Showing posts with label EC2. Show all posts
Showing posts with label EC2. Show all posts

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Recovering network access to EC2 instances

So you've screwed something up. You made a typo in your sshd_config file. You added a firewall rule, or a route, or some other thing, and lost your network access to your EC2 instance. And of course whatever you broke, you broke permanently - you wrote your firewall rules directly to /etc/sysconfig/iptables, you made your goofy change to /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/whatever-interface; so rebooting won't make a damn bit of difference. You read the warnings, you know you shouldn't have. But you did anyway.

Oh, and you don't have any backups. Or you have backups from three months ago. Restoring from your crappy backups would mean hours to days of non-stop work and consistent downtime. Or Amazon or whatever other company you're using for backups actually broke your backups/lost your backups/never actually provided you with the backups you paid for.

Don't panic. You've got this. You remember that Amazon has some sort of Java-based something or other. Its got to be a virtual KVM. You login to the web console and find out that the Java-based something is a completely worthless SSH client, and not a KVM at all.

You are going to be fired.

Unless you found this post. I will save your backside, sir and/or ma'am.

Well, I will save your backside provided your environment has a couple of caveats. I will make them clear so that if you don't meet them you can get going somewhere else to find a solution ASAP. Here they are:

    - This is for Linux. If you are using Windows you are fired. Just kidding! You can mount Windows volumes in Linux, but reconfiguring network settings in this way is much more complicated since those settings are often stored in the registry rather than flat files. This walkthrough is just for volume management side of things; if you're dealing with Windows consider mounting the volume on a Linux VM and then using a tool like this one to modify the registry in the broken volume.
    - This only works for EBS volumes. There may be a way to do it with other types of volumes, but I haven't had to worry about it, and it will be much more complex than this if there is a way to do this with non-EBS instance store volumes.
    - I'm going to take for granted that you know how to start and stop an EC2 instance, and how to deploy an EC2 instance. I'm assuming this because you had to have done these things to make the instance you just broke. If you broke somebody else's instance and you don't know how to even restart the damn thing, well, first off - lol. And second, you're fired.
    - You need to either already have or be able to provision a second linux EBS-back EC2 instance in the same availability zone as your broken server

Those should be the only requirements. It won't matter if your broken volume is magnetic or SSD. Here is what to do:

1. For this to work you need a second EBS-backed EC2 instance running linux, other than the broken one, within the same region and availability zone (i.e. us-west-1a) as the broken server. It doesn't need to be the same "flavor" of Linux, but it makes things a lot easier if the kernel version is pretty close to one another. If you do not already have one deployed, create one now. Make a note of the instance-id of the second server (if you created your instance a while back, the instance-id will look like this: i-123a45fe - if you just created your instance, the id will be longer, 17 characters, like this: i-1234567890abcdef0).

2. From the AWS Management Console, select Instances and then highlight the broken instance. Make a note of the instance-id . Then STOP the instance.

3. Next, select Volumes. If you haven't already, give the volume of both the broken instance and your second troubleshooting instance a descriptive Name so you can quickly tell them apart. Make a note of the names and volume-id's and which instances they are connected to.

4. Highlight the volume of the BROKEN server, right-click, and select DETACH VOLUME.

5. Detaching volumes should be processed quickly, but your browser won't recognize the change right away. Refresh your screen to make sure the volume is detached. Then, right click the detached volume and select ATTACH VOLUME.

This will open a new window asking you which instance to attach the volume to and what to name the volume on the new server. Select your secondary, working server to attach the volume to. It should be alright to leave the default device label - it should be /dev/sdf. The only concern here is that you don't want to name the new volume a label that is already assigned. If you only have one EBS volume attached to your server, it will automatically be assigned /dev/sda1. If you've customized volume management for your server, you know these settings; if you haven't, then this walkthrough will assume you use /dev/sdf for the broken disk volume label on the secondary server.

