release Date: 10/05/2000 Address: 0xE0000 Runtime Size: 128 kB ROM Size: 256 kB Characteristics: PCI is supported PNP is supported APM is supported BIOS is upgradeable BIOS shadowing is allowed ESCD support is available Boot from CD is supported Selectable boot is supported BIOS ROM is socketed EDD is supported 5.25"/360 KB floppy services are supported (int 13h) 5.25"/1.2 MB floppy services are supported (int 13h) 3.5"/720 KB floppy services are supported (int 13h) 3.5"/2.88 MB floppy services are supported (int 13h) Print screen service is supported (int 5h) 8042 keyboard services are supported (int 9h) Serial services are supported (int 14h) Printer services are supported (int 17h) CGA/mono video services are supported (int 10h) ACPI is supported USB legacy is supported AGP is supported LS-120 boot is supported ATAPI Zip drive boot is supported
And this is just a tiny snippet! The total output is several hundred lines. One useful aspect of dmidecode is that it tells you what kind of memory is installed and what is supported:
Handle 0x0006 DMI type 6, 12 bytes. Memory Module Information Socket Designation: DIMM1 Bank Connections: 0 1 Current Speed: 70 ns Type: DIMM SDRAM Installed Size: 256 MB (Single-bank Connection) Enabled Size: 256 MB (Single-bank Connection) Error Status: OK Handle 0x0007 DMI type 6, 12 bytes. Memory Module Information Socket Designation: DIMM2 Bank Connections: 2 3 Current Speed: 70 ns Type: Unknown Installed Size: Not Installed Enabled Size: Not Installed Error Status: OK
dmidecode runs on Linux, BeOS, the BSDs, and on Windows under Cygwin. It can also run on other machines when included in a home-built customized Knoppix disk. Simply boot up Knoppix on the machines you wish to examine.
Carla Schroder writes the Tips of the Trade section of Enterprise Unix Roundup. She also appears on Enterprise Networking Planet and Linux Planet, covering Linux from the desktop to the server room, and is the author of the Linux Cookbook.