Setting up Wireguard VPN with IPv6

I wanted to set up Wireguard on a VPS, not only to tunnel IPv4 traffic, but also allowing me to tunnel IPv6 traffic. As this is IPv6 of course I preferred not to use NAT, but to assign a public IP address to the client. I read some documentation and blog posts, but I struggled getting it to work. Most tutorials I found on the Internet, create a separate IPv6 subnet for the VPN but I could not get this to work. For some reason, IPv6 traffic successfully went through the VPN tunnel and then exited the VPN gateway, but then any response never reached my VPN gateway and hence also not the client.

I decided to try another way: using an NDP proxy. NDP or the Neighbour Discovery Protocol, is similar to ARP which is used in IPv4. Using this protocol, network devices can discover where on the network a certain IP is located. By letting the VPN gateway answer NDP requests for the VPN client, the gateway would correctly send back all responses to the VPN gateway, which then forwards it to the VPN clients.

Configuring the network on the VPN gateway

I use systemd-networkd to set up the network. It’s the most modern way of network configuration and works the same on all distributions using systemd, but of course you can make the same settings in /etc/network/interfaces or whatever your distribution uses. Of course when making changes to a remote server, make sure you can access a console without needing a working network connection on the server, in case things go wrong and the network connection breaks.

On my VPN server, the public network interface is named ens192 (use the command $ ip addr to find it on your system). My public IPv4 address is with subnet and gateway ww.xx.yy.1. I have the 64 bit IPV6 prefix aaaa:bbbb:cccc:dddd and the IPv6 gateway is fe80::1.

I set this in /etc/systemd/network/



In this example I’m using the Cloudflare malware blocking DNS filters, but you can of course just use your ISP’s DNS servers here.

Setting up Wireguard

Run these commands on the Wireguard VPN gateway, and on all clients:

# apt install wireguard-tools
# cd /etc/wireguard
# umask 077
# wg genkey | tee privatekey | wg pubkey > publickey

Then create /etc/wireguard/wg0.conf on the VPN gateway with these contents:

Address =,fd42:42:42::1/64
PrivateKey = contents_of_file_privatekey
ListenPort = 51820

PublicKey = contents_of_publickey_of_client
AllowedIPs =,aaaa:bbbb:cccc:dddd:ffff::2/128

Add a [Peer] section for every client, and change the both the IPv4 and IPv6 address in AllowedIPs so that they are unique (replace 2 by 3 and so on) .

On the clients, create /etc/wireguard/wg0.conf with these contents:

Address =,2a00:6d40:40:45ef:ffff::2/128
PrivateKey = contents_of_privatekey_of_client
DNS = 2606:4700:4700::1112, 2606:4700:4700::1002,,

PublicKey = contents_of_publickey_of_vpn_gateway
Endpoint =
AllowedIPs =, ::/0

In the [Interface] section make sure to use the same IP addresses as the ones you have set in the corresponding [Peer] section on the VPN gateway. Set the DNS name (or IP address) of the VPN gateway as Endpoint in the [Peer] section. The hostname’s DNS entry can have both an A and AAAA record. You can replace your DNS servers by your preferred ones. You can also consider running your own DNS server on the VPN gateway.

Make sure that all wg*.conf files on client and server are only readable by root, because they contain private keys.

Configuring the firewall (Shorewall)

I use the Shoreline firewall, Shorewall, as firewall.

Make sure you have shorewall and shorewall6 installed:

# apt install shorewall shorewall6


First we create a separate zone for our VPN in /etc/shorewall6/zones:

fw firewall
net ipv6
vpn ipv6

Then we configure the network interfaces and assign it to the right zone in /etc/shorewall6/interfaces:

net     NET_IF          tcpflags,routeback,proxyndp,physical=ens192
vpn     wg0		tcpflags,routeback,optional

Then we allow connections from the VPN to the firewall and to the Internet in /etc/shorewall6/policy:

vpn     net		ACCEPT
vpn     $FW		ACCEPT
net	all		DROP		$LOG_LEVEL

Keep in mind that your VPN client will have a public IPv6 address, which is accessible from the Internet. The rule net all DROP protects your VPN clients against access from the Internet.

