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Taking Linux Security To The Next Level With OpenSnitch Firewall

OpenSnitch: The ultimate application-level firewall for Linux, safeguarding your system by monitoring outbound connections.

By sk
5.4K views

In the fast-changing field of online safety, tools like OpenSnitch have become very important for keeping your Linux system safe and secure. OpenSnitch, the GNU/Linux port of the renowned Little Snitch application firewall, provides an unparalleled layer of security to your Linux environment. This blog post aims to explore what is OpenSnitch, and its impressive features, how to install OpenSnitch in various Linux distributions, and finally how to use OpenSnitch to secure your Linux system.

What is OpenSnitch?

OpenSnitch is an open-source application-level firewall for GNU/Linux systems. This advanced firewall takes a cue from its Mac OS counterpart, Little Snitch, and brings in a robust level of security and control to Linux systems.

It helps monitor and control outgoing traffic, allowing users to set policies on a per-application basis. Thus, OpenSnitch grants you the authority to dictate which applications can send data over the internet and which ones cannot.

To put this in simple terms, OpenSnitch is like a traffic cop for your system. It lets you control what information can leave your computer over the internet.

Key Features of OpenSnitch

OpenSnitch is packed with many useful features that make it stand out among other firewalls. It brings granular control to users, allowing them to block or allow outgoing connections based on different criteria such as destination, port, and protocol. Additionally, it provides detailed reports and visualizations of network traffic, allowing you to monitor what applications are making requests and where they are being sent. OpenSnitch is also highly configurable, permitting users to craft detailed rules according to their requirements.

Here's a list of OpenSnitch features:

  1. Outbound Connections Filtering: OpenSnitch allows you to monitor and control the information that your applications send over the internet.
  2. Ad, Tracker, and Malware Blocking: With OpenSnitch, you can stop ads, trackers, and malware domains from affecting your entire system.
  3. Firewall Configuration from GUI: OpenSnitch allows you to set up and manage your system's firewall easily from its Graphic User Interface (GUI). You can use it to configure your input policy and allow specific services to reach your system.
  4. Manage Multiple Nodes: You can control and manage multiple nodes or systems from a single OpenSnitch GUI. A node refers to a daemon or a background process running on a machine. When you install the OpenSnitch daemon on multiple machines, each one becomes a node that can be managed from a centralized location through the OpenSnitch GUI. This makes it easy to monitor and control several systems at once.
  5. Integration with SIEM: OpenSnitch can be integrated with Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems. This allows for improved monitoring and faster response to security incidents.

Install OpenSnitch in Linux

Starting from version v1.5.2 and onwards, OpenSnitch is now available in the default repositories of both Debian Bookworm 12 and Ubuntu 23.04. To install OpenSnitch Debian 12 and Ubuntu 23.04, simply run:

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install opensnitch

On other versions of the Linux distributions, you can install OpenSnitch by directly downloading the installation files hosted in its official GitHub repository.

Step 1: Download the Packages

First, you need to download the necessary packages for your system. You can do this by going to https://github.com/evilsocket/opensnitch/releases. From here, download the deb/rpm packages suitable for your Linux distribution.

Step 2: Installation

For .deb Systems (like Ubuntu)

Open your terminal and navigate to the directory where you downloaded the .deb files. Then, enter the following command:

$ sudo apt install ./opensnitch*.deb ./python3-opensnitch-ui*.deb

For .rpm Systems (like AlmaLinux, CentOS, Fedora, and Rocky Linux)

Open your terminal and navigate to the directory where you downloaded the .rpm files. Then, enter the following commands:

$ sudo yum localinstall opensnitch-1*.rpm
$ sudo yum localinstall opensnitch-ui*.rpm

Step 3: Run OpenSnitch

After installing OpenSnitch, you can run it by entering the following command in the terminal:

$ opensnitch-ui

Alternatively, you can also launch OpenSnitch from the Applications menu on your system.

A note for Ubuntu 22.04 and Linux Mint 21.x users:

OpenSnitch UI may not work in Ubuntu 22.04 and LinuxMint 21.x due to the python3-grpcio version. To fix this follow the steps given below:

First, you need to check your Python version. Open the terminal and enter the following command:

$ python3 -V

You'll see an output like Python 3.10.9 which indicates your Python version.

Install Correct grpcio Version

The issue seems to be with the python3-grpcio version (1.30.2-3build6) that comes with Ubuntu 22. If the OpenSnitch UI is not working or is using 100% CPU, you need to install the correct version of grpcio from pip.

Use the following command, replacing "3.10" with your Python version number if different:

$ python3.10 -m pip install --ignore-installed grpcio==1.44.0

This command installs the grpcio version 1.44.0 which is compatible with OpenSnitch on Ubuntu 22.04 and LinuxMint 21.x.

