Debian GNU/Linux on a HP Elitebook 845 G8

Some time ago, I received a new laptop, the HP Elitebook 845 G8. This is a 14″ laptop with an AMD CPU of the Renoir family, in my case an AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 5850U. As always, I run Debian GNU/Linux testing (currently Bookworm) on it. In this post, I will explain how to get all hardware working. This guide probably also works for other G8 Elitebooks, such as the Elitebook 835 G8 and Elitebook 855 G8, because they are all quite similar.

You can find detailed logs and reports of people running Linux on the Elitebook 845 G8 in the Hardware for Linux database.


I used a USB disk to boot the installer and a USB-C dock with an Ethernet interface to do a network installation. If you use the Debian installer with non-free firmware, you can also do the installation over wifi. I have not tried the current stable release Debian 11 Bullseye on this system. For best compatibility I strongly recommend testing because it has a more recent kernel and drivers.

Download the installation cd for Debian testing with non-free firmware: you need the file firmware-testing-amd64-netinst.iso.

Now we need to write it to a USB disk. Make sure there is no data on the drive you want to keep, because this process will completely wipe the disk.

To write the ISO image to a USB disk, Windows users can use the application Rufus, MacOS users can use Balena Etcher. If you are using Linux, you can dd the ISO image on your USB disk, or use a GUI like Fedora Media Writer.

Reboot the system and press F10 when the HP logo appears to load the BIOS/UEFI setup. Go to the Advanced page and select Boot Options. There make sure that USB Storage Boot is enabled. If you want to work with custom kernels, it can be handy to disable Secure Boot in SecuritySecure Boot Configuration, but it’s not needed to install and use Debian.

Save the changes you made (if any) and reboot the system and press F9 at the HP logo to get the boot menu. In the boot menu, select your USB drive to start the Debian installer.

Enabling non-free repositories

We will need to configure the non-free repositories for apt because we need several firmware packages from non-free. Edit /etc/apt/sources.list and check whether any deb line has main contrib and non-free at the end. If not add it, and then run

# apt update

Updating the BIOS/UEFI firmware

If you have a Windows installation, you can update the firmware from there, even before you install Linux. But you can also update the firmware without Windows. Follow the instructions in that blog post. It’s important to do this, not only because this gives you essential security fixes, but also bug fixes, some of which specifically for Linux compatibility.

Updating CPU firmware

Install the package amd64-microcode to ensure your AMD CPU is always running the latest microcode, which includes security fixes:

# apt-get install amd64-microcode

Flashing other firmware

The fwupd utility can download and install firmware from the LVFS. The firmware of the fingerprint reader of the Elitebook 845 G8, can be updated like this, and may be necessary to get the fingerprint reader working in Linux. First make sure fwupd is installed:

# apt install fwupd fwupd-amd64-signed

Now update all available firemware:

# fwupdtool update

If you have a HP USB-C Dock G5, then new firmware is also available in the LVFS, but it’s in the testing repository. To enable this repository, run this command:

# fwupdmgr enable-remote lvfs-testing 

Radeon Vega GPU

lspci identifies this GPU as

04:00.0 VGA compatible controller [0300]: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI] Cezanne [1002:1638] (rev d1)

First make sure the firmware is installed for the GPU. This is needed to get any hardware acceleration.

# apt install firmware-amd-graphics

Then make sure these packages are installed in order to get Vulkan, VA-API, VDPAU and OpenCL support:

 # apt install mesa-va-drivers mesa-vulkan-drivers mesa-vdpau-drivers mesa-opencl-icd

Now add this to /etc/environment so that it uses the correct VDPAU driver:


In order to get GStreamer based players to use VA-API, you need to intsall this package:

# apt install gstreamer1.0-vaapi

After installing the firmware and editing /etc/environment you will need to reboot your system.

Unfortunately most video players and web browsers still don’t use VA-API hardware acceleration by default, but this needs to be configured manually. I will write a separate article about that later.

Realtek wifi adapter

The wifi adapter is a Realtek RTL8822CE according to lspci:

01:00.0 Network controller [0280]: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8822CE 802.11ac PCIe Wireless Network Adapter [10ec:c822]

Install the firmware to get it working:

# apt install firmware-realtek

This laptop can also be delivered with an Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6 adapter (which is actually a better option than this one from Realtek). If you have this one, you will need to install the firmware-iwlwifi package instead.

Smartcard reader

lsusb identifies this smartcard reader as an Alcor AU9540:

Bus 005 Device 004: ID 058f:9540 Alcor Micro Corp. AU9540 Smartcard Reader

Note that it only sees the smartcard reader when a card has been inserted.

You will need pscd with the CCID driver to use this smartcard reader:

# apt install pscsd

Fingerprint reader

The fingerprint reader can be seen like this in lsusb:

Bus 003 Device 003: ID 06cb:00df Synaptics, Inc. 

Make sure you have installed all firmware updates with fwupd and then you need to install these packages:

# apt install fprintd libpam-fprintd

In GNOME, under SettingsUsers you can enable login on fingerprint and add your fingerprints.



04:00.5 Multimedia controller: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] ACP/ACP3X/ACP6x Audio Coprocessor (rev 01)<br />04:00.6 Audio device: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] Family 17h/19h HD Audio Controller

Sound is working out of the box. I recommend switching from Pulseaudio to Pipewire.



Bus 001 Device 002: ID 0408:5348 Quanta Computer, Inc. HP HD Camera

The webcam works out of the box. Many applications will see the IR camera as a second camera.



Bus 003 Device 002: ID 0bda:b00c Realtek Semiconductor Corp. 802.11ac WLAN Adapter

If you use lsusb -v you will see that this is actually the Bluetooth Radio adapter. It is combined with the wifi adapter, hence the confusion.


HP does not support S3 (traditional suspend-to-ram/standby) in its recent Elitebooks any more, but instead uses s0ix (s2idle/suspend-to-idle/modern standby). S2idle support for AMD CPU’s was only added in Linux 5.11 with the amd_pmc driver. I recommend a very recent kernel, because later kernel versions had bug fixes in this regard too. However suspend regressed in stable update 5.17.3 (and others), a bug which was fixed in 5.17.5. I’m using a custom-built 5.17.5 kernel, but a fixed kernel will appear soon in Debian.

If you have HP Drivelock enabled, then your system will fail to resume. Drivelock is a security feature which can be set up in the BIOS and requires you to enter a password when starting up the system in order to access the contents of the disk. When trying to resume the system, fans start running, the keyboard backlight reacts to key presses, but the screen remains blank, nothing is written to logs and also network does not come up. Apparently this is a bug in HP’s BIOS/UEFI firmware which can be worked around by adding iommu=pt to the kernel command line. To do so, edit /etc/default/grub and add this to the variable GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT. For example:


Then update the GRUB configuration:

# update-grub

Install isenkram to help install drivers when plugging in hardware

Isenkram is a utitliy which will show a message when you connect hardware to your system and extra software or firmware is available for that hardware.

# apt install isenkram

Enabling trimming of the NVME SSD

Enable the fstrim timer to make sure the SSD is trimmed on regular intervals:

# systemctl enable – now fstrim.timer

Increasing battery time

Switch to AMD P-state driver

AMD developed the amd_pstate driver which was introduced in Linux 5.17. amd_pstate offers better performance per Watt than acpi-cpufreq


blacklist acpi-cpufreq



Set up TLP

TLP is a tool which optimizes power consumption of your system in order to increase battery time. TLP also has an options Radio Device Wizard, which I will use here to automatically disable wifi when the system is connected via an Ethernet cable.

# apt install tlp tlp-rdw

Configure the Radio Device Wizard by creating the file /etc/tlp.d/10-tlp-rdw.conf:

# tlp-rdw - Parameters for the radio device wizard

# Possible devices: bluetooth, wifi, wwan.
# Separate multiple radio devices with spaces.
# Default: <none> (for all parameters below)


# Radio devices to enable on disconnect.


# Radio devices to enable/disable when docked.


# Radio devices to enable/disable when undocked.


To enable best ASPM power saving features when on battery, create /etc/tlp.d/20-aspm.conf:

PCIE_ASPM_ON_AC=default<br />PCIE_ASPM_ON_BAT=powersupersave

You will also need to edit /etc/default/grub file to add pcie_aspm=force to the Linux command line, for example

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet iommu=pt pcie_aspm=force"

And run update-grub to update the GRUB configuration.

Disable Bluetooth and wifi when on battery and they are not in use by creating /etc/tlp.d/30-disable-devices-on-battery.conf:

DEVICES_TO_DISABLE_ON_BAT_NOT_IN_USE="bluetooth nfc wifi wwan"

Submitting your system to the Linux Hardware database

The Linux Hardware database is a useful tool where users searching for hardware, can check the compatibility of systems with Linux. I recommend running this tool on all your Linux systems. After submission, you will get a link where you can view the data and indicate whether all hardware works and which work-arounds you had to apply. Click on the Review button on the page to do so.

