Poor Man's Dynamic DNS -- Take 2!

Published: August 4, 2016 · Previous · Next

Recently I have written about how to create a "poor man's dyndns" service using the global discovery system of Syncthing. Since there have been changes in the global discovery system, my awesome shell script did not work any more... I just decided to rewrite the whole crap in Python (and Norbert helped a lot!).

The repository is located on Github; as usual I will explain the current code using the awesome asciidoctor features. The code is extracted from commit c6454a6; it is not completely polished, but everything works. So time for a blog post!

#!/usr/bin/env python3

import argparse
import base64
import logging
import shlex
import ssl
import sys
from hashlib import sha256
from subprocess import run

import requests

# We do the pinning ourselves; we don't need a monkey
# who warns us all the time that we are not safe...
# http://stackoverflow.com/a/28002687
from requests.packages.urllib3.exceptions import InsecureRequestWarning  # <1>

# fingerprint pinning to host
pinning = (  # <2>

def _luhn_mod_sum(s):  # <3>
    # https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luhn_mod_N_algorithm
    n = len(a)
    factor = 1
    k = 0
    for i in s:
        addend = factor * a.index(i)
        factor = 1 if factor == 2 else 2
        addend = (addend // n) + (addend % n)
        k += addend
    remainder = k % n
    check_codepoint = (n - remainder) % n
    return a[check_codepoint]

def _chunk_str(s, chunk_size):  # <4>
    return [s[i:i+chunk_size] for i in range(0, len(s), chunk_size)]

def _hash_cert_bin(cert):  # <5>
    v = ssl.PEM_cert_to_DER_cert(cert)
    return sha256(v).digest()

def _hash_cert_file(path):  # <6>
    logging.debug('Reading certificate: {}'.format(path))
    with open(path) as f:
        return _hash_cert_bin(f.read())

def calc_device_id(barray):  # <7>
    s = ''.join([chr(a) for a in base64.b32encode(barray)][:52])
    c = _chunk_str(s, 13)
    k = ''.join(['%s%s' % (cc, _luhn_mod_sum(cc)) for cc in c])
    return '-'.join(_chunk_str(k, 7))

def verify_host(host, exp_fp):  # <8>
    cert = ssl.get_server_certificate((host, 443))
    fp = calc_device_id(_hash_cert_bin(cert))
    if fp == exp_fp:
        return True
    return False

# Commands
def cmd_announce(args):  # <9>
    cert = shlex.quote(args.cert)
    key = shlex.quote(args.key)

    logging.debug('Using certificate: {}'.format(cert))
    logging.debug('Using key: {}'.format(key))

    for mapping in pinning:
        disco_url = 'https://' + mapping[0] + '/v2/' + '?id=' + mapping[1]
        payload = {'addresses': ['tcp://:12345']}  # <10>

            if verify_host(*mapping) is False:
                raise RuntimeError

            r = requests.post(  # <11>
                cert=(cert, key),

        # requests does logging through the enabled logging module
        except OSError:
        except requests.exceptions.ConnectionError:

        if r.status_code != 204:
            logging.info('Announce failed')

def cmd_request(args):  # <12>
    device_id = calc_device_id(_hash_cert_file(args.cert))
    request_url = 'https://announce.syncthing.net/v2/'

    # FIXME: Use urljoin and friends here.
    r = requests.get(request_url + '?device=' + device_id, verify=False)
    if r.status_code != 200:
        logging.info('No device found!')

    ip = r.text.split(':')[5].rsplit('/')[2]

def cmd_gencert(args):  # <13>

def cmd_fingerprint(args):  # <14>
    device_id = calc_device_id(_hash_cert_file(args.cert))

def logging_init(loglevel):  # <15>
    # From python docs. No magic stackoverflow involved. :)
    # https://docs.python.org/3/howto/logging.html#logging-to-a-file
    numeric_level = getattr(logging, loglevel.upper(), None)
    if not isinstance(numeric_level, int):
        print('Invalid log level: "{}"'.format(loglevel))

        format='%(asctime)s %(levelname)s: %(message)s',

def parse_args():
    parser = argparse.ArgumentParser()
        help='Use this certificate [default: ./cert.pem]',
        help='Use this private key [default: ./key.pem]',
        help='CRITICAL, ERROR, WARNING [default], INFO, DEBUG'

    subparsers = parser.add_subparsers()
    parser_announce = subparsers.add_parser(
        help='Announce IP to the Syncthing discovery system',

    parser_request = subparsers.add_parser(
        help='Query the ip of a given device',

    parser_gencert = subparsers.add_parser(
        help='Generate a certificate',

    parser_fingerprint = subparsers.add_parser(
        help='Print the fingerprint of a given certificate',
        help='The path to the certificate file',

    return parser.parse_args()

def main():
    args = parse_args()
    logging.debug('Invoked with args: {}'.format(args))

    if hasattr(args, 'func'):