6. SSH to your working secondary server and make a new folder under /. You will be mounting the broken disk to this directory

    # cd /
    # mkdir broken/

7. Here's where things can get a bit complicated, and where a lot of the walkthroughs available on this subject get things wrong. In Step 5 we created a volume label /dev/sdf for mounting the broken disk to our secondary server; but it won't show up as /dev/sdf on your secondary server.

You should have two EBS devices attached: /dev/sda1, which is the default volume, and /dev/sdf, which is the broken drive. /dev/sda1 will show up as /dev/xvda1 - the "s" is translated to "xv" to indicate that it is a virtual disk. /dev/sdf will show up as two additional devices: /dev/xvdf and /dev/xvdf1. You will want to use /dev/xvdf1.

Where you go from here depends on the sort of filesystems that are in use. In most instances, the filesystem in use will be XFS. You can check the filesystem by running this command:

    # mount -l |grep xvd
    /dev/xvda1 on / type xfs (rw,relatime,attr2,inode64,noquota)

The filesystem is shown directly after the "type". This is important because attempting to mount the broken volume directly will fail when it uses XFS, like this:

    # mount /dev/xvdf1 /broken/
    mount: /dev/xvdf1 is write-protected, mounting read-only
    mount: unknown filesystem type '(null)'

Even though the error appears to indicate the volume was mounted "read-only", nothing get's mounted - the /broken/ directory will be empty and `mount -l` will not display /dev/xvdf1.

The problem here is that the filesystem must be specified by using the "-t" flag (using -t auto will also fail). Here is the correct command:

     # mount -t xfs /dev/xvdf1 /broken/

If successful, the command will output nothing. You can confirm by checking for content in the /broken/ directory and by running this:

    # mount -l |grep xvdf1
    # /dev/xvdf1 on / type xfs (rw,relatime,attr2,inode64,noquota)

8. You can now navigate through the /broken/ directory as if it were / on the broken server. You can use /broken/var/log/ to identify errors, and rewrite configuration files like /broken/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/. Be sure to remember to prepend /broken/ when navigating! It's easy to forget where you are and change something on your secondary working server, so don't do that, or else ...

9. Once you have reversed whatever was broken, unmount the disk from the broken server:

    # umount /broken

10. Detach the now-fixed volume from the secondary server.

11. Refresh your window and reattach the volume to the original server.

12. Restart the server and you should now be back in business.

There are so many reasons why this process is a huge pain in the ass as compared to a virtual KVM utility. I recently had to perform this procedure to resolve a networking issue on a server where most of the services were still responding - http & https were all fine, but SSH was dead. With a virtual console I could have repaired the issue without any downtime. Using this procedure forced me to bring down the server for 5 minutes or so to perform the repairs. That sucks. And up-to-date image backups would not have made anything better; remaining the server may have shaved a minute or two off of the total downtime that was required to run this procedure, but there would still be downtime.

I'm not sure why Amazon has declined to implement this sort of feature; Rackspace and others make it available. My guess would be that there are security issues involved, but that's just a guess. In any case, hopefully this walkthough helps out.

h/t Several of the images here were taken from a walkthrough by Mike Culver. Mike's screenshots were great and spared me having to take my own; unfortunately his walkthrough as currently published in Amazon's tutorials section fails in a variety of cases, including my recent one, which is why I wrote this.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Setting a hostname for your Amazon AWS EC2 server running RHEL or CentOS 7

So it turns out that setting your AWS EC2 server's hostname to be persistent across reboots is a surprising pain in the ass, at least with my usual OS of choice - RedHat/CentOS Linux.

If you're like me, setting a hostname is the sort of trivial non-task that at this point you really feel like you dont need to RTFM to figure out. You know about `hostnamectl set-hostname`. You've tried `nmcli general hostname`. You've manually set /etc/hostname. None of its persists past a reboot. Which can make life very difficult for those planning to use EC2 for email or dozens of other tasks.

Here's how to do it the right way, the first time. I'll also describe some circumstances that setting your own hostname will break things, and why its such a hassle to get this done in AWS in the first place.