# apt install hw-probe
# hwprobe – all – upload


Actually Linux compatibility of the HP Elitebook 845 is actually in good shape. It’s not perfect, but all hardware can be made to work. On distros like Ubuntu, which install non-free firmware by default, it should even be easier to make everything work. Still HP lags behind Dell and Lenovo in Linux support, because they don’t make it possible to flash the BIOS/UEFI firmware using fwupd, while all recent Dell and Lenovo business laptops have their firmware available in the LVFS. Also the problem that iommu=pt needs to be used to successfully resume the laptop when Drivelock is enabled, is a problem that HP should address in a BIOS update.

Updating HP BIOS firmware from Linux

I have an HP Elitebook 845 G8 laptop. I wanted to update the BIOS/UEFI firmware to the latest version. This is important because firmware updates include essential security fixes.

On Linux you can use the LVFS (Linux Vendor Firmware Service) to easily install firmware updates with the fwupd utility or any of its graphical front-ends (such as GNOME Software or KDE Discover). Dell and Lenovo offer firmware updates for many of their systems via LVFS, however HP only has a very small number of firmware updates available on LVFS.

Fortunately it is possible to install firmware updates without having Windows installed, but it’s a bit more manual work. Here I will explain how I managed to update my Elitebook 845 G8, but this should work for most recent HP laptops and desktops.

First you need to download the firmware update for your system. Use your favourite web search engine and search for the model name and add the word downloads to it, for example: HP Elitebook 845 G8 downloads. The first hit will probably bring you to the right page, in my case:

If you don’t know the exact model of your system, use this command (as root):

# /usr/sbin/dmidecode | grep "Product Name"

On the HP downloads page, you will probably get a mssage that it was unable to find drivers for your product. Click on the link Choose a different OS and select any Windows 10 version. Now you will find the latest firmware for your system under BIOS-System Firmware. Click on Download. It will try to let you install a Windows Download and Install Assistant: click on No thanks, I will download and install manually to directly get the firmware file, which should have a name similar to sp138978.exe.

Once you have downloaded this file, we need to extract it. You can use 7-Zip for that. Make sure it is installed on your system:

# apt-install 7zip

Then we will make a directory and extract the firmware package in it:

$ mkdir /tmp/hpfirmware
$ cd /tmp/hpfirmware
$ 7zz x  ~/Downloads/sp138978.exe

You will see many files in the /tmp/hpfirmware directory, such as the History.txt file which you can read if you want to know which changes and bug fixes this update brings. The firmware itself is stored in a file with the extension .bin, in my case it’s named T82_01082000.bin.

To install this firmware, we have to copy it to a directory HP/DEVFW/firmware.bin in your EFI directory (this assumes that you are booting your system in UEFI mode and not in legacy BIOS mode). So as root run these commands from the /tmp/hpfirmware directory:

# mkdir -p /boot/efi/EFI/HP/DEVFW
# cp *.bin /boot/efi/EFI/HP/DEVFW/firmware.bin

Now reboot your system. In GRUB’s menu, choose UEFI Firmware Settings. You will get HP’s Startup Menu of which the last menu item is Update System and Supported Device Firmware. This should now automatically install the firmware update. This takes several minutes , and you screen will go blank during some time: don’t panic and let it run.

Web application firewall: Modsecurity and Core Rule Set

A web application firewall (WAF) filters HTTP traffic. By integrating this in your web server, you can make sure potentially dangerous requests are blocked before they arrive to your web application or sensitive data leaks out of your web server. This way you add an extra defensive layer potentially offering extra protection against zero-day vulnerabilities in your web server or web applications. In this blog post, I give a tutorial how to install and configure ModSecurity web application firewall and the Core Rule Set on Debian. With some minor adaptions you can also use this guide for setting up ModSecurity on Ubuntu or other distributions.

ModSecurity is the most well-known open source web application firewall. The future of ModSecurity does not look too bright but fortunately with Coraza WAF an alternative which is completely compatible with ModSecurity is in development. At this moment Coraza only integrates with the Caddy web server, and does not have a connector for Apache or NGinx so for that reason it is currently not yet usable as a replacement for ModSecurity.

While ModSecurity provides the framework for filtering HTTP traffic, you also need rules which define what to bloc and that’s where the Core Rule Set (CRS) comes in. CRS is a set of generic rules winch offer protection to a various range of common attacks via HTTP, such as SQL injection, code injection and cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.

Install ModSecurity and the Core Rule Set on Debian

I install the Apache module for ModSecurity, the geoip-database, which can be used for blocking all requests from certain countries, and modsecurity-crs, which contains the Core Rule Set. I take this package from testing, because it has a newer version (version 3.3.2 at the time of writing). There is no risk in taking this package from testing, because it only contains the rules and does not depend on any other packages from testing/unstable. If you prefer faster updates, you can also use unstable.

# apt install libapache2-mod-security2 geoip-database
# apt install -t testing modsecurity-crs

Configuring ModSecurity

In order to load the ModSecurity module in Apache, run this command:

# a2enmod security2

Then copy the example ModSecurity configuration file to /etc/modsecurity/modsecurity.conf:

cp /etc/modsecurity/modsecurity.conf-recommended /etc/modsecurity/modsecurity.conf

Now edit /etc/modsecurity/modsecurity.conf. I highlight some of the options:

SecRuleEngine on
SecRequestBodyLimit 536870912
SecRequestBodyNoFilesLimit 131072
SecAuditLog /var/log/apache2/modsec_audit.log
#"id:'200004',phase:2,t:none,log,deny,msg:'Multipart parser detected a possible unmatched boundary.'"
SecPcreMatchLimit 500000
SecPcreMatchLimitRecursion 500000
SecStatusEngine Off

The SecRuleEngine option controls whether rules should be processed. If set to Off, you completely disable all rules, with On you enable them and it will block malicious actions. If set to DetectionOnly, ModSecurity will only log potential malicious activity flagged by your rules, but will not block them. DetectionOnly can be useful for temporary trying out the rules in order to find false positives before you really start blocking potential malicious activity.

The SecAuditLog option defines a file which contains audit logs. This file will contain detailed logs about every request triggering a ModSecurity rule.

The SecPcreMatchLimit and SecPcreMatchLimitRecursion set the match limit and match limit recursion for the regular expression library PCRE. Setting this high enough will prevent errors that the PCRE limits were exceeded while analyzing data, but setting it too high can make ModSecurity vulnerable to a Denial of Service (DoS) attack. A Core Rule Set developer recommends a value of 50000 so that’s what I use here.

I change SecRequestBodyLimit to a higher value to allow large file uploads.

I disable the rule 200004 because it is known to cause false positives.

Set SecStatusEngine to Off to prevent ModSecurity sending version information back its developers.

After changing any configuration related to ModSecurity or the Core Rule Set, reload your Apache web server:

# systemctl reload apache2

Configuring the Core Rule Set

The Core Rule Set can be configured via the file /etc/modsecurity/crs/crs-setup.conf.

Anomaly Scoring

By default the Core Rule Set is using anomaly scoring mode. This means that individual rules add to a so called anomaly score, which at the end is evaluated. If the anomaly score exceeds a certain threshold, then the traffic is blocked. You can read more about this configuration in crs-setup.conf but the default configuration should be fine for most people.

Setting the paranoia level

The paranoia level is a number from 1 to 4 which determines which rules are active and contribute to the anomaly scoring. The higher the paranoia level, the more rules are activated and hence the more aggressive the Core Rule Set is, offering more protection but potentially also causing more false positives. By default the paranoia level is set to 1. If you work with sensitive data, it is recommended to increase the paranoia level.

The executing paranoia level defines the rules which will be executed but their score will not be added to the anomaly scoring. When HTTP traffic hits rules of the executing paranoia level, this traffic will only be logged but not be blocked. It is a especially useful to prepare for increasing the paranoia level and finding false positives on this higher level, without causing any disruption for your users.

To set the paranoia level to 1 and the executing paranoia level to 2, make sure you have these rules set in crs-setup.conf:

SecAction \
SecAction \

Once you have fixed all false positives, you can raise the paranoia level to 2 to increase security.

Defining the allowed HTTP methods

By default the Core Rule Set only allows the GET, HEAD, POST and OPTIONS HTTP methods. For many standard sites this will be enough but if your web applications also use restful APIs or WebDAV, then you will need to add the required methods. Change rule 900200, and add the HTTP methods mentioned in the comments in crs-setup.conf.

SecAction \
  setvar:'tx.allowed_methods=GET HEAD POST OPTIONS'"

Disallowing old HTTP versions

There is a rule which determines which HTTP versions you allow in HTTP requests. I uncomment it and modify it to only allow HTTP versions 1.1 and 2.0. Legitimate browsers and bots always use one of these modern HTTP versions and older versions usually are a sign of malicious activity.