After completing these steps, the OpenSnitch UI should function properly without consuming excessive CPU resources.

Start OpenSnitch Service

On Debian and Ubuntu, OpenSnitch daemon will start automatically after installation. Just in case, if it doesn't start, manually start OpenSnitch service.

Here's how you can manually start the OpenSnitch service if it doesn't start automatically after installation or reboot:

Step 1: Enable the OpenSnitch Service

First, enable the OpenSnitch service by running the following command in the terminal:

$ sudo systemctl enable --now opensnitch

This command ensures that the OpenSnitch service will automatically start each time you boot your system.

Step 2: Start the OpenSnitch Service

Next, manually start the OpenSnitch service with the following command:

$ sudo systemctl start opensnitch

This command starts the OpenSnitch service immediately.

If the above commands don't work with opensnitch, try replacing opensnitch with opensnitchd in both commands.

After these steps, the OpenSnitch service should be up and running on your system.

And that's it! You've successfully installed OpenSnitch on your Linux system and started its service. Now, you can start configuring it to monitor and control your outbound network traffic.

Secure Linux System with OpenSnitch

Once you've installed OpenSnitch, you'll see a new icon in your system tray. You can click this icon to open the OpenSnitch interface. Alternatively, you can find OpenSnitch in your system menu under the 'Internet' section. If you're using GNOME, you can find OpenSnitch by searching for it in the dash and then clicking on its icon.

Launch OpenSnitch
Launch OpenSnitch

As soon as OpenSnitch is started, the background service starts to check your system's connections. It will then prompt you to either allow or deny these connections.

OpenSnitch Firewall in Action
OpenSnitch Firewall in Action

If you don't take any action within 30 seconds (you can change this time interval), OpenSnitch will proceed with the default action. The default action is deny.

If you want to change the time interval or the default action, click on the Preferences icon and change the values accordingly.

Change Default Timeout and Action in OpenSnitch
Change Default Timeout and Action in OpenSnitch

Please note that the OpenSnitch prompts the user to either allow or block an application each time a new one is launched. While this might initially seem bothersome, it's a one-time process for each application. After you've chosen to allow or block all your applications, these prompts will stop. This means that after the initial setup, OpenSnitch will operate smoothly, enhancing your system's security without disrupting your workflow.

Within the OpenSnitch graphical user interface (GUI), you can observe all the connections and processes that have been intercepted by the daemon. By double-clicking on a specific row, you can view the information regarding a process, rule, host, or user.

Let us navigate to each tab and try to observe what is going on in there.

Events Tab

This is the first tab in OpenSnitch interface. In Events tab, you can view all the activity that the OpenSnitch service has recorded.

The following picture shows the "Events" section of OpenSnitch UI.

OpenSnitch Events Section
OpenSnitch Events Section

As you can see, the 'Events Tab' displays a comprehensive log of all the network connections that the OpenSnitch service has registered. You can filter these connections by the action taken, a specific keyword, or limit the number of entries shown. Furthermore, you have the option to organize these connections based on the columns.

Certain columns are interactive and will display more details when clicked on. For instance, if you double-click on a 'Node', it will show you all the connections associated with that particular node.

Nodes Tab

You can view a list of all known nodes under the 'Nodes' tab. As I stated already, a node refers to a service (or daemon) running on a computer. This service can be installed across several computers and controlled from a central server, like a Graphical User Interface (GUI).

OpenSnitch Nodes Tab
OpenSnitch Nodes Tab

Rules Tab

Within the 'Rules' tab, you can view the list of all defined rules. Double-clicking on a rule will provide more details about it. Moreover, by right-clicking on a rule, you can perform various operations individually or in groups.

Rules Tab
Rules Tab

If you find any suspicious activity, you can immediately block them from the 'Rules' section. For example, to deny a connection, simply Right click on a rule and select Action -> Deny.

Deny a Rule
Deny a Rule

If you look at the left pane of the Rules tab, the Application rules category link shows two more sub-categories named "Permanent" and "Temporary".

By default, all the rules are temporary that are saved under the "Temporary" sub-category. These rules will remain in effect only until the system is restarted. To make them permanent, Right click on the Rule, and select Duration -> Always.

Make Rules Permanent
Make Rules Permanent

After you've made the rules permanent, they will be under "Permanent" sub-category.

Similarly, you can disable and delete a rule by choosing the respective option from the right click context menu.

Hosts Tab

This tab shows the list of remote hosts that are connected to your system.

Hosts Tab
Hosts Tab

You can double click on any host to view the detailed information (E.g. Destination IP, protocol, port etc.) about that particular host.

View Details of a Specific Host
View Details of a Specific Host

Applications Tab

The Applications tab shows the list of applications (i.e. processes) that currently being monitored by OpenSnitch.

Applications Tab
Applications Tab

Click on any application to view more details about that particular application.