Amazon relies on cloud-init to manage a variety of initialization tasks for its cloud servers; cloud-init was originally built to support Ubuntu images, but it is now used for a variety of different Amazon distros, including RHEL, CentOS and "Amazon linux". cloud-init is manged through a series of configuration files and modules; you can use them to add SSH keys, setup chef & puppet recipes, install SSL certificates, and all sorts of stuff. Think of it as a very fancy kickstart script.

By default, Amazon resets your server's hostname to the Public DNS entry for the IP address assigned to your server. These default hosts look something like this: for an IP address 111.222.333.444. If you have an Elastic IP Address, this hostname can be viewed through your EC2 Console by navigating to Network & Security -> Elastic IPs. The hostname is viewable in the "Public DNS" column. Because of this behavior, all of the default methods for assigning a hostname to your server are over-ridden on reboot. There is no way to change the hostname through the EC2 Console after your server has been built.

Here's the part of the walk through where I describe some circumstances where messing with your hostname can break stuff. If you have not assigned at least one Elastic IP Address (EIP) to your server, I strongly advise against messing with your server's hostname. Without an EIP, Amazon changes your server's public IP, private IP and hostname to whatever is available at the moment in your region. I haven't tried it, but I strongly suspect that making the changes in this walkthrough without an EIP will either just not work or will break something. There may be circumstances where you would want to accomplish this; hacks probably exist but this walkthrough ain't it.

Here's what to do:

Update the /etc/hostname file with your new hostname:
    [centos@... ~]$ sudo vi /etc/hostname
Initially, this file will contain the hostname assigned by Amazon. Delete this value and replace it with your preferred hostname. With vi, you must enter "INSERT MODE" to make changes to a document by pressing the i key.
NOTE: the official Amazon walkthrough tells you to add your hostname like this: HOSTNAME=persistent_host_name - that is incorrect. The correct way is to just put your hostname in there; if you want your hostname to be than the contents of /etc/hostname should be The official walkthrough also tells readers to use vim using the syntax #vim <filename>. Although installed by default with RHEL 7 & CentOS 7, vim has to be launched using #vi <filename>. 
Save and exit the vi editor. After you've made you're changes, press ESCAPE to exit INSERT MODE, then press SHIFT and : [colon] simultaneously to issue a command to the vi editor. Type wq, and then press Enter to save changes and exit back to the command prompt.

Update the /etc/hosts file with the new hostname.
    [centos@... ~]$ sudo vi /etc/hosts
Change the entry beginning with to read as follows: localhost.localdomain localhost
Save and exit the vi editor.

Update the /etc/sysconfig/network file.
    [centos@... ~]$ sudo vi /etc/sysconfig/network
Update the /etc/sysconfig/network file with the following values:
Save and exit the vi editor.
Change your server's primary cloud-init configuration file
    [centos@... ~]$ sudo vi /etc/cloud/cloud.cfg
Add the following string at the bottom of the file to ensure that the hostname change stays after a reboot.
    preserve_hostname: true
NOTE: At the bottom of /etc/cloud/cloud.cfg, you may find a line that appears to be commented out, like this: # vim:syntax=yaml - the preserve_hostname line must go at the very bottom of the file, even beneath the commented out line, or else it won't work.
Save and exit the vi editor.
Run the following command to reboot the instance to pick up the new hostname:
    [centos@... ~]$ sudo reboot 

After you reboot your server, execute the hostname command to check that your changes have stayed put.
    [centos@... ~]$ hostname
The command should return the new hostname:
    [centos@... ~]$ hostname

And that's about it, sports fans. I ripped off most of this from an Amazon KB article on the topic, with a few updates where the KB had some mistakes. This has been an issue with AWS for a while, and there appears to be a lot of confusion on the internet on how to get this accomplished, so I hope that by making this available more people will be able to get this resolved without wasting time.

Monday, September 28, 2015

EC2 IP aliasing script is now ready for use

About a month and a half ago I grew so frustrated by the boneheaded way that Amazon EC2 handles IP aliasing that I wrote a pretty lengthy post about the problems entailed and included a small program that would fix those problems.