Then we create some rules which allows access to the SSH server and the Wireguard VPN server from the Internet in /etc/shorewall6/rules:

Invalid(DROP)      net    	$FW		tcp
Ping(DROP)	   net		$FW
ACCEPT		   $FW		net		ipv6-icmp
AllowICMPs(ACCEPT) all		all
ACCEPT		   all		all		ipv6-icmp	echo-request

SSH(ACCEPT)	   net		$FW
ACCEPT		   net		$FW		udp	51820 # Wireguard

We allow some required ICMPv6 message types defined in /usr/share/shorewall/action.AllowICMPs, as well as the echo-request type, which should not be dropped on IPv6.

For security reasons you could even choose to not open the SSH port for the net zone. SSH will only be accessible via the VPN then.

Then in order to make sure that the gateway knows that the VPN client aaa:bbb:cccc:dddd::2 is reachable via the VPN gateway, we need to set up NDP proxying. The Neighbor Discovery Protocol is similar to ARP in IPv6. We set this in /etc/shorewall6/proxyndp:

aaa:bbb:cccc:dddd::2 wg0 ens192

Finally we need to enable IP forwarding in /etc/shorewall6/shorewall6.conf:


Then we check whether everything compiles fine and enable and start the service:

# shorewall6 compile
# systemctl restart shorewall6
# systemctl enable shorewall6


For IPv4 we configure Shorewall to use NAT to provide Internet access to the VPN clients.


fw	firewall
net	ipv4
vpn	ipv4


net     NET_IF          dhcp,tcpflags,logmartians,nosmurfs,sourceroute=0,routefilter,routeback,physical=ens192
vpn	wg0		tcpflags,logmartians,nosmurfs,sourceroute=0,optional,routefilter,routeback


vpn	net	ACCEPT
net	all	DROP		$LOG_LEVEL


# Drop packets in the INVALID state

Invalid(DROP)  net    	        $FW		tcp

# Drop Ping from the "bad" net zone.. and prevent your log from being flooded..

Ping(DROP)	net		$FW

ACCEPT		net		$FW		udp	51820





Compile and load the rules and enable Shorewall permanently:

# shorewall compile
# systemctl restart shorewall
# systemctl enable shorewall

Enabling and testing the VPN

On the server run this to enable the Wireguard server:

# systemctl enable – now wg-quick@wg0

To connect to the VPN, run this on the client:

# systemctl start wg-quick@wg0

Check if you can browse the world wide web. Use these websites to check your IP address and whether you have a working IPv6 connection:

You can also use traceroute and traceroute6 to test whether traffic is correctly going through the VPN tunnel:

# traceroute
# traceroute6

Debugging Wireguard

If things don’t work as expected, you can enable debug logging in the Wireguard module with this command:

# echo module wireguard +p > /sys/kernel/debug/dynamic_debug/control

Replace +p by -p in order to disable debug logging. You can find the logs in your kernel messages, for example by running

# journalctl -f -k

Also firewall log messages will appear here.

You can use tcpdump to check the traffic on the wire (or in the VPN tunnel). For example to see all ipv6 traffic in the tunnel on the gateway:

# tcpdump -nettti wg0 "ip6"


Setup WireGuard with global IPv6

Setting up WireGuard IPv6

Reddit: Wireguard doesn’t seem to work with IPv6

Wireguard: enable debug logging to fix network issues

Shorewall6: Proxy NDP

Linux security hardening recommendations

In a previous blog post, I wrote how to secure OpenSSH against brute force attacks. However, what if someone manages to get a shell on your system, despite all your efforts? You want to protect your system from your users doing nasty things? It is important to harden your system further according to the principle of defense in depth in order.