SecAction \
  setvar:'tx.allowed_http_versions=HTTP/1.1 HTTP/2 HTTP/2.0'"

Blocking specific countries

Personally I’m not a fan of completely blocking all traffic from a whole country, because you will also block legitimate visitors to your site, but in case you want to this, you can configure this in crs-setup.conf:

SecGeoLookupDB /usr/share/GeoIP/GeoIP.dat
SecAction \

Add the two-letter country codes you want to block to the last line (before the two quotes), multiple country codes separated by a space.

Make sure you have the package goeip-database installed.

Core Rule Set Exclusion rules for well-known web applications

The Core Rule Set contains some rule exclusions for some well-known web applications like WordPress, Drupal and NextCloud which reduces the number of false positives. I add the following section to crs-setup.conf which will allow me to enable the exclusions in the Apache configuration by setting the WEBAPPID variable in the Apache configuration whenever I need them.

SecRule WEBAPPID '@beginsWith wordpress' 'id:20000,phase:1,nolog,pass,t:none setvar:tx.crs_exclusions_wordpress=1'
SecRule WEBAPPID '@beginsWith drupal' 'id:20001,phase:1,nolog,pass,t:none setvar:tx.crs_exclusions_drupal=1'
SecRule WEBAPPID '@beginsWith dokuwiki' 'id:20002,phase:1,nolog,pass,t:none setvar:tx.crs_exclusions_dokuwiki=1'
SecRule WEBAPPID '@beginsWith nextcloud' 'id:20003,phase:1,nolog,pass,t:none setvar:tx.crs_exclusions_nextcloud=1'
SecRule WEBAPPID '@beginsWith cpanel' 'id:20004,phase:1,nolog,pass,t:none setvar:tx.crs_exclusions_cpanel=1'
SecRule WEBAPPID '@beginsWith xenforo' 'id:20005,phase:1,nolog,pass,t:none setvar:tx.crs_exclusions_xenforo=1'

Adding rules for Log4Shell and Spring4Shell detection

At the end of 2021 a critical vulnerability CVE-2021-44228, named Log4Shell, was detected in Log4j, which allows remote attackers to run code on a server with the vulnerable Log4j version. While the Core Rule Set offered some mitigation of this vulnerability out of the box, this protection was not complete. New improved detection rules against Log4Shell were developed. Because of the severity of this bug and the fact that it’s being exploited in the wild, I strongly recommend adding this protection manually when using ModSecurity version 3.3.2 (or older). Newer, not yet released versions, should have complete protection out of the box.

First modify /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/security2.conf so that it looks like this:

<IfModule security2_module>
        # Default Debian dir for modsecurity's persistent data
        SecDataDir /var/cache/modsecurity

        # Include all the *.conf files in /etc/modsecurity.
        # Keeping your local configuration in that directory
        # will allow for an easy upgrade of THIS file and
        # make your life easier
        IncludeOptional /etc/modsecurity/*.conf

        # Include OWASP ModSecurity CRS rules if installed
        IncludeOptional /usr/share/modsecurity-crs/*.load
        SecRuleUpdateTargetById 932130 "REQUEST_HEADERS"

Then create the file /etc/modsecurity/99-CVE-2021-44228.conf with this content:

# Generic rule against CVE-2021-44228 (Log4j / Log4Shell)
# See
    msg:'Potential Remote Command Execution: Log4j CVE-2021-44228', \

In March 2022 CVE-2022-22963, another remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability was published in the Spring framework was published. The Core Rule Set developed a new rule to protect against this vulnerability which will be included in the next version, but the rule can be added manually if you are running the Core Rule Set version 3.3.2 or older.

To do so, create the file /etc/modsecurity/99-CVE-2022-22963.conf with this content:

# This rule is also triggered by the following exploit(s):
# -
# -
    "@rx (?:class\.module\.classLoader\.resources\.context\.parent\.pipeline|springframework\.context\.support\.FileSystemXmlApplicationContext)" \
    msg:'Remote Command Execution: Malicious class-loading payload',\
    logdata:'Matched Data: %{MATCHED_VAR} found within %{MATCHED_VAR_NAME}',\

Don’t forget to reload your Apache configuration after adding these rules.

Testing ModSecurity and checking the logs

We can now easily test ModSecurity by doing a request which tries to abuse a cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability:

$ curl -I "<script>alert('CRS+Sandbox+Release')</script>"

This should return HTTP response 403 (Forbidden).

Whenever something hits your ModSecurity rules, this will be logged in your Apache error log. The above request has created these messages in the error log:

[Sat Apr 09 22:22:02.716558 2022] [:error] [pid 847584:tid 140613499016960] [client client-ip:49688] [client client-ip] ModSecurity: Warning. detected XSS using libinjection. [file "/usr/share/modsecurity-crs/rules/REQUEST-941-APPLICATION-ATTACK-XSS.conf"] [line "55"] [id "941100"] [msg "XSS Attack Detected via libinjection"] [data "Matched Data: XSS data found within ARGS:search: <script>alert('CRS Sandbox Release')</script>"] [severity "CRITICAL"] [ver "OWASP_CRS/3.3.2"] [tag "application-multi"] [tag "language-multi"] [tag "platform-multi"] [tag "attack-xss"] [tag "paranoia-level/1"] [tag "OWASP_CRS"] [tag "capec/1000/152/242"] [hostname ""] [uri "/"] [unique_id "YlHq6gKxO9SgyEd0xH9N5gADLgA"]
[Sat Apr 09 22:22:02.716969 2022] [:error] [pid 847584:tid 140613499016960] [client client-ip:49688] [client client-ip] ModSecurity: Warning. Pattern match "(?i)<script[^>]*>[\\\\s\\\\S]*?" at ARGS:search. [file "/usr/share/modsecurity-crs/rules/REQUEST-941-APPLICATION-ATTACK-XSS.conf"] [line "82"] [id "941110"] [msg "XSS Filter - Category 1: Script Tag Vector"] [data "Matched Data: <script> found within ARGS:search: <script>alert('CRS Sandbox Release')</script>"] [severity "CRITICAL"] [ver "OWASP_CRS/3.3.2"] [tag "application-multi"] [tag "language-multi"] [tag "platform-multi"] [tag "attack-xss"] [tag "paranoia-level/1"] [tag "OWASP_CRS"] [tag "capec/1000/152/242"] [hostname ""] [uri "/"] [unique_id "YlHq6gKxO9SgyEd0xH9N5gADLgA"]
[Sat Apr 09 22:22:02.717249 2022] [:error] [pid 847584:tid 140613499016960] [client client-ip:49688] [client client-ip] ModSecurity: Warning. Pattern match "(?i:(?:<\\\\w[\\\\s\\\\S]*[\\\\s\\\\/]|['\\"](?:[\\\\s\\\\S]*[\\\\s\\\\/])?)(?:on(?:d(?:e(?:vice(?:(?:orienta|mo)tion|proximity|found|light)|livery(?:success|error)|activate)|r(?:ag(?:e(?:n(?:ter|d)|xit)|(?:gestur|leav)e|start|drop|over)|op)|i(?:s(?:c(?:hargingtimechange ..." at ARGS:search. [file "/usr/share/modsecurity-crs/rules/REQUEST-941-APPLICATION-ATTACK-XSS.conf"] [line "199"] [id "941160"] [msg "NoScript XSS InjectionChecker: HTML Injection"] [data "Matched Data: <script found within ARGS:search: <script>alert('CRS Sandbox Release')</script>"] [severity "CRITICAL"] [ver "OWASP_CRS/3.3.2"] [tag "application-multi"] [tag "language-multi"] [tag "platform-multi"] [tag "attack-xss"] [tag "paranoia-level/1"] [tag "OWASP_CRS"] [tag "capec/1000/152/242"] [hostname ""] [uri "/"] [unique_id "YlHq6gKxO9SgyEd0xH9N5gADLgA"]
[Sat Apr 09 22:22:02.718018 2022] [:error] [pid 847584:tid 140613499016960] [client client-ip:49688] [client client-ip] ModSecurity: Access denied with code 403 (phase 2). Operator GE matched 5 at TX:anomaly_score. [file "/usr/share/modsecurity-crs/rules/REQUEST-949-BLOCKING-EVALUATION.conf"] [line "93"] [id "949110"] [msg "Inbound Anomaly Score Exceeded (Total Score: 15)"] [severity "CRITICAL"] [ver "OWASP_CRS/3.3.2"] [tag "application-multi"] [tag "language-multi"] [tag "platform-multi"] [tag "attack-generic"] [hostname ""] [uri "/"] [unique_id "YlHq6gKxO9SgyEd0xH9N5gADLgA"]
[Sat Apr 09 22:22:02.718596 2022] [:error] [pid 847584:tid 140613499016960] [client client-ip:49688] [client client-ip] ModSecurity: Warning. Operator GE matched 5 at TX:inbound_anomaly_score. [file "/usr/share/modsecurity-crs/rules/RESPONSE-980-CORRELATION.conf"] [line "91"] [id "980130"] [msg "Inbound Anomaly Score Exceeded (Total Inbound Score: 15 - SQLI=0,XSS=15,RFI=0,LFI=0,RCE=0,PHPI=0,HTTP=0,SESS=0): individual paranoia level scores: 15, 0, 0, 0"] [ver "OWASP_CRS/3.3.2"] [tag "event-correlation"] [hostname ""] [uri "/"] [unique_id "YlHq6gKxO9SgyEd0xH9N5gADLgA"]

In the first 3 lines we see that we hit different filters which check for XSS vulnerabilities, more specifically rules 941100, 941110 and 941160 all of them having the tag paranoia-level/1.