Amazon provides some pretty productive documentation for some types of users. There is help available for you if you are any one of the following:

     - You are willing to pay for a new ENI to support a second IP address
     - You are multihoming / load balancing
     - You want to use "Amazon Linux" and install their ec2-net-utils

But, if you want to just add a second IP address to a pre-existing Linux server, you are pretty much screwed. Well, you were screwed. Now you can install my program - aliaser - as a service and it will route additional IP addresses for you without the need for an extra ENI.

I've uploaded aliaser to Github - it includes a shell script and a .service file, as well as some very easy-to-follow instructions for how to install the script to run at boot. I've also included a link to instructions on how to get your secondary IP from Amazon, which I went through in my first blog post and is a pre-requisite for installing aliaser.

NOTE: this service is built for Red Hat Enterprise Linux / CentOS version 7 using systemd. I haven't tested it with installs using initd; the .service file would not work, obviously, but could be replaced with a fairly simple init script. I might get around to adding one for initd fans, but odds are good if you are still using initd its because you are already pretty familiar with writing an init file yourself and this would be a very simple one. 

I also haven't tested aliaser with any releases other than 7.1 - so buyer beware. It would be cool to get something working for Gentoo and other operating systems. 

Anyone is welcome to use aliaser for any purpose. You're welcome to add it into other software, yadda yadda yadda. If it helps another admin out of a bind, I would be happy :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

An IRS tax refund phishing scam illustrates the widespread failure of hosting and antivirus providers' security measures

Scams focused on stealing tax refunds remain highly profitable, despite the fact that they are well known and understood by security professionals and the general public, and have been for years. A variety of distribution methods are used, with the common threads being the use of IRS logos and bureaucratic-sounding language to convince users to click a link, download and execute a file and/or send personally identifying information like a Social Security number. A recent example of one such a scam that I came across is a damning illustration of the failure of online service providers to protect users from obvious and simple malware distribution methods.

In the example I wish to discuss today, the distribution method was a spammed email that on a small ISP's installation of SpamAssassin (note: I am not an admin or employee of this system; I'm a customer) received an X-Spam-Status score of 5.3 after being flagged with the following variables:

X-Spam-Status: No, score=5.3 required=10.0 tests=AM_TRUNCATED,CK_419SIZE,
        autolearn=disabled version=3.4.0 

While the default SpamAssassin threshold for marking a message as spam is 5.0, few admins leave this default value. SpamAssassin itself recommends that admins of multiple user mail servers use a threshold of 8 to 10. I don't have this ISP's spamassassin.conf file, and its obviously been customized. My point here isn't to take issue with SpamAssassin, which I have used for many years, but to demonstrate how this message made its way to mailboxes through pretty solid security software despite these being included in the headers:

From: "Internal Revenue Service" <> 
Reply-To: "Internal Revenue Service" <>  
Return-Path: <>

Here's another depressing bonus. In addition to SpamAssassin, the recipient mail server had clamav installed. The message had a .ZIP file attachment, and the mail server's clamav install marked it as clean:

X-Virus-Scanned: clamav-milter 0.98.7 at
X-Virus-Status: Clean

The attachment does in fact have a javascript nasty-ware. And clamav is not alone in its failure to pick up the file. According to Virustotal, 31 out of 56 AV platforms failed to detect this file - including Symantec, TrendMicro, Panda, Malwarebytes, Avast and Avira. In defense of these AV heavyweights, the file used a single basic obfuscation function to disguise its purpose - which at the moment is apparently enough to fool these AV packages.

One round through Einar Lielmanis' JS Beautifier later, and we have this:

The script creates an EXE file in the %TEMP% directory - usually something like C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Local\Temp - that is named some random string, and fills it with a bunch of garbage that it retrieves from one of the three domain names listed:, or

There are a number of domains and hosts associated with this scam.

