Petter Reinholdtsen

What did I learn from OpenSnitch this summer?
11th June 2023

With yesterdays release of Debian 12 Bookworm, I am happy to know the the interactive application firewall OpenSnitch is available for a wider audience. I have been running it for a few weeks now, and have been surprised about some of the programs connecting to the Internet. Some programs are obviously calling out from my machine, like the NTP network based clock adjusting system and Tor to reach other Tor clients, but others were more dubious. For example, the KDE Window manager try to look up the host name in DNS, for no apparent reason, but if this lookup is blocked the KDE desktop get periodically stuck when I use it. Another surprise was how much Firefox call home directly to, and, to mention a few, when I visit other web pages. This direct connection happen even if I told Firefox to always use a proxy, and the proxy setting is ignored for this traffic. Other surprising connections come from audacity and dirmngr (I do not use Gnome). It took some trial and error to get a good default set of permissions. Without it, I would get popups asking for permissions at any time, also the most inconvenient ones where I am in the middle of a time sensitive gaming session.

I suspect some application developers should rethink when then need to use network connections or DNS lookups, and recommend testing OpenSnitch (only apt install opensnitch away in Debian Bookworm) to locate and report any surprising Internet connections on your desktop machine.

At the moment the upstream developer and Debian package maintainer is working on making the system more reliable in Debian, by enabling the eBPF kernel module to track processes and connections instead of depending in content in /proc/. This should enter unstable fairly soon.

As usual, if you use Bitcoin and want to show your support of my activities, please send Bitcoin donations to my address 15oWEoG9dUPovwmUL9KWAnYRtNJEkP1u1b.

Update 2023-06-12: I got a tip about a list of privacy issues in Free Software and the #debian-privacy IRC channel discussing these topics.

Tags: debian, english, opensnitch.

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