Software updates

Make sure you are running a supported distribution, and by preference the most recent version one. For example, Debian Jessie is still supported, however upgrading to Debian Stretch is strongly recommended, because it offers various security improvements (more recent kernel with new security hardening, PHP 7 with new security related features, etc…)

Install amd64-microcode (for AMD CPU’s) or intel-microcode (for Intel CPU’s) which are needed to protect against hardware vulnerabilities such as Spectre, Meltdown and L1TF. I recommend installing it from stretch-backports in order to have the latest firmware.

Automatic updates and needrestart

I recommend installing unattened-upgrades . You can configure it to just download updates or to download and install them automatically. By default, unattended-upgrades will only install updates from the official security repositories. This way it is relatively safe to let it do this automatically. If you have already installed it, you can run this command to reconfigure it:

# dpkg-reconfigure unattended-upgrades

When you update system libraries, you should also restart all daemons which are using these libraries to make them use the newly installed version. This is exactly what needrestart does. After you have run apt-get, it will check whether there are any daemons running with older libraries, and will propose you to restart them. If you use it with unattended-upgrades, you should set this option in /etc/needrestart/needrestart.conf to make sure that all services which require a restart are indeed restarted:

$nrconf{restart} = 'a';

Up-to-date kernel

Running an up-to-date kernel is very important, because also the kernel can be vulnerable. In the worst case, an outdated kernel can be exploited to gain root permissions. Do not forget to reboot after updating the kernel.

Every new kernel version also contains various extra security hardening measures. Kernel developer Kees Cook has an overview of security related changes in the kernel.

In case you build your own kernel, you can use kconfig-hardened-check to get recommendation for a hardened kernel configuration.null

Firewall: filtering outgoing traffic

It is very obvious to install a firewall which filters incoming traffic. However, have you considered also filtering outgoing traffic? This is a bit more difficult to set up because you need to whitelist all outgoing hosts to which connections are needed (I think of your distribution’s repositories, NTP servers, DNS servers,…), but it is a very effective measure which will help limiting damage in case a user account gets compromised, despite all your other protective efforts.

Ensuring strong passwords

Prevent your users from setting bad passwords by installing libpam-pwquality, together with some word lists for your language and a few common languages. These will be used for verifying that the user is not using a common word as his password. libpam-quality will be enabled automatically after installation with some default settings.

# apt-get install libpam-pwquality wbritish wamerican wfrench wngerman wdutch

Please note that by default, libpam-pwquality will only enforce strong passwords when a non-root user changes its password. If root is setting a password, it will give a warning if a weak password is set, but will still allow it. If you want to enforce it for root too (which I recommend), then add enforce_for_root in the pam_pwquality line in /etc/pam.d/common-password:

password	requisite retry=3 enforce_for_root

Automatically log out inactive users

In order to log out inactive users, set a timeout of 600 seconds on the Bash shell. Create /etc/profile.d/

export TMOUT=600
readonly TMOUT

Prevent creating cron jobs

Make sure users cannot set cron jobs. In case an attacker gets a shell on your system, often cron will be used to ensure the malware continues running after a reboot. In order to prevent normal users to set up cron jobs, create an empty /etc/cron.allow.

Protect against fork bombs and excessive logins and CPU usage

Create a new file in /etc/security/limits.d to impose some limits to user sessions. I strongly recommend setting a value for nproc, in order to prevent fork bombs. maxlogins is the maximum number of logins per user, and cpu is used to set a limit on the CPU time a user can use (in minutes):

*	hard	nproc		1024
*	hard	maxlogins 	4
1000:	hard	cpu		180

Hiding processes from other users

By mounting the /proc filesystem with the hidepid=2 option, users cannot see the PIDs of processes by other users in /proc, and hence these processes also become invisible when using tools like top and ps. Put this in /etc/fstab to mount /proc by default with this option:

none	/proc	proc	defaults,hidepid=2	0	0

Restricting /proc/kallsyms

It is possible to restrict access to /proc/kallsyms at boot time by setting 004 permissions. Put this in /etc/rc.local:

chmod 400 /proc/kallsyms

/proc/kallsyms contains information about how the kernel’s memory is laid out. With this information it becomes easier to attack the kernel itself, so hiding this information is always a good idea. It should be noted though that attackers can get this information from other sources too, such as from the files in /boot.

Harden kernel configuration with sysctl

Several kernel settings can be set at run time using sysctl. To make these settinsg permanent, put these settings in files with the .conf extension in /etc/sysctl.d.

It is possible to hide the kernel messages (which can be read with the dmesg command) from other users than root by setting the sysctl kernel.dmesg_restrict to 1. On Debian Stretch and later this should already be the default value:

kernel.dmesg_restrict = 1

From Linux kernel version 4.19 on it’s possible to disallow opening FIFOs or regular files not owned by the user in world writable sticky directories. This setting would have prevented vulnerabilities found in different user space programs the last couple of years. This protection is activated automatically if you use systemd version 241 or higher with Linux 4.19 or higher. If your kernel supports this feature but you are not using systemd 241, you can activate it yourself by setting the right sysctl settings:

fs.protected_regular = 1
fs.protected_fifos = 1

Also check whether the following sysctl’s have the right value in order to enable protection hard links and symlinks. These work with Linux 3.6 and higher, and likely will already be enabled by default on your system:

fs.protected_hardlinks = 1
fs.protected_symlinks = 1

Also by default on Debian Stretch only root users can access perf events:

kernel.perf_event_paranoid = 3

Show kernel pointers in /proc as null for non-root users:

kernel.kptr_restrict = 1

Disable the kexec system call, which allows you to boot a different kernel without going through the BIOS and boot loader:

kernel.kexec_load_disabled = 1

Allow ptrace access (used by gdb and strace) for non-root users only to child processes. For example strace ls will still work, but strace -p 8659 will not work as non-root user:

kernel.yama.ptrace_scope = 1

The Linux kernel includes eBPF, the extended Berkeley Packet Filter, which is a VM in which unprivileged users can load and run certain code in the kernel. If you are sure no users need to call bpf(), it can be disabled for non-root users:

kernel.unprivileged_bpf_disabled = 1

In case the BPF Just-In-Time compiler is enabled (it is disabled by default, see sysctl net/core/bpf_jit_enable), it is possible to enable some extra hardening against certain vulnerabilities:

net.core.bpf_jit_harden = 2

Take a look at the Kernel Self Protection Project Recommended settings page to find an up to date list of recommended settings.


Finally I want to mention Lynis, a security auditing tool. It will check the configuration of your system, and make recommendations for further security hardening.

Further ideas

“The Great Firewall of Belgium” active

Since today, Belgium has got it’s own version of “The Great Firewall of China”. The biggest Belgian ISPs are blocking access to several web sites, often related to child porn.

The idea already existed for several months, but the implementation was probably accelerated after a Dutch guy recently created a website where he posted detailed personal information about child abusers in Belgium. While publishing such detailed private information is forbidden in Belgium, it was very difficult to take real action against the website, because it operated from abroad.

So now this website is not accessible anymore from most Belgian ISPs. People who try to access this website, get redirected to a web page which explains that the web site is not accessible because it is considered illegal in Belgium.

Technically, it’s not really a firewall. The redirection happens on the DNS level. Instead of returning the real IP of the server, the DNS servers now return the address of a server in Belgium containing the warning page.

While I agree (like every sane person) that things like child’s pornography are completely sick and should be severely acted against, I think that creating a blacklist of websites which people cannot visit any more is a very dangerous precedent. It’s not clear at all how it is decided to put a website on the blacklist. Currently this is not based on a judge’s decision after an official juridical procedure. Also how long will it take until someone makes a mistake in the list and blocks half of the Internet by error (which is not unrealistic, it happened to Google recently!), or worse, until sites of political dissidents are blocked? For this reason, I have decided to stop my internal Bind DNS server at home from forwarding its requests to my ISPs DNS and instead I let it do iterative recursion now.  I read that many others are starting to use OpenDNS now, but this seems to have privacy issues by itself too.