Malware domains
Domain IP Host Registrant Contact DNS IPs Consolidated Telcom Perfect Privacy, LLC N/A, / Bluehost / Unified Layer Dilhan Seneviratne, / Peer 1 Network / Cogeco John Huisman / Camping Beau Rivag,

Spam domains
Domain IP Host Email Provider Contact DNS IPs Amazon EC2 Gmail,,, The Planet N/A,,, Digital Ocean N/A,,,

Taking a look at the hosts involved in this scam provides even further disappointment., whose email is managed by Gmail, is providing the return-path for the spam messages but not the reply-to. Replies, incredibly, go directly to the IRS support email address. The reply-to header is commonly forged so that backscatter goes to some random sucker. In this case, is affiliated with the sender domain

Updated Date: 2014-11-24T05:21:07Z
Creation Date: 2006-11-23T19:31:19Z
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2015-11-23T19:31:19Z
Registrar: PDR Ltd. d/b/a
Registrar IANA ID: 303
Registrant Name: Netspaceindia
Registrant Organization: Netspaceindia
Registrant Street: Hall no 3, Wing B, Parshuram apt Above Woodlands Showroom College Road Nashik
Registrant City: Nashik
Registrant State/Province: Maharashtra
Registrant Postal Code: 422005
Registrant Country: IN
Registrant Phone: +91.9975444464
Registrant Email:
Name Server:
Name Server:
Name Server:
Name Server:

In other words, in many circumstances backscatter recipients are innocent victims. That is not the case here - the sender is managing the backscatter recipient address, likely to keep their mailing lists updated. As such, Google could play a role in putting a stop to this scam - a review of the backscatter would make the relationship between sender and backscatter recipient obvious, and in an ideal world would precipitate the suspension of the Google Apps account for "".

To be fair, Google's responsibility here is minimal - particularly when compared to the role that every other hosting provider plays in this. The Planet and Digital Ocean are providing the infrastructure for the spam campaign, while Bluehost, Cogeco and Consolidated Telcom are providing the infrastructure for hosting the malware. Its likely that the accounts for these providers were created using fraudulent/stolen payment information, or legitimate accounts were compromised. This sort of thing is an everyday occurrence for hosting providers; for providers who do not invest in abuse response, these types of scams can use the same accounts with the same hosting providers for months if not years. When I come across this sort of scam, I do my best to inform the hosting providers involved using the abuse contact information that is required to be associated with IP/DNS registrations, along with enough evidence for the provider to confirm Im not a nut. It is unusual to receive a response and even more unusual to receive a non-automated response. It is just as unusual for hosting provider staff to review their abuse@ contacts, let alone resolve the issues they receive.

Hemming and hawing over the need for state intervention to prevent "cyber-attacks" (vomit) and scams like the ones described here are all over the place. Many of those who support such a view make it a point to justify government intervention because of the incredible sophistication and technical complexity of the scams that plague internet users. However, the overwhelming volume of the scams I have encountered over the course of my career involved well known techniques and software. There is significant room for improvement in security practices with applying what we already know: like how to prevent (or rapidly stop) a 30 year old scam using 20 year old spam techniques to circulate 10 year old malware.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Assigning multiple IP addresses to a single Amazon EC2 instance on a single ENI

UPDATE March 1st, 2017: I'm glad to see that people are finding this helpful, and thanks to everyone that has contacted me here or via email. Just to be clear, though, the script on GitHub works much better than what I describe here in this post. The idea for this post was to describe the basics of how to get IP aliasing working in EC2 w/out using Amazon's weirdo linux distro, and I wrote it about a while before I posted the script to GitHub. If you want functional code with step-by-step instructions, goto the aliaser GitHub repo. I just don't have the time to rewrite the post each time I (or someone else) has an update for the script. Also, if you have feature requests or feedback, it will be easier for me to get back to you on GitHub than here ... especially if you have something specific you want added or that doesn't work.

Also, just FYI, I added a systemd .service file to the script in the aliaser GitHub repo a year ago. IIRC its LFB compatible so should work in RedHat/CentOS & Debian/Ubuntu, but I've only tested in using CentOS atm. I'm using Debian now a lot more than I was a year ago, so I should be able to test it out using Deb soon.

For those who are still using init.d for whatever reason, drop the .service file & use either `chkconfig -add` (for RedHat) or update-rc (for Debian). I know originally in this post I was saying I was going to be Mr Helpful with this kind of thing, but I don't have a ton of free time ATM, and there are mountains of documentation on how to run a script at boot time with init. I don't have any problem with init, I just haven't used it very much lately.

UPDATE: I'm going to be building out pretty much everything I describe here for fixing IP aliasing, multiple IPs and other networking issues with Amazon EC2 with a program called Aliaser which is available on GitHub. All the functionality described below already works in Aliaser; I will be extending Debian/Ubuntu support and systemd service compatibility within the next day or two. If someone really needs this functionality now let me know and I can fast track it if you're nice.

There are many ways to add additional IP addresses to EC2 in support of various types of projects. And the documentation is pretty good when you want to add additional Elastic Network Interfaces (ENI) or if you are using an Amazon Linux AMI that provides support for ec2-net-utils and/or if you are planning on multihoming/load balancing.

I recently needed to do something much more simple than is typically provided for in the documentation. I had a single Amazon EC2 instance running Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 (RHEL) and I wanted to add a second public IP address to it. Furthermore I wanted to do it in the most straight-forward way: without adding an additional ENI - which is the equivalent of adding a secondary physical network interface - which would require me to make additions to my routing table I didn't want to bother with. For test cases, think of adding several SSL certificates or a shared hosting web server - several IPs, one subnet, easy.

Unfortunately things are a bit more complex with EC2.

There are good reasons for this additional complexity. For one, NAT has to be a part of this picture because EC2 depends on it for a whole host of reasons; to be able to keep you IP (almost) immediately consistent across multiple virtual machines, for load balancing, for fail over, and many other reasons too exciting to spend time on here. For my use case, this meant I had to configure a new private IP address to go with my public IP address.

The second reason for the extra complexity is that EC2 depends on DHCP (which, in turn, is required for all the reasons we just briefly outlined). Assignment of a static IP address for your primary network interface in EC2 is a big no-no. I haven't taken a look lately but if my memory is correct on a reboot the cloud-init scripts that come pre-packaged in standard Amazon EMI's will blow out static assignments and replace them with DHCP. Needless to say I didn't want to really get into the nitty-gritty of Amazon's network architecture.

I just wanted a damn second IP address.

Typically with Linux the solution to adding multiple IP addresses to the same interface is really quite straight-forward; particularly when you are assigning those IP addresses within the same subnet. The method is called IP aliasing, and involves the creation of "virtual" network interfaces by adding one or more network initialization scripts. In RHEL, those scripts are stored in a series of files within /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ (in Ubuntu they are stored in a single /etc/network/interfaces file - but this walkthrough is focused on RHEL because there is already documentation for Ubuntu).

In this scenario, to add additional IPs to my existing NIC, I would just copy the network-script for my NIC - which by default would be /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0 - to a new file that prependeds ":0" to the end of the file name, like this:

#cp /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0 /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0:0

Additional IPs can be added simply by incrementing the last digit (ifcfg-eth0:1, ifcfg-eth0:2, ifcfg-eth0:3, etc).

I would have to make some changes inside the new file itself as well. Let's say this was the content of my eth0 file:

Copying it with 'cp' as outlined above would give me a duplicate of this file, but to get it working I would need to change the DEVICE and IPADDR fields to indicate the new IP. The DEVICE field should match the file name assigned to the configuration file, which also indicates the name of the virtual interface. In this example, it would be eth0:0. I also need to change the IPADDR to indicate the new IP I want - let's say I want it to be in this scenario. So this is what the new file would look like:


Once that is set up, I should test the new interface by trying to activate it individually using the "ifup" command:

#ifup eth0:0

If it works without issue, I'm all set. If errors occur, I should start troubleshooting. Alternatively, restarting the network service would also raise the interface:

#service network restart

or if you are using systemd instead of init:

#systemctl restart network.service

I could change this behavior by setting the ONBOOT flag to "no" within the configuration file.

Anyway - this is all pretty easy right? IP aliasing! Anyone can do it!

Here's the problem - none of this works with EC2. It doesn't work with EC2 because, as we mentioned, ENIs must be configured to use DHCP. This is what /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0 typically looks like in EC2:


Unfortunately, it is impossible to use IP aliasing with a primary network interface that is configured to use DHCP. Here is how CentOS puts it in their documentation:

Josh Wieder IP Alias DHCP conflict

Trying to configure an Alias will result in an error as soon as the interface attempts to load. So don't even bother.

Before I provide the solution for dealing with this routing issue, let's make sure you can jump through the hoops you need to do with Amazon itself.

Log into your EC2 console, and select Instances. Right click the instance you would like to add an IP to, select Networking and then Manage Private IP Addresses.

Amazon EC2 add private IP Joshua Wieder

A new menu will pop up. Click Assign New IP and enter the Private IP address that you wish to select. This IP should be within the subnet already assigned to your primary interface - which shouldn't be a problem, because by default it is a /20. You will not select your Public IP here, so just click Yes, Update once you have entered your Private IP.

Next we will be selecting Elastic IPs from the Network & Security group on the left menu column. From the Elastic IP menu, select Actions and Allocate New Address.

Your new public Elastic IP (EIP) will appear in the menu. Highlight the radio button next to the new EIP, go to Actions again and this time select Associate Address to launch the menu in the image below.

It is very important that you select a Network interface and not an instance in this menu. Selecting an instance will replace your pre-existing EIP with your new EIP instead of adding onto it!

If you only have one Instance with one ENI, than only one Network Interface will appear here. If you have multiple Instances be sure that you select the correct Network Interface. You can see which interfaces are assigned to which instances in the Instance menu.

Once you select a Network interface you will be able to select the Private IP Address that you assigned earlier. One you select it, click the blue Associate button (leave the Reassociation checkbox blank).

With all of that done, you should be able to see the association between your new public and private IPs in the Elastic IPs menu. However, if you try to ping your public IP from out of the network, or even ping the private IP locally from your instance, you will get timeouts. Let's resolve this by returning to the routing issue we discussed earlier.

From your user's home directory, create a file and add the following text using your favorite editor:

#add routes for secondary IP addresses
MAC_ADDR=$(ifconfig eth0 | sed -n 's/.*ether \([a-f0-9:]*\).*/\1/p')
for ip in ${IP[@]:1}; do
    echo "Adding IP: $ip"
    ip addr add dev eth0 $ip/20

This script was modified from a script prepared by Jurian for Ubuntu in order to work on Red Hat systems. It is easily modified to work with other Linux flavors and non-default networking configurations by modifying the MAC_ADDR line to replace "ifconfig" with the distro-appropriate command to find a MAC address for a given interface, "eth0" with the name of the primary interface (for example eth1), and "ether" with the name of the label for the MAC address field returned by the command indicated in my version as "ifconfig".

For use cases that involve an interface other than eth0, or a private subnet allocation other than the EC2 default /20, this second to last line will need to be changed as well:

ip addr add dev eth0 $ip/20

For example, let's say I am using an Ubuntu system and wish to add a secondary IP address to an interface named eth2, and I am using a non-default private subnet that is a single class C (/24). I would use this script instead:

#add routes for secondary IP addresses
MAC_ADDR=$(ifconfig eth2 | sed -n 's/.*HWaddr \([a-f0-9:]*\).*/\1/p')
for ip in ${IP[@]:1}; do
  echo "Adding IP: $ip"
  ip addr add dev eth2 $ip/24

Notice the curl command pulling from the 169.* IP address? That is how we call EC2 Instance Metadata and User Data. Using the Instance Data API is incredibly useful for being able to pull information about your instance in situations like ours where statically storing that data is either impossible or inconvenient.