Then the fourth line shows that we hit rule 949110 which caused the web server to return the HTTP 403 Forbidden response because the inbound anomaly score, 15, is higher than 5. Then rule 980130 gives us some more information about the scoring: we hit a score of 15 at the paranoia level 1, while rules at the other paranoia levels rules contributed 0 to the total score. We also see the scores for individual types of attack: in this case all 15 points where scored by rules detecting XSS attacks. This is the meaning of the different abbreviations used:

SQLISQL injection
XSScross-site scripting
RFIremote file inclusion
LFIlocal file inclusion
RCEremote code execution
PHPIPHP injection
HTTPHTTP violation
SESSsession fixation

More detailed logs about the traffic hitting the rules can be found in the file /var/log/apache2/modsec_audit.log.

Fixing false positives

First of all, in order to minimize the amount of false positives, you should set the WEBAPPID variable if you are using one of the known web applications for which the Core Rule Set has a default exclusion set. These web applications are currently WordPress, Drupal, Dokuwiki, Nextcloud, Xenforo and cPanel. You can do so by using the <a href="">SecWebAppId</a> option in a VirtualHost of Location definition in the Apache configuration. For example if you have a VirtualHost which is used by Nextcloud, set this within the VirtualHost definition:

    <IfModule security2_module>
        SecWebAppId "nextcloud"

If you have a WordPress installation in a subdirectory, then add SecWebAppId within Location tags.

<Location /wordpress>
    <IfModule security2_module>
        SecWebAppId "wordpress-mysite"

If you have multiple WordPress sites, give each of them a unique WEBAPPID which name starts with wordpress. Add a different suffix for every instance so that each one run its in own application namespace in ModSecurity.

If you still encounter false positives, you can completely disable rules by using the configuration directive SecRuleRemoveById. I strongly recommend not disabling rules globally, but limiting its removal to the specific location from which you want them to be removed, for example by putting them with <Location> or <LocationMatch> tags in the Apache configuration. For example:

<LocationMatch ^/wp-admin/(admin-ajax|post)\.php>
    <IfModule security2_module>
        SecRuleRemoveById 941160 941100 941130 932105 932130 932100

Pay attention not to disable any of the 949*, 959*, and 980* rules: disabling the 949* and 959* rules would disable all the blocking rules, while disabling the 980* rules would give you less information about what is happening in the logs.


ModSecurity and the Core Rule Set offer an additional security layer for web servers in your defence in depth strategy. I strongly recommend implementing this on your servers because it makes it harder to abuse security vulnerabilities.

Keep an eye on the Core Rule Set blog and Twitter account: sometimes they post new rules for specific new critical vulnerabilities, which can be worthwhile to add to your configuration.

Fixing crackling/popping while playing music in Debian GNU/Linux

I was experiencing crackling/popping sounds while playing music with Rhythmbox in my Debian GNU/Linux Testing (Bookworm) system. The noises start when starting music playback and stop as soon as I stop the playback.

I came around this bug report for Pipewire but I’m currently still using PulseAudio 15 instead. However it contained a comment which led to the solution: speech-dispatcher is known for causing problems of crackling sounds.

Speech-dispatcher is used for speech synthesis often used by blind or visually impaired people. If you don’t use this functionality, you can either disable speech-dispatcher (speechd) or completely uninstall it:

Disable speech-dispatcher by editing /etc/speech-dispatcher/speechd.conf, removing the comment sign # before this line near the end of the file:


Then you will have to log out and log in your desktop or you can kill all speech-dispatcher processes manually.

If you want, you can remove speech-dispatcher completely by running this command:

# apt remove speech-dispatcher

Note that this will remove the gnome meta-package, which in itself is harmless, but might lead to new GNOME components not being installed automatically in the future.

This fixed the constant popping crackling noises while playing music completely for me.

Missing video thumbnails in Nautilus in Debian Bullseye

I am using Debian Bullseye and already for a long time I noticed that Nautilus failed to generate thumbnails for certain video files, leading to only a generic video icon instead of a thumbnail.

In the kernel log (dmesg), you will see this error:

qtdemux0:sink[70839]: segfault at 0 ip 0000000000000000 sp 00007f724fe61d18 error 14 in totem-video-thumbnailer[5638abe9b000+3000]
Code: Unable to access opcode bytes at RIP 0xffffffffffffffd6.

This is Debian bug #967941: gnome-video-thumbnailer crashes with a segmentation fault when thumbnailing H.264 encoded video files when you have the package libopenblas0-pthread installed.

Available Work-arounds

Remove libopenblas0-pthread

# apt-get remove libopenblas0-pthread

This might not be possible if you need this package for other reasons.

For performance reasons you might also want to install the BLIS BLAS implementation and set it as default. Install the packages libblis3-pthread and libblis64-3-pthread and set them default using the update-alternatives commands from the next work-around.

Switch the default BLAS implementation from OpenBlas to Atlas

If you cannot uninstall libopenblas0-pthread, you can change the default BLAS and LAPACK implementation on your system to a different implementation than OpenBLAS

# update-alternatives – config
# update-alternatives – config
# update-alternatives – config

Choose a different implementation than openblas in all 3 cases. Usually Atlas will be installed and available by default. You can also install the packages libblis3-pthread and libblis64-3-pthread and choose the BLIS implementation for the former two and Atlas for the latter.

Disable the sandbox in totem-video-thumbnailer

Totem-video-thumbnailer uses some kind of sandbox limiting how much CPU and memory resources the process can use. This enhances security and prevents the process from using all resources in case something would go wrong. OpenBLAS causes problems in combination with these restrictions. You can disable them in totem-video-thumbnailer by calling it with the -l option. To automatically let GNOME call it with that option, edit the file /usr/share/thumbnailers/totem.thumbnailer and edit the Exec= line so that it looks like this:

Exec=/usr/bin/totem-video-thumbnailer -l -s %s %u %o

If you can, rather use one of two previous work-arounds, because disabling this restrictions could have security implications.

Regenerating the failed thumbnails

Finally after implementing one of the 3 work-arounds, you will need to regenerate the failed thumbnails. GNOME Thumbnail Factory keeps a list of all failed thumbnails, so that it does not retry to generate them over and over again. They are stored in ~/.cache/thumbnails/fail/gnome-thumbnail-factory so you can just delete this directory:

rm -rf ~/.cache/thumbnails/fail/gnome-thumbnail-factory

Now when you browse a directory which contains video files with missing thumbnails with Nautilus, it should generate them automatically.

Using HTTP headers to protect your visitor’s security and privacy

Recently there has been a lot of controversy over Google starting to use Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) in its Chrome browser. This new technique is used to track users without using third party cookies, but has severe privacy implications because it actually makes fingerprinting users easier and can reveal your interests to websites.

To prevent tracking by FLoC and other tracking techniques, there is only one good solution: stop using Google Chrome. The best privacy friendly browser is Firefox, especially if you set it to strict enhanced tracking protection. If you really need to use Chrome, then at least install one of the open source extensions which disable FLoC and Privacy Badger for other tracking protection.