Addresses Tab

The Addresses tab lists all the IP addresses of the remote hosts connected to your local system. The remote hosts might be the software mirrors, DNS server (E.g. 8.8.8.8), and NTP server etc.

Addresses Tab
Addresses Tab

If you want to view more details about a remote host, simply double click on the IP address.

Ports Tab

This tab shows the what ports are currently being used by applications to connect to the external world. It could be your DNS server port (E.g. 53).

Ports Tab
Ports Tab

Users Tab

This tab shows all the list of system and local user accounts.

Users Tab
Users Tab

Uninstall OpenSnitch

Here are the steps to uninstall OpenSnitch from your system, which includes the removal of its rules and configuration:

Note: If you're planning to install a new version of OpenSnitch, there's no need to uninstall the old version first. Simply install the new version and it will automatically upgrade.

For deb packages:

To remove the package while keeping the configuration and rules, use the following command:

$ sudo apt remove opensnitch python3-opensnitch-ui

To completely remove the packages, including rules and configuration, use the following command:

$ sudo apt remove --purge opensnitch python3-opensnitch-ui

For rpm packages:

  • For Yum, use the command: sudo yum remove opensnitch opensnitch-ui
  • For Dnf, use the command: sudo dnf remove opensnitch opensnitch-ui
  • For Zypper, use the command: sudo zypper remove opensnitch opensnitch-ui

If you installed pip packages:

You can uninstall them using the following commands:

$ pip3 uninstall grpcio-tools unicode_slugify pyinotify
$ pip3 uninstall grpcio PyQt5 Unidecode

(Note: The latter are transient dependencies; you can check with pip show to validate how the original installation was done. If you find the installation location is not /usr/lib/, then these are not installed through apt.)

After following these steps, OpenSnitch should be completely removed from your system.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here's a list of commonly asked FAQ about OpenSnitch.

Q: What is OpenSnitch?

A: OpenSnitch is an open-source application level firewall that allows you to control outgoing connections from your computer.

Q: What are some key features of OpenSnitch?

A: OpenSnitch can filter outbound connections interactively, block ads, trackers or malware domains, manage multiple nodes from a GUI, configure system firewall from the GUI, and integrate with third-party SIEM solutions.

Q: How do I install OpenSnitch?

A: You can download the appropriate packages from the official GitHub page and install them using the package manager of your system. For Debian Bookworm 12 and Ubuntu 23.04, OpenSnitch is available in the official repositories and can be installed using the apt package manager.

Q: The OpenSnitch UI doesn't work in Ubuntu 22.04, how can I fix this?

A: The issue might be related to the python3-grpcio version. As a workaround, install the grpcio version from pip as your regular user, following the commands provided in the "Install OpenSnitch" section.

Q: What does the term 'node' refer to in OpenSnitch?

A: A 'node' refers to a service running on a computer. You can install the service across multiple computers and control them from a central server, like a GUI.

Q: What are the 'Events', 'Nodes' and 'Rules' tabs in the OpenSnitch GUI?

A: The 'Events' tab logs all network connections registered by the service. The 'Nodes' tab lists all recognized nodes. The 'Rules' tab displays all the defined rules.

Q: What happens if I don't respond to the connection prompts from OpenSnitch?

A: If you don't take any action within 30 seconds, OpenSnitch will proceed with the default action you have set up beforehand. You can change these later via Preferences window.

Q: Are OpenSnitch rules permanent?

A: By default, all the rules in OpenSnitch are temporary. These rules will remain in effect only until the system undergoes a restart.

Q: Can OpenSnitch help block ads and trackers?

A: Yes, OpenSnitch can be used to block ads, trackers, and even malware domains system-wide, giving you control over what your system connects to.

Q: Do I need to uninstall OpenSnitch before installing a new version?

A: No, if you're planning to install a new version of OpenSnitch, there's no need to uninstall the old version first. Simply install the new version and it will automatically upgrade.

Related Read: How To Effortlessly Monitor Your Internet Traffic Using Sniffnet Network Monitoring Tool In Linux And Unix

Conclusion

OpenSnitch is a robust, user-friendly application level firewall. Its ability to control outbound connections, block unwanted ads, and provide detailed insights makes it an invaluable tool for ensuring network security. Whether you're an individual user or managing multiple nodes, OpenSnitch offers a blend of power and simplicity that enhances system control and protection.

Let us know your thoughts on this firewall application via the comment section below.

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2 comments

Sebastian August 10, 2023 - 9:39 pm

I think it’s also worth mentioning picosnitch here, which focuses more on the monitoring side of Little Snitch and has similar features like bandwidth monitoring and visualizations that OpenSnitch does not.

Reply
sk August 11, 2023 - 1:56 pm

Never heard of it before. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I will look into it.

Reply

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