if __name__ == '__main__':
  1. This one was really annoying. requests prints a warning that we do a potentially insecure https request. I know that, BUT I do certificate pinning myself. So I am safe and I just wanted to get rid of the annoying warning.
  2. This is the hashtable, that maps discovery servers to their certificate id. Later in the code I download the certificate from the server and I check, whether it matches using the device ids (which is nothing more than a hash).
  3. Luhn mod N algorithm. Syncthing device IDs are explained in the official documentation. In general, it is SHA-256 hash of the certificate data in DER form plus check digits every 7 chars. This method implements the Luhn mod N algorithm.
  4. Divide a string into equal slices of N chars. It is needed in a few places in the code.
  5. Generate the SHA256 sum of a certificate in binary data.
  6. Generate the SHA256 sum of a cretificate, that is stored at the given filepath. I have chosen to devide that method into two separate methods, because this way it avoids code duplication within the source code.
  7. Convert the certificate into a Syncthing device id string according to the specs and utilizing the previously presented helper functions.
  8. That's the custom implementation of certificate pinning. Since the Syncthing device ids are based on a SHA256 hash, we can be sure that they are free of collisions. So, the device ids of the global discovery servers are stored in advance (since they are well known). When a connection to a discovery server is established, the fingerprint of the presented certificate is verified by converting it into a device id and comparing that value with the hard coded device ids in the code. When they match the discovery server is authenticated and can be trusted.
  9. The implementation of the announce command. That function is called by the command line interface code (= argparse).
  10. An actual fake payload. We have wasted hours of our lifetime by figuring out why our scripts do not work. The HTTP POST request to the announce servers indeed need a payload... So let's set the port to some value, e.g. 1234.
  11. That is the call to requests.post() that transfers the data to the announce server. Note that verify is False, as the custom verify_host() method is called directly before the HTTP POST call. When the host cannot be verified an error is raised.
  12. Implementation of the request command. It is still a bit ugly, but it works. It queries the discovery servers with a HTTP GET presenting a device id. A json response is given. When the device id was announced before, its current ip address is printed on stdout.
  13. A shortcut for the openssl utility to create a certificate.
  14. The implementation of fingerprint. The fingerprint of a given certificate file is computed and printed on stdout.
  15. Initialize logging; the most interesting part is that the requests module can use the logging as well. It emits log messages through the configured logger, which is nice!

See it in Action!

I have run the script in debug log level, in order to show what's going on.

Announce the certificate:

$ ./st-ddns.py -l debug announce
2016-08-04 17:29:25,244 DEBUG: Invoked with args: Namespace(cert='./cert.pem', func=<function cmd_announce at 0x7fdddcfa4950>, key='./key.pem', l='debug')
2016-08-04 17:29:25,244 DEBUG: Using certificate: ./cert.pem
2016-08-04 17:29:25,244 DEBUG: Using key: ./key.pem
2016-08-04 17:29:25,992 INFO: Starting new HTTPS connection (1): discovery-v4-1.syncthing.net
2016-08-04 17:29:27,063 DEBUG: "POST /v2/?id=SR7AARM-TCBUZ5O-VFAXY4D-CECGSDE-3Q6IZ4G-XG7AH75-OBIXJQV-QJ6NLQA HTTP/1.1" 204 0
2016-08-04 17:29:27,936 INFO: Starting new HTTPS connection (1): discovery-v4-2.syncthing.net
2016-08-04 17:29:29,170 DEBUG: "POST /v2/?id=DVU36WY-H3LVZHW-E6LLFRE-YAFN5EL-HILWRYP-OC2M47J-Z4PE62Y-ADIBDQC HTTP/1.1" 204 0
2016-08-04 17:29:30,496 INFO: Starting new HTTPS connection (1): discovery-v4-3.syncthing.net
2016-08-04 17:29:32,353 DEBUG: "POST /v2/?id=VK6HNJ3-VVMM66S-HRVWSCR-IXEHL2H-U4AQ4MW-UCPQBWX-J2L2UBK-NVZRDQZ HTTP/1.1" 204 0

Find out our fingerprint:

$ ./st-ddns.py fingerprint ./cert.pem

Query (from another device) the ip from the discovery servers:

$ ./st-ddns.py -l debug req 4EDVVKF-KPXXTJH-YHSIPVA-WVB4FFP-R3IV2IB-GJOOSQG-2P7WN24-RYS62Q3
2016-08-04 17:31:32,262 DEBUG: Invoked with args: Namespace(ID='4EDVVKF-KPXXTJH-YHSIPVA-WVB4FFP-R3IV2IB-GJOOSQG-2P7WN24-RYS62Q3', cert='./cert.pem', func=<function cmd_request at 0x7f6f68ecc9d8>, key='./key.pem', l='debug')
2016-08-04 17:31:32,262 DEBUG: Reading certificate: ./cert.pem
2016-08-04 17:31:32,265 INFO: Starting new HTTPS connection (1): announce.syncthing.net
2016-08-04 17:31:32,673 DEBUG: "GET /v2/?device=4EDVVKF-KPXXTJH-YHSIPVA-WVB4FFP-R3IV2IB-GJOOSQG-2P7WN24-RYS62Q3 HTTP/1.1" 200 81

TIP: Once announced, it takes a few minutes until the server answers with the correct ip.

It works again!