Candidates should know how to review system configuration to ensure host security in accordance with local security policies.
Key Knowledge Areas
- Audit a system to find files with the suid/sgid bit set.
- Set or change user passwords and password aging information.
- Being able to use nmap and netstat to discover open ports on a system.
- Set up limits on user logins, processes and memory usage.
- Determine which users have logged in to the system or are currently logged in.
- Basic sudo configuration and usage.
Terms and Utilities
who, w, last
su in practically all the chapters and now is the time to have a closer look!
su switches you to some other account; a "substitute user identity". You get a new prompt with the new user account after successfully
suing to that account:
jadi@funlife ~$ whoami jadi jadi@funlife ~$ su - Password: root@funlife:~# whoami root root@funlife:~# su jadi - jadi@funlife /root$ whoami jadi jadi@funlife /root$ exit exit root@funlife:~# whoami root root@funlife:~# exit logout jadi@funlife ~$ whