Monday, July 17, 2017

Writing in Sinhala (සිංහල) using Latex (a follow up post)

Sometime back, I wrote a blog post about preparing Latex documents with Sinhala language [1]. I received very good feedbacks for that post and encouraged me to explore more. However recently, I came across a question posted in Stack Exchange regarding Latex documents in Sinhala [2]. The nice thing was that my original blog post was mentioned in that thread. I jumped in and tried to help the person who raised the question. This attempt helped myself to understand another important thing which is about how to use any Sinhala font we want in our Latex documents.

In this article, I decided to write down those simple steps of getting a Sinhala Latex document with our favorite Sinhala font for my future reference. Here we go.

(1) First of all, we need Latex with all the packages installed in our computer. I'm using a 64-bit Ubuntu 16.04 LTS machine. I can use the following command on the terminal to install Latex with all the packages.

sudo apt-get install textlive-full

(2) Now, open your favorite text editor and create a file with the name my-example.tex and save it in some directory (folder). This is the file where we will put our text contents.

(3) Now, you need to put the Sinhala font file in the directory. I'm going to use the fond called Iskoola Potha. It comes as a file with the file extension ttf. If you want the same file I used, you can download it from here [5]. I renamed the font file name to be iskoola-pota.ttf.

(4) Now, everything is set for us to write our Sinhala contents in the Latex file. Open the my-example.tex file and put the following content there.


\usepackage[a4paper,left=2.5cm, right=2.5cm, top=2.5cm, bottom=2.5cm]{geometry}

\setmainfont[Extension=.ttf, Language=Sinhala, BoldFont=iskoola-pota, ItalicFont=iskoola-pota]{iskoola-pota}

\title{මාතෘකාව මෙතන ලියන්න}
\author{අසංක සායක්කාර}




මේ මම සිංහලෙන් සකස් කල ලිපියක්. මෙය සකස් කිරිඉමට මම \bf{ලේටෙක්} මෘදුකාංගය පාවිච්චි කලා. එය ඉතාම ප්‍රයෝජනවත් මෙවලමක් මට.


Some English here and there.


(5) It's time to generate the PDF file and see how it looks like. Run the following command from the terminal for that.

xelatex my-example.tex

Now, you may notice that there's a PDF file generated in the local directory where you had your Latex and TTF files. Open the PDF file to see your output.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

OpenSSL on Linux Terminal for Cryptography

OpenSSL is the most important library we will be using if we are to use some cryptographic functions on a Linux computer. There are hundreds of variations of cryptographic algorithms and related functions are available on Linux terminal with OpenSSL. In this post, I would like to note down few useful things we can do with OpenSSL library on Linux.

Base64 Encoding:

When dealing with various files and data types, sometimes it is useful to convert everything into text format. Base64 is an encoding technique which we can use to convert different data into text format and then decode from text format to the original format. Let's see how we can do it.

First of all, let's select an image file in jpg format. We are going to encode this image file in base64 format as follows.

cat old-house.jpg | openssl enc -base64 >> encoded-image.jpg

Now, it you try to open the encoded image file, you will see that you cannot open in as a usual image file. However, the nice thing is, you can open the encoded image file using a text editor because the content is printable characters now. Let's decode the encoded image file back to the original format.

cat encoded-image.jpg | openssl enc -base64 -d >> decoded-image.jpg

Data Encryption Standard (DES):

DES is a little bit older data encryption algorithm which we don't have to use nowadays. Anyway, with OpenSSL library, we can use DES as follows to encrypt data.

openssl enc -des -a -in plantext.txt -out ciphertext.des

Once encrypted, we can use the following command to decrypt the data back to the plain text.

openssl enc -des -d -a -in ciphertext.des -out plaintext.tex

Advanced Encryption Standard (AES):

AES is a better and stronger encryption algorithm compared to DES. We can encrypt a file using AES and then decrypt the file back to the plain text using the following two commands.

openssl aes-256-cbc -in plaintext.txt -out ciphertext.aes

openssl aes-256-cbc -d -in ciphertext.aes -out plaintext.txt

Rivest, Shamir, Adleman (RSA):

When we are browsing web on our computer or mobile phone through a secure channel, the encryption algorithm which helps us most importantly is RSA. It is an asymmetric key encryption algorithm where we have two keys called as Public key and Private key. Private key is what we always keep to ourselves while the Public key can be distributed among everybody.