Save the file and add an executable bit. I named by file "ip-script.bash", so to add an executable bit I performed this command from the same directory as the script:

#chmod+x ip-script.bash

I can then execute the script in order to complete the routing configuration for the new secondary IP (NOTE this script will handle multiple secondary IP addresses):

# ./ip-script.bash
 % Total  % Received % Xferd Average Speed  Time  Time   Time Current
                Dload Upload  Total  Spent  Left Speed
100  25 100  25  0   0 24582   0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:-- 25000
Adding IP:

If successful, you should now be able to ping the public IP from outside your Instance and receive a response (provided your firewall and EC2 Security Group policies allow ICMP traffic from the source of the ping). Alternatively, you could use the following commands to confirm everything is as it should be.

This command will return the public IP bound to the private IP provided in the privateipaddress field below. If this command times out or produces an error, something has gone wrong:

# curl --interface privateipaddress

You will also want to check your routing table:

# route -n

If this method has been performed exactly as described in this walkthrough - on an instance with a single ENI and a single private IP subnet allocation, but with multiple public and private IPs, then your routing table should look something like this:

# route -n
Kernel IP routing table
Destination   Gateway     Genmask     Flags Metric Ref  Use Iface        UG  100    0    0  eth0   U    0     0    0  eth0

One of the more common mistakes is to use a different netmask when assigning the secondary private IP address, even though that secondary private IP is part of the existing private IP allocation. When that occurs, it would look something like this (in this example, the user put a /24 netmask on the secondary private IP instead of the correct /20):

# route -n
Kernel IP routing table
Destination   Gateway     Genmask     Flags Metric Ref  Use Iface        UG  100    0    0  eth0   U    0     0    0  eth0   U    0     0    0  eth0

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Amazon EC2 Connectivity Failures - 10/4/2014

I have seen indications of periodic connectivity issues impacting Amazon's EC2 Cloud Computing architecture. Personally, I have encountered issues with connecting to Amazon's Yum repository hosts from EC2 instances.

Amazon has published Outage notifications of brief connectivity and DNS failures impacting US-EAST-1 Availability zone between October 2nd and October 4th. However, my EC2 instances are within the US-WEST-2 Availability zone and I am experiencing issues today, October 4th 2014 at approximately 11:30 AM EST.

For example:

# yum provides seinfo
Loaded plugins: amazon-id, rhui-lb

epel/x86_64/filelists_db                                        | 4.7 MB  00:00:01
rhui-REGION-rhel-server-optional/7Server/x86_64/filelists_db    | 3.2 MB  00:00:00 [Errno 14] HTTPS Error 404 - Not Found

Trying other mirror. [Errno 14] HTTPS Error 404 - Not Found

Then, 5 minutes later, with absolutely no changes to my server's network or yum configuration:

# host has address

# yum provides seinfo
Loaded plugins: amazon-id, rhui-lb
setools-console-3.3.7-46.el7.x86_64 : Policy analysis command-line tools for SELinux
Repo        : rhui-REGION-rhel-server-releases
Matched from:
Filename    : /usr/bin/seinfo

I find this extremely frustrating. With my small presence on EC2, I have no ability to troubleshoot what is causing these issues. However, I can confirm that there *are* issues as of today, that Amazon has been aware of connectivity and DNS failures for at least two days, and that Amazon is currently claiming that there are no issues.

This is quickly becoming the industry-standard mode of behavior for Cloud computing providers: wild-eyed, outlandish promises of perfect availability followed by regular connectivity failures that are haphazardly brushed under the rug.

Customers are owed transparency. I remain convinced that the only way to accomplish reliability is by "doing it yourself" and colocating servers in multiple datacenters, implementing and managing redundancy directly. The issue is too important to trust to hosting providers who have consistently demonstrated dishonesty.

See for yourself the almost invisible notice Amazon has posted to customers on their Service Health Dashboard:

Amazon EC2 Buries Connectivity Failure Notifications
Downtime? What Downtime?

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