As a website owner, you can also do something to protect your users. You can opt out your website to be included in cohort computation by sending the header Permissions-Policy: interest-cohort=()

This can be easily done for all your websites by modifying your Apache configuration. While at it, you should set some other security and privacy related headers, notably:

  • X-Frame-Options "SAMEORIGIN": this makes sure that browsers will not allow your website to be included in an iframe on another domain.
  • X-Content-Type-Options "nosniff": This will prevent the browser from trying to automatically detect the file type of a downloaded file instead of using the MIME type sent by the server. This can mitigate attacks where a hacker manages to upload a malicious file by giving it a filename which makes it look like a harmless file type which is then served to your visitors.
  • Referrer-Policy "no-referrer-when-downgrade": when a visitor clicks on a link, the browser will only send the referrer when it’s not going from a HTTPS to a HTTP connection. This is fine if your URLs don’t contain any private information. If they do, then consider using strict-origin-when-cross-origin, so that only your domain name instead of the complete URL is sent as referrer if people click on a link leading to an external website, or even same-origin, which prevents any referrer being sent to external sites. You should probably do this for an internal website, web application or wiki, webmail, etc. More information about Referrer-Policy

To set these in Apache in Debian, create a file /etc/apache2/conf-available/security-headers.conf with these contents:

<IfModule mod_headers.c>
   Header always set X-Frame-Options "SAMEORIGIN"
   Header always set X-Content-Type-Options "nosniff"
   Header always set Referrer-Policy "no-referrer-when-downgrade"
   Header always set Permissions-Policy: interest-cohort=()

Then make sure the mod_headers module is loaded and this file is enabled by running these commands:

# a2enmod headers
# a2enconf security-headers
# systemctl reload apache2

Another important header to set in your SSL virtualhosts is the HSTS header: it ensures that the browser will automatically use HTTPS every time when connecting to the website in the future. Place this in your SSL enabled virtualhost:

<IfModule mod_headers.c>
   Header always set Strict-Transport-Security "max-age=63072000"

Then you should also add this to your non-SSL virtualhost to redirect all visitors using HTTP to HTTPS:

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
   RewriteEngine on
   RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !=on
   RewriteRule .* https://%{SERVER_NAME}%{REQUEST_URI} [R=301,L]

Of course make sure mod_rewrite is enabled if that’s not yet the case:

# a2enmod rewrite
# systemctl reload apache2

You can check your server configuration on There you can also find more information about the headers Cross-Origin-Embedder-Policy, Cross-Origin-Opener-Policy and Cross-Origin-Resource-Policy, some other security related headers. Because they require more changes to your website to implement correctly, I’m not discussing them here.

More information

LineageOS 18.1 (Android 11) on OnePlus 3/3T status

Table of contents

Now that LineageOS 18.1 is officially out, it’s time to take a look at how it runs on Oneplus 3/3T phones, just like I did for LineageOS 17.1 on Oneplus 3/3T. At this time I am not yet running LineageOS 18.1 myself so the information here is based on what I read in the LineageOS 18.1 on Oneplus 3/3T thread on XDA-developers forum. Because of this, information here can be incomplete and inaccurate. If you encounter any problems, search in the thread on XDA Developers and post a message there if necessary. This page will be updated as more additional information becomes known.

Questions, problems and solutions

Is it possible to upgrade from LineageOS 17 to 18.1?

Even though this is usually discouraged on XDA and people will often refuse to give you any support if you did not do a clean installation, it is actually possible. The procedure can lead to problems, so make sure you have proper back-ups and know how to use TWRP.

First make a complete back-up of your device using TWRP. I strongly recommend to back up everything, both the system partition files as the system image. While this is both the same, sometimes a restored system only boots successfully with one of them. Definitely also back up data and boot.

After a successful complete backup, connect your phone to your computer, and via the android notification that it’s charging via USB, select that you want to transfer files. Now open your device’s internal storage disk on your computer, and copy the complete backup in TWRP/BACKUPS/ to your computer. I recommend also making a complete back-up of all apps, with an app like OAndBackupX and then copying this back-up to your PC. While connected to your PC, also make a back-up of your photos in the DCIM directory, because these are not included in backups made with TWRP and OAndBackupX.

Download the following files, either using a browser in Android, either using your computer and in that case copy them to your phone’s internal storage.

Now go to TWRP and install Magisk Unnstaller zip. Then choose Wipe – Advanced wipe, and wipe system, boot, cache and dalvik (don’t wipe data or storage: you will loose all data on your phone if you do so). Then go to Install – Install image, and choose the twrp image. Choose recovery and let it flash TWRP. Then reboot your phone back into the new recovery. Then flash LineageOS 18.1 via Install, then wipe cache and dalvik cache, and reboot. If all goes fine, you can boot back in TWRP and flash Magisk.

If all this fails, restore the backups you made.

Which gapps should I use?

You can use MindTheGapps or OpenGapps for LineageOS 18.1. If you choose OpenGapps, use OpenGapps nano. Never use any of the more complete packages, they will cause problems. Install the missing Google applications afterwards from the Play Store.

I cannot find Netflix in the Google Play Store

When you go the Settings in the Play Store app, under Play Protect certification you will see that your device is not certified.

To solve this, flash the latest Magisk zip in TWRP. Then back in Android go to Settings – Apps & Notifications and there go to Play Store App-Info. Go to Storage and there clear the cache and the storage. Now restart your phone. If you go to the Play Store settings, you will see that the message that it is not certified is gone, and you will be able to install Netflix. After clearing the storage, verify that the Play Store settings are OK for you, because these will have been reset.

Android Gadget Hacks: Fix Play Store Uncertified Errors When You Forget to Flash Magisk

My bank app refuses to start because the phone is rooted

Flash Magisk in TWRP. Then Start Magisk Manager and tap on SafetyNet Check. It should return Success and a green check mark for both CtsProfile and basicIntegrity. Then in Magisk’s menu go to Settings and make sure Magisk Hide is enabled. Then in the menu go to Magisk Hide and enable it for your bank app and for Google Play Services. If it does not work yet, try to remove data and cache of your bank app and reboot. Then try to reconfigure your account.

Known bugs in LineageOS 18.1 on OnePlus 3/3T

The phone crashes from time to time

Some users are reporting stability problems: they experience random reboots in LineageOS because of a kernel panic, at a frequency of about once a week. Logs posted on XDA point to a kernel oops in ffs_data_clear, which is a function in the USB gadget code.

No way to disable a SIM card when using multiple SIMs–3t-cross-device-development/rom-lineageos-17-0-oneplus-3-3t-t3990061/post82770687#post82770687–3t-cross-device-development/rom-lineageos-17-0-oneplus-3-3t-t3990061/post82771459#post82771459

In LineageOS 16.0 it’s possible to disable one of the SIM cards if you have two SIMs installed. In LineageOS 17.1 and 18.1, the only way to disable a SIM is to physically remove the card from the slot.

This problem is not OnePlus 3/3T specific: it is like this in all LineageOS builds for all devices, and is a deliberate choice by the developers, because it was too hard to implement this for Qualcomm devices (“it’s not a bug, it’s a feature”).

Using Fangfrisch to improve ClamAV malware detection in e-mail

If you have an e-mail server, maybe you already are using the open source tools Amavis and ClamAV to detect malicious e-mails. ClamAV’s default virus signatures however, while being useful, still only detect a limited set of malware. Fortunately there exist third-party unofficial signatures which you can use to drastically improve the detection rate so that it becomes similar to the detection rate of commercial anti-virus software. These third-party signatures are a must-have on any mail server using ClamAV.

ClamAV can also be very useful to scan the webroot directories on web servers in order to detect malicious PHP scripts which may be installed on your server after an intrusion in a web application. Several of the third-part ClamAV definitions proposed here, specialize in this kind of malware.

Fangfrisch is a utility which automates downloading third-party ClamAV virus definitions. It has several free repositories containing ClamAV signatures configured by default, but you can also easily add other ones.

Third-party ClamAV virus definitions


SaneSecurity is a set of signatures focusing on so-called 0-day and 0-hour malware, which means that it includes hashes of new malicious files being sent by e-mail. Furthermore it contains signatures for malicious URLs, common spam and phishing messages and generic signatures which detect some commonly types of techniques used in malware, such as exe files with a double extenstion (for example pdf.exe), exe files hidden in ISO files and often abused functions in MS Office macros. Sanesecurity also distributes signatures from other sources, such as phishing URLs from A complete list of available signature databases can be found on their website.

SaneSecurity signatures are free to use, however a donation is appreciated.


The French company SecuriteInfo claims that their ClamAV definitions add 4.000.000 signatures for malware and spam not detected by the official ClamAV signatures. There is a free feed of the signatures available, however it only contains signatures older than 30 days. For up-to-date 0-day malware detection, you will need one of the paid plans.

In the MalwareBazaar database you can see that SecuriteInfo is often the only ClamAV definitions database which detects malicious Windows binaries.


MalwarePatrol is a commercial threat intelligence company which offers free and paid feeds, including ClamAV virus signatures which contain URL’s pointing to malware files on the world wide web. The free feed is only updated every 72 hours, while the paid feed is updated every 4 hours. If you need an invoice or want to use the feeds for protecting customers of your company, you will have to use the commercial feeds.

Quickly after integrating the free feed in my Amavis installation, I noticed it was wrongly blocking legitimate mails with links to, which is used a lot in academic environments. So be careful when you integrate this feed. For this reason you should not automatically block all messages marked by Malwarepatrol. With Amavis you can give them them a positive spam score. In combination with the score from the Bayes spam filter, legitimate mails will not be blocked.


