Archive | October 2014

Configuring a Free Always On IRC Client

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) has been around for a long time now. It’s a protocol for group chat on a client/server network model. What’s important is that it’s the de facto standard for communication among┬áthe Grey Hat Group, the cybersecurity interest group I’m in at school.

In my Army days, I actually spent a large portion of my deployment on IRC. I communicated with different units and coordinated missions using mIRC, a proprietary Windows-only client. mIRC is responsible for creating the infamous “trout slap.” At home I was using XChat for a while. It’s cross-platform, it’s (kinda) free, and it was bundled with at least one of my Ubuntu installs. It worked well enough, but it’s become abandonware over the past few years. I then moved to HexChat, a truly free and actively maintained fork of XChat.

All of these clients are functional. I can connect to a server, join a channel with any of the above, and start chatting without a hiccup with any one of them. The problem arises when I invariably shutdown my laptop or it loses network connectivity. We use IRC because we want to be able to talk to each other in real time, and I don’t want to miss a thing. If my IRC client goes offline, then I miss out on the conversation. I also lose operator status on the channels I help maintain. (We don’t have services, not my fault.)

Nowadays I’ve moved my IRC client to a remote server from Amazon Web Services. AWS is a collection of remote computing resources. Since my server is always running, my client is always running. I just connect to the server from wherever I am to jump back into chat. I’m going to run through how to get a free EC2 instance, install a good IRC client, and access it remotely. Read More…

The Grey Hat Group Manifesto

Grey Hat Group

What follows is a piece I wrote for the Grey Hat Group, a cybersecurity group I help run on campus. We have had an unexpected flood of new members this year and I wrote this to help the newcomers find their place. Read More…