First of all, we need to generate a key pair in order to use RSA. Let's generate the private key and public key using the following two commands.

openssl genrsa -out private_key.pem 1024

openssl rsa -in private_key.pem -out public_key.pem -outform PEM -pubout

If you check the local directory where you were when running the above commands, now you should be able to see that two new files are created as private_key.pem and public_key.pem which are our keys. Now, we can encrypt data using RSA. Let's say we are going to encrypt a text file so that only a friend can see it. Then, we have to use the friend's public key during the encryption as follows.

openssl rsautl -encrypt -inkey public_key.pem -pubin -in plaintext.txt -out ciphertext.txt

Now, when your friend decrypt the cipher text, he or she should use his/her private key as follows.

openssl rsautl -decrypt -inkey private_key.pem -in ciphertext.txt -out plaintext.txt

Digital Signature of a Message:

When sending an encrypted message to someone, sometimes we need to prove that we are the person who sent the message. Just because we use RSA encryption as above, we cannot prove that we sent it. In order to prove the senders identity, we can use digital signatures. A digital signature is nothing other than just a Hash value of the original message encrypted using the private key of the sender. Since the private key of someone is always with that perform, a digital signature can be produced only by the owner of the sender's private key. We can digitally sign as follows using the RSA private key.

openssl dgst -sha256 -sign private_key.pem -out signature.txt plaintext.txt

Now, at the recipients side, he or she can verify the senders signature by decrypting the signature file using the senders public key (which is available) and then recalculate the Hash value of the original message. Following command illustrates that functionality.

openssl dgst -sha256 -verify public_key.pem -signature signature.txt plaintext.txt

There are so many things we can do with the OpenSSL library. It is up to you to explore it further.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Using Autopsy Tool for Forensic Disk Analysis

Autopsy is a web based GUI interface for the Sleuthkit forensic investigation tool kit. It can be used for interesting forensic analysis works on images acquired from storage devices. In this blog post, I'm writing the basics steps to install and use Autopsy tool to analyze a disk image.

Since the usage of a real disk image taken from somebody's storage device raises privacy concerns, I'm preparing custom disk images by manually creating filesystems on binary files. So, first of all, let's create our testing disk image.

Creating a custom disk image:

(1) Creating a file of 500MB. 

  dd if=/dev/zero of=./mydisk.img bs=1M count=500

(2) Format the file with the FAT32 file system.

    sudo mkfs.vfat -F 32 mydisk.img

(3) Mount the filesystem.

    mkdir mount-point
  sudo mount mydisk.img ./mount-point/

(4) Create a text file and add some sample content.

    sudo touch mount-point/readme.txt
  sudo vim mount-point/readme.txt

    "This is just a text file for testing purposes."

(5) Now, delete the file you created.

    sudo rm mount-point/readme.txt

(6) Unmount the filesystem.

    sudo umount mount-point/

Using Autopsy tool for disk analysis:

It's time to analyse the disk image using Autopsy tool which is the GUI frontend for the Sleuthkit.

(1) Install Autopsy tool together with Sleuthkit on a Linux machine.

    sudo apt-get update
  sudo apt-get install autopsy

(2) Start Autopsy with root previleges.

    sudo autopsy

(3) Now, we can access the web interface using the following URL.


(4) Create a new case, a new host and finally give path to the above disk image. Once you reach the end of the creation of everything, you can see a button called "Analyze" in order to analyze the disk image.

(5) In this interface, click on the button for "File Analysis". Then you can see the files of the disk image. We can see our deleted text file in red color.

(6) In the above screen, you can see that there is a column called "META". Click the item of the deleted "readme.txt" file under this "META" column. Now you will see some meta data of the file.

(7) In the above screen, note that the file size is 47 bytes. Since the sector size of this disk image is 512 bytes, this file just resides in a single sector. That is the sector shown as "2038" in the above screenshot. Click on that sector number to view it.

 (8) On this new screen, we can view the content of the file in different formats such as ASCII and Hex.

(9) Click on the "Export Contents" button to export the deleted file and save it somewhere in your local storage.
It just saves as a raw file without the proper file extesion.

(10) We can check the file type of the exported file using various ways.

    file vol1-Sector2038.raw

(11) Let's rename the file to the correct file extension type.

    mv vol1-Sector2038.raw textfile.txt

(12) Finally, take a look at the file contents to see that is the file we created.

    cat textfile.txt

There are so many features in Autopsy tool which we can explore.




Saturday, April 22, 2017

Taking a Linux RAM Image

For various purposes such as forensic investigatins and debugging of Linux systems, we need to have a RAM image taken from a running Linux system. While there are various ways to do it, I explored an easy and interesting way using a special kernel module for Linux called LiME. I will explain the steps one by one.

(1) Download LiME

(2) Go into the downloaded directory and compile the kernel module.


(3) Load the kernel module and save RAM dump to a file in one line.

sudo insmod lime-4.4.0-70-generic.ko "path=/home/asanka/Desktop/asanka-ram/mem.lime format=lime"

(4) If we want to take another RAM dump, first we have to unload the kernel module.

lsmod | grep lime
rmmod lime

(5) Now let's capture again but this time we use the 'raw' format.

sudo insmod lime-4.4.0-70-generic.ko "path=/home/asanka/Desktop/asanka-ram/mem.raw format=raw" 

(6) Analysis of the captured RAM image is a seperate topic. However, we can perform the most basic things with this RAM image as a start.

strings mem.raw | less
strings mem.raw | grep "key word"



Inspecting File Metadata using exiftool

Inspecting metadata of a file is a way to reveal so many interesting things about it. Specially, image files which are taken as pictures from cameras contains wonderful amount of information. There's a nice tool called exiftool which we can use for this purpose. I'll briefly write about how we can install it and use to inspect some files.

(1) In order to install exiftool, you can either use the package repositories or just download the source code of exiftool and build locally.

#To install using package repositories, issue to following command in the terminal.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install libimage-exiftool-perl 

#If you want to build exiftool from the source code, first you should download the code from the following place.

#Extract the downloaded compressed file and move into it.

tar xvzf Image-ExifTool-10.49.tar.gz Image-ExifTool-10.49/ 
cd Image-ExifTool-10.49/

#Compile and install the tool using the following commands.

perl Makefile.PL
make test
sudo make install

(2) It's time to inspect a file. Let's take a picture from a camera and then inspect it as follows.

exiftool file-name.jpg

The screen shot shown above illustrates the output of the exiftool ran against an image file.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Using PDFTK to Process PDF Documents

When dealing with PDF documents, we come across different requirements such as splitting a document in to parts and sometimes merging multiple documents together. I recently came across a great tool which we can use to do various tasks with PDF documents. I decided to list down few things I can do using pdftk tool and leave a link to a better resource.

(1) Install pdftk tool.

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install pdftk

(2) Suppose I want to create a new pdf file extracted from the contents of the page numbers 31 to 37 in a larger pdf file. We can do that as follows.

pdftk input.pdf cat 31-37 output output.pdf

(3) Merging two documents one at the end of another.

pdftk input-file1.pdf input-file2.pdf cat output new-document.pdf

(4) Selecting few pages from multiple documents and putting them together into a single document.

pdftk A=input-file1.pdf B=input-file2.pdf cat A110-117 B2-3 output new-document.pdf

That's it!


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Independent Component Analysis (ICA)

When we want to separate two signals which are mixed up, one interesting method we can use is Independent Component Analysis (ICA).  I think I'm not knowledgeable enough to explain how this whole thing works but there are plenty of explanations about it in the web. Take a look at the references listed at the end for any further details. But, the purpose of this article is to put the codes I used recently for an ICA job so that I will not forget how to use it in the future.

In order to perform ICA on Python we need to install an important package first. Let's do it first.

sudo pip install --upgrade pip
pip install -U scikit-learn

Now, it's time to write the Python script. The following script is taking two wav files as input which contains two mixed signals in different ways. Then it generates another two new wav files which contains the separated signals.

Blind source separation using FastICA

An example of estimating sources from noisy data.

:ref:`ICA` is used to estimate sources given noisy measurements.
Imagine 3 instruments playing simultaneously and 3 microphones
recording the mixed signals. ICA is used to recover the sources
ie. what is played by each instrument. Importantly, PCA fails
at recovering our `instruments` since the related signals reflect
non-Gaussian processes.


import os
import wave
import pylab
import matplotlib

import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from scipy import signal
from import wavfile

from sklearn.decomposition import FastICA, PCA


matplotlib.rcParams['ps.useafm'] = True
matplotlib.rcParams['pdf.use14corefonts'] = True
matplotlib.rcParams['text.usetex'] = True

# read data from wav files
sample_rate1, samples1 ='100000010mix1.wav')
sample_rate2, samples2 ='100000010mix2.wav')

print 'sample_rate1', sample_rate1
print 'sample_rate2', sample_rate2

S = np.c_[samples1, samples2]

ica = FastICA(n_components=2)
S_ = ica.fit_transform(S)  # Reconstruct signals

print 'original signal=', S
print 'recovered signal=', S_
print 'extracted signal1', S_[:,0]
print 'extracted signal2', S_[:,1]

# write data to wav files
scaled1 = np.int16(S_[:,0]/np.max(np.abs(S_[:,0])) * 32767)
wavfile.write('extracted-signal-1.wav', sample_rate1, scaled1)

scaled2 = np.int16(S_[:,1]/np.max(np.abs(S_[:,1])) * 32767)
wavfile.write('extracted-signal-2.wav', sample_rate2, scaled2)

# Plot results

pylab.figure(num=None, figsize=(10, 10))

pylab.title('(received signal 1)')
pylab.xlabel('Time (s)')
pylab.ylabel('Sound amplitude')

pylab.title('(received signal 2)')
pylab.xlabel('Time (s)')
pylab.ylabel('Sound amplitude')

pylab.title('(extracted signal 1)')
pylab.xlabel('Time (s)')
pylab.ylabel('Sound amplitude')

pylab.title('(extracted signal 2)')
pylab.xlabel('Time (s)')
pylab.ylabel('Sound amplitude')


Run this Python script with the two wav files in the same directory and you will get the output signals as wav files in addition to seeing waveform plots of all these signals.