MalwareExpert offers a commercial, paid feed of signatures which detect malicious PHP files, meant for scanning your web servers.


URLHaus is a project from collecting URLs of sites distributing malware. They offer a ClamAV signature database of all these malicious URLs so that you can block all e-mail containing links to sites distributing malware. This database can be used for free, both for commercial and non-commercial purposes.


Clam-punch is described as a “highly curated set of signatures for ClamAV”. It seems to focus mainly on malicious macros in MS Office documents. They do not seem to be updated regularly any more, however as the signatures appear to be rather generic, they can probably still be useful.

TwinWave Security Twinclams

Twinclams is a Github repository by TwinWave Security and contains signatures for malicious MS Office documents. The author of twinclams appears to be a contributor of Clam-punch. This ClamAV virus database is getting updated daily and appears to be highly effective in detecting newly found Office documents with malicious macros. Recent malicious Office document in the MalwareBazaar database are almost always detected by the Twinclams definitions, sometimes even detecting files which are not detected yet by commercial anti-virus software.

R-FX Networks Linux Malware Detect

Part of its Linux Malware Detect (LMD) tool, R-FX Networks offers a set of ClamAV signatures specializing in detecting Linux specific malware, including malicious PHP scripts, trojan horses such as malicious IRC bots, worms, etc.


Another set of ClamAV signatures focused on malicious PHP scripts is maintained by the hosting provider InterServer. I highly recommend this feed if you want to scan your web servers.


The ClamAV signatures by security reseacher ditekshen add detection for various Windows, MacOS and Linux trojan horses en ransomware.

Installing Fangfrisch

Unfortunately Debian does not have a package for Fangfrisch, so you need to install it manually. In contrast to the documentation, I prefer to install fangfrisch in /opt though, using /var/lib/fangfrisch only for the database, and saving the signatures in /var/lib/fangfrisch/signatures, so that we can check them later on before letting ClamAV use them.

# mkdir -m 0770 -p /var/lib/fangfrisch/signatures
# chgrp -R clamav /var/lib/fangfrisch
# mkdir /opt/fangfrisch 
# cd /opt/fangfrisch
# apt-get install python3-venv python3-pip
# python3 -m venv venv
# source venv/bin/activate
# pip3 install fangfrisch

Configuring Fangfrisch

Create the file /etc/fangfrisch/fangfrisch.conf with these contents:

db_url = sqlite:////var/lib/fangfrisch/db.sqlite

# The following settings are optional. Other sections inherit
# values from DEFAULT and may also overwrite values.

local_directory = /var/lib/fangfrisch/signatures
max_size = 5MB
on_update_exec = /usr/local/bin/setup-clamav-sigs
on_update_timeout = 42
log_level = info

enabled = no
# Replace with your personal Malwarepatrol receipt
# receipt = XXXXXXXXX
# change product id if necessary.
# 32 = free guard, 33 = Basic Defense yearly, 34 = Basic Defense monthly, 37 = Basic Defense EDU/Contributor
# product = 32

# This is untested
enabled = no
max_size = 20M
prefix =
interval = 1d
# serial_key = xxxxxxx
url_malware.expert_fp = ${prefix}/${serial_key}/
url_malware.expert_hdb = ${prefix}/${serial_key}/
url_malware.expert_ldb = ${prefix}/${serial_key}/ = ${prefix}/${serial_key}/

prefix =
max_size = 10M
enabled = yes
interval = 1h
url_malwareexpert_fp = disabled
url_malwareexpert_hdb = disabled
url_malwareexpert_ldb = disabled
url_malwareexpert_ndb = disabled

enabled = no
# uncomment the next line if you want to use the securiteinfoold.hdb database with old signatures
# max_size = 500MB
# Replace with your personal SecuriteInfo customer ID
# customer_id = abcdef123456
# Remove the exclamation mark before the next databases if you have the Professional subscription
!url_0hour = ${prefix}securiteinfo0hour.hdb
!url_securiteinfo_mdb = ${prefix}securiteinfo.mdb
# The next databases are disabled by default in fangfrisch because they are prone to false positives, but we reduce most of them to a spam score in Amavis
url_old = ${prefix}securiteinfoold.hdb
url_spam_marketing = ${prefix}spam_marketing.ndb

enabled = yes
max_size = 2MB

enabled = yes
max_size = 2M
integrity_check = disabled
interval = 1h
prefix =
url_twinclams = ${prefix}twinclams.ldb
url_twinwave_ign2 = ${prefix}twinwave.ign2

enabled = yes
max_size = 2M
integrity_check = disabled
interval = 24h
prefix =
url_miscreantpunch099low = ${prefix}MiscreantPunch099-Low.ldb
url_exexor99 = ${prefix}exexor99.ldb
url_miscreantpuchhdb = ${prefix}miscreantpunch.hdb

enabled = yes
interval= 4h
integrity_check = disabled
prefix =
url_rfxn_ndb = ${prefix}rfxn.ndb
url_rfxn_hdb = ${prefix}rfxn.hdb
url_rfxn_yara = ${prefix}rfxn.yara

enabled = yes
interval = 1d
integrity_check = disabled
prefix =
url_interserver_sha256 = ${prefix}interserver256.hdb
url_interserver_topline = ${prefix}interservertopline.db
url_interserver_shell = ${prefix}shell.ldb
url_interserver_whitelist = ${prefix}whitelist.fp

enabled = yes
interval = 1d
integrity_check = disabled
prefix =
url_ditekshen_ldb = ${prefix}clamav.ldb
filename_ditekshen_ldb = ditekshen.ldb

Don’t forget to customize the entries if you have any paid subscription. Set some safe file permissions on this file, especially if it contains tokens of commercial subscriptions:

# chown root:clamav /etc/fangfrisch/fangfrisch.conf
# chmod 640 /etc/fangfrisch/fangfrisch.conf

Checking the new signatures before letting ClamAV use them

In the configuration file above, I call the script setup-clamav-sigs whenever signatures were updated. This script will check whether the downloaded files are really different than the signatures in /var/lib/clamav, and if they are, check them to ensure they don’t contain errors preventing ClamAV to load them. If ClamAV can successfully load them, it will copy them to /var/lib/clamav and restart clamdscan if it’s loaded. Download the script from the GitLab repository, place it in /usr/local/bin and make sure it’s executable.

Initalizing Fangfrisch

When you have set up Fangfrisch, you have to initialize it by executing

sudo -u clamav – /opt/fangfrisch/venv/bin/fangfrisch – conf /etc/fangfrisch.conf initdb

Configuring Clamav

SecuriteInfo recommends setting these settings in /etc/clamav/clamd.conf in order to get the best detection while still avoiding too many false positives:

DetectPUA yes
ExcludePUA PUA.Win.Packer
ExcludePUA PUA.Win.Trojan.Packed
ExcludePUA PUA.Win.Trojan.Molebox
ExcludePUA PUA.Win.Packer.Upx
ExcludePUA PUA.Doc.Packed

Configuring Amavis

I assume you already have a working Amavis instance. Sanesecurity gives some recommendations for Amavis for the best results. Add this to the configuration, for example In Debian you can create the file /etc/amavis/conf.d/50-clamav:

@keep_decoded_original_maps = (new_RE(
  qr'^MAIL$',   # retain full original message for virus checking (can be slow)
  qr'^MAIL-UNDECIPHERABLE$', # recheck full mail if it contains undecipherables
  qr'^(ASCII(?! cpio)|text|uuencoded|xxencoded|binhex)'i,
# qr'^Zip archive data',     # don't trust Archive::Zip

@virus_name_to_spam_score_maps =
   (new_RE(  # the order matters!
     [ qr'^TwinWave\.'                                      => undef ],# keep as infected
     [ qr'^MiscreantPunch\.'                                => undef ],# keep as infected
     [ qr'^Structured\.(SSN|CreditCardNumber)\b'            => 2.0 ],
     [ qr'^(Heuristics\.)?Phishing\.'                       => 2.0 ],
     [ qr'^(Email|HTML)\.Phishing\.(?!.*Sanesecurity)'      => 10.0 ],
     [ qr'^Sanesecurity\.(Malware|Badmacro|Foxhole|Rogue|Trojan)\.' => undef ],# keep as infected
     [ qr'^Sanesecurity\.Phishing\.'                        => 6.0 ],
     [ qr'^Sanesecurity\.Blurl\.'                           => 4.0 ],
     [ qr'^Sanesecurity\.Jurlbl\.'                          => 2.0 ],
     [ qr'^Sanesecurity\.Spam\.'                            => 2.0 ],
     [ qr'^Sanesecurity\.SpamL\.'                           => 2.0 ],
     [ qr'^Sanesecurity\.Junk\.'                            => 4.0 ],
     [ qr'^Sanesecurity\.Scam4\.'                           => 2.0 ],
     [ qr'^Sanesecurity\.'                                  => 0.1 ],
     [ qr'^Sanesecurity.TestSig_'                           => 0   ],
     [ qr'^Email\.Spam\.Bounce(\.[^., ]*)*\.Sanesecurity\.' => 0   ],
     [ qr'^BofhlandMW\.'                                    => undef ],# keep as infected
     [ qr'^Bofhland\.Malware\.'                             => undef ],# keep as infected
     [ qr'^Bofhland\.'                                      => 2.0 ],
     [ qr'^winnow.malware\.'                                => undef ],# keep as infected
     [ qr'^winnow\_'                                        => 2.0 ],
     [ qr'^PhishTank\.Phishing\.'                           => 6.0 ],
     [ qr'^Porcupine\.Malware\.'                            => undef ],# keep as infected
     [ qr'^Porcupine\.'                                     => 2.0 ],
     [ qr'^Email\.Spammail\b'                               => 2.0 ],
     [ qr'^Safebrowsing\.'                                  => 2.0 ],
     [ qr'^winnow\.(phish|spam)\.'                          => 2.0 ],
     [ qr'^\.Phish'                         => 6.0 ],
     [ qr'^\.Spam'                          => 2.0 ],
     [ qr'^MBL_'                                            => 4.0 ],

These settings ensure that not only the different parts and attachments will be separately scanned by ClamAV, but also the mail as a whole. Then we will reduce some ClamAV virus detections from infected to a spam score in Spamassassin. I do this on rules which could be more likely causing false positives. You can adapt the score to your own situation.

Automatically running Fangfrisch using a systemd timer

Create the file /etc/systemd/system/fangfrisch.service:

Description=Download unofficial clamav virus definition files

ExecStart=/opt/fangfrisch/venv/bin/fangfrisch – conf /etc/fangfrisch/fangfrisch.conf refresh


Then create the file /etc/systemd/system/fangfrisch.timer:

Description=Download unofficial clamav virus definition files



Run this command to activate the timer:

# systemctl enable – now fangfrisch.timer

Ignoring virus definitions

It is possible that you hit false positives with certain definitions. If you want to completely disable a specific virus definition, you can add its name to a text file with the ign2 extension in /var/lib/clamav/. For example for me the Sanesecurity.Badmacro.Doc.hypers caused a false positive for me, so I created the file /var/lib/clamav/local_whitelist.ign2 with content:


To reload the database after changing the database, run

# sudo -u clamav clamdscan – reload


With free third-party databases (Sanesecurity, URLHaus, Clam-punch, Twinclams, R-FX MLD, Interserver and ditekShen) it is possible to drastically improve the detection rate of ClamAV so that it becomes an excellent virus scanner for e-mail and web servers at least if you use it In combination with Amavis’ configuration to block malicious file types (such as exe, com, vbs, dll, pif, etc.) and a well configured and trained Spamassassin. If you want the best protection, add a subscription to the SecuriteInfo feeds.

Setting up Linux on a desktop or laptop system, part 1: choosing a Linux distribution and a desktop environment

Which Linux distribution?

The most widely used distribution is Ubuntu. Other popular desktop distributions are Linux Mint, Fedora, OpenSUSE Tumbleweed and Manjaro. Personally I prefer to use Debian, not only on servers but also on desktop systems, but this distribution does require more manual work to set up on a desktop system, so it is not the easiest choice if you are new to Linux. In that case I would recommend some of the Ubuntu variants or Linux Mint.

Choose a recent version of your Linux distribution of choice. If you use Ubuntu, install the latest LTS version (20.04 Focal Fossa at the time of writing) and if you encounter problems related to hardware support, consider using the latest non-LTS version (20.10 Groovy Gorilla will be available end of October 2020. You can download daily builds if you want to test this version in development). I recommend Debian users to install the testing version on recent hardware.

Which desktop environment?

You will have to choose which desktop environment you want to use on your Linux system. Depending on your distribution, you make this choice before downloading the ISO, or during the installation.

The most widely used desktop environments are GNOME, KDE Plasma, Cinnamon and XFCE. The first three desktop environments get updates and improvements more often than XFCE and are more complete: for this reason I would recommend one of these. XFCE on the other hand is interesting as a lightweight desktop for older hardware.

KDE is very customizable, but the many configuration options can be overwhelming at times. GNOME is less customizable and tries to deliver a user-friendly modern desktop out of the box. If you want a simple clean desktop with a more traditional, Windows- or macOS-like desktop, then you can consider Cinnamon.

In the next table you will find links to the different editions of popular distributions. Some distributions have a default or preferred desktop, one in which they invest most work. I have set these in bold.

UbuntuUbuntu DesktopKubuntuUbuntu Cinnamon RemixXubuntu
Linux Mintno installer availableno installer availableLinux Mint CinnamonLinux Mint XFCE
FedoraFedora WorkstationFedora KDE PlasmaFedora CinnamonFedora XFCE
OpenSUSE TumbleweedYou choose your desktop during the installation: OpenSUSE Tumbleweed installation ISOs. Cinnamon can only be added after the installation.
ManjaroManjaro GNOMEManjaro KDE PlasmaManjaro CinnamonManjaro XFCE
DebianYou choose your desktop during the installation: Debian Testing installer

If you like KDE Plasma, you can also consider installing the KDE Neon distribution. It is an Ubuntu LTS with the latest KDE packages installed. This way it provides a more up to date and more standard KDE experience than Kubuntu. However it misses a lot of standard non-KDE application, which you will have to install yourself afterwards.

If you want to get a feeling of these distributions and desktops, you can test them out in a web browser on the website All in all, I would recommend not spending too much time on choosing your distribution and desktop. Pick one of the beginner-friendly distributions and try it. If you really don’t like it, it is easy enough to install another distribution.

The truth about decentralized contact tracing apps like Immuni

Lees dit artikel in het Nederlands: De waarheid over gedecentraliseerde contact tracing apps zoals Coronalert

Too long to read? Skip to the conclusion.

Table of contents

Those that know me a bit, know that I think that privacy is very important. For this reason when they started talking about contact tracing apps for COVID-19 a few months ago, I thought this was an extremely bad idea. Having an app constantly tracking where you are and who you meet, is only something which you think is possible in undemocratic nations and dictatorial regimes. Something you expect in North Korea, China but not in European countries, where our privacy is supposed to be protected by the GDPR. And then what about the reliability of these apps? Bluetooth was never made for this. It would result in many false positives and negatives. No way I would ever install such an app.

That was at least my opinion a couple of months ago. Now my opinion about this matter has completely changed. Reading about decentralized solutions based on the Google and Apple Exposure Notification (GAEN) API and DP-3T, has completely changed my mind. I use the Italian contact tracing app Immuni and I am willing to use a similar decentralized app from any country where I am staying.


Decentralized Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing or DP-3T is an open protocol developed by different universities amongst others ETH and EPFL from Switzerland, KU Leuven from Belgium, Tu Delft from the Netherlands.

This comic shows a simple explanation of how it works.

Comic describing the DP-3T protocol

Technically speaking, every day a new random seed (based on the seed of the day before) is created on every user’s phone, and this daily seed is saved on the phone for 14 days. From this seed are derived ephemeral identifiers (EphIDs). These EphIDs change several times an hour.

EphIDs are exchanged with other users of the tracking app by Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and every phone saves the EphIDs he received locally on the phone, together with the date and the attenuation of the signal, which can be used to estimate the distance.

When a user is tested positive for COVID-19, this user can, with the help of authorized health personal, upload the seed of the first day he was contagious, to a central server. All previous daily seeds are deleted from the infected user’s phone, and a completely new random daily seed is created, so that he does not become trackable in the future.

All other app users regularly download a list of all daily seeds of all contagious users from the central server and they can derive all EphIDs from them. The app compares all these EphIDs with the list of stored EphIDs which they met recently. Based on the amount of matching EphIDs the app can calculate how long the two have seen each other and based on the stored attenuation it can estimate the distance. If they were longer than a certain time within a certain distance, a warning will be given to the user that they were exposed to a contagious user, with instructions on what to do.

More details can be found in the DP-3T white paper.

Apple/Google Exposure Notifications API

The Google/Apple Exposure Notifications API (sometimes abbreviated as GAEN) is an API created from a joint effort by Google and Apple and enables the creation of decentralized contact tracing apps. This API, which is based on the principles of the DP-3T protocol described above, can only be used by apps approved by Google and Apple (only one per country, and created by official healthcare instances). Only decentralized contact tracing apps which do not collect any location information can get approved.

Apple by default does not allow background apps to use Bluetooth, except for approved contact tracing apps using this API. This means that on Apple iPhone, this API is the only way to create a reliable contact tracing app. Apps which don’t use this API, such as the StopCovid France app, have to apply work-arounds to keep the app waking up in the background, making them potentially less reliable and draining the battery more.

The DP-3T framework has since been modified to make use of the Exposure Notifications API.

Some of the apps currently available using the Google/Apple Exposure Notifications API are SwissCovid (Switzerland), Immuni (Italy), Corona-Warn-App (Germany).

The source code of the implementation of the framework for Android and iOS of the API were published the second half of July 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions – Debunking some myths

These apps appear to be the subject of deliberate fake news campaigns or at least emotional reactions resulting from a lack of understanding of how they work. Here I will try to address some questions.

Will these apps violate my privacy? Will the authorities know who I meet and where I am, what I do?

The applications based on the Google Apple Exposure Notification API do not know any personal information about the users: they don’t know your name, your phone number, where you live, or any other personal data. They also do not collect location data, so they don’t know where you are.

The only thing these apps do, is exchanging anonymous codes with other people in your neighbourhood. These codes change multiple times a day, making it impossible to keep tracking you.

The exchanged codes are only stored on your own phone and not in a central database. So there is no way for the authorities to know how many people and who you met.

Contact tracing apps usually apply even more extensive kinds of measures to protect security and privacy: for example dummy uploads are done in order to prevent network traffic analysis revealing a positive test, CA or certificate pinning to prevent MITM attacks, etc…

This is not a mass surveillance tool or Big Brother, as some try to let you believe.

How can I be sure that the app really works as promised and really does not collect and send private information?

These apps are usually open source, which means you can check the code to see how they work and what they do exactly. Even if you personally don’t have the knowledge to check the code, rest assured that there are enough experts taking a look at this, and will shout loudly when something is wrong. It has to be said: the only ones shouting loudly about these apps are politicians and activists who clearly have never looked at the source code, nor at the documentation. For example code reviews of Coronalert and Immuni have found these apps do live up to their privacy claims.

Here are some links to the source code of the different apps and their documentation:

On the issue tracker of these apps you can report problems and ask questions.

Also the source code of the Exposure Notifications framework, used by these apps, is available:

Why should I trust Google and Apple, who have a bad track record in privacy?

Actually Google and Apple don’t even need this API to track you. If you are running a phone running iOS or Android with Google Play Services, you actually already have much larger privacy problems than these decentralized, open source contact tracing apps. The same if you are using any of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, NetFlix, Spotify, FaceApp, Tinder. These do know your name, your location, your interests, your friends, and this without this API. Decentralized contact tracing apps, do know much less than any of these apps. This picture compares the different permissions SwissCovid, Facebook and Whatsapp can request.

That being said, there is now a way to run these contact tracing apps without using any Google services on your phone. The microg project now includes its own completely open source implementation of the Exposure Notification API. It can be installed on an Android distribution like LineageOS. It is confirmed that SwissCovid and Immuni work with microg’s implementatoin of the API, probably other apps do too. This way you can run these applications without having to rely on any of Google’s or Apple’s proprietary binaries.

Why does this app require Location setting to be enabled on my Android phone if no location information is collected?

To scan for nearby Bluetooth devices on Android the Location setting needs to be switched on because Bluetooth scanning can in theory be used to determine your location. For example this is used by navigation apps to determine your location in underground tunnels. In reality, apps making use of the GAEN API are not allowed to request your location. It can be verified in the source code of the app that at no time it determines your location. In Settings > Location > App permission you can still disable location access to apps. In Android 11, which came out in September 2020, it is noe required any more to have Location enabled on your device in order to use contact tracing apps based on the Exposure Notification API.

Will this app give me a warning every time an infected person passes nearby, resulting in many false positives?

The apps will only give warnings when certain conditions, usually defined by the government based on epidemiological data, are satisfied. For example, the Italian Immuni app will give a warning when someone is standing within a distance for 2 metres for at least 15 minutes. The SwissCovid app requires a 15 minute contact within 1,5 metre distance. Coronalert will show you also low-risk exposures in the app, however only in case of a high-risk exposure (at least 15 minutes within 1,5 – 2 m of distance) will result in a red screen and an explicit exposure notification. Only in this case a test and quarantine is recommended.

The distance is estimated from the attenuation of the signal. Unfortunately, attenuation will depend on lots of parameters, such as the the phone model being used and the direction in which it is hold, etc. Google adds a per device correction value to the attenuation so that values should be similar between different devices. The thresholds being used are based on experiments in different environments and can be modified in the future in order to lower false positives and negatives. Immuni for example uses an attenuation threshold of 73 dBm.

So no, contact tracing apps are not going to give you a warning when anyone who shortly passed nearby, is tested positive. Only when reasonable thresholds are exceeded, you will get a warning. Nevertheless, false positive and false negatives are possible. Authorities also realize this, and view the tracing app as a support tool for tracing, but not as a complete replacement for manual contact tracing. A contact tracing app also does not replace a diagnostic test.

Are these apps useful if not everyone or at least a large part of the population downloads them?

Contact tracing apps are certainly useful, even if only a part of the population uses them.

A highly quoted article from Oxford University states that if 60% of the population installs the contact tracing app, this can completely stop the epidemic. However what is often not quoted is the next part of the phrase: “even with lower numbers of app users, we still estimate a reduction in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths.” They estimate that that one infection will be averted for every one to two users.

So even much lower numbers than 60% are useful to help flattening or crushing the curve, saving lives.

Will this drain the battery of my phone?

By using Bluetooth Low Energy, battery consumption should be limited. Bluetooth Low Energy was created specifically for low energy consumption and is also being used to connect to smartwatches and wireless headphones. Battery consumption should be less than 5% in the worst case, if you otherwise did have Bluetooth completely disabled.

Do I need to install another app when I go abroad?

With support of the European Union, a gateway service has been built that allows the exchange of keys of infected persons between European countries. The 19th of October 2020 the Italian (Immuni), German (Corona-Warn-App) and the Irish app (StopCOVID Tracker) started using this. It is planned that other decentralized contact tracing apps of the European Union will connect to this this gateway too, for example the Belgian Coronalert will add support in November.

However note that keys can never be exchanged with the StopCovid France app because this one uses a centralized system instead of the decentralized DP-3T.

What do experts say about these apps?

First it’s important to repeat that DP-3T, and hence the Google/Apple Exposure Notifications framework based on it, were designed by academics from universities in different countries. Prof. Bart Preneel (KU Leuven), cryptographer, who contributed to the DP-3T framework, says that “for once, Google and Apple are on the right side of privacy“.

The British Information Commissioner’s Office (the national data protection authority) “believes the CTF (Google/Apple’s contact tracing framework) is aligned with the principles of data protection by design and by default, including design principles around data minimisation and security.”

In a report from prof. Douglas Leith (Trinity College Dublin), analysis of network traffic of contact tracing apps was done. He concludes: “We find that the health authority client apps are generally well behaved from a privacy point of view, although the privacy of the Irish, the Polish and Latvian apps could be improved.” They criticize the closed source nature of the Google/Apple Exposure Notifications framework though and the fact that Google Play Services sends private data to Google (something which happens on any Android phone having Google Play Services installed, irrespective of the presence and usage of this framework). Update 23 July 2020: the source code of the framework itself is now available.

The biggest criticism of the framework appears to come from prof. Serge Vaudenay, cryptographer of EPFL. He complains about the closed source nature of the GAEN, and the fact that some attacks are possible. There is an answer by the DP3T team to one of his papers. Update 23 July 2020: the source code of the GAEN framework itself is now available.


Forget all conspiracy theories and emotional objections by privacy activists who never looked at how these apps work: open source decentralized contact tracing apps making use of the Google/Apple Exposure Notification API are not Big Brother, no mass surveillance instrument. The protocol has been developed by academics specialized in security and privacy in IT and the source code of the apps can be verified by anyone. Extensive documentation describes the working of the apps and what is being done to protect the privacy of the users. By using anonymous ephemeral IDs and not collecting any location information, these contact tracing apps know less from you than the average social network app or your phone’s OS itself, so if you are worried about privacy, you have more important things to look at.

Contact tracing apps can be very useful in combating this epidemic, also if only a small part of the population is using them. For me it’s simply a matter of responsibility installing these apps: to protect others, to protect our society and economy and in the end to get protected myself by others using the app.

Further information

History of this article

Update 23 July 2020: Added links to the source of Google and Apple Exposure Notifications framework – Added info about Belgian contact tracing app in development – Added link to picture comparing permissions requested by SwissCovid, Facebook and Whatsapp

Update 6 September 2020: Added question about Location requirement on Android phones

Update 19 September 2020: Added link to source code of Belgian Coronalert app – Added info about an Expsore Notifications API implementation in microg, enabling you to run these apps without Google services

Update 4 October: add information about EU gateway service

Update 19 October: EU federation gateway service in use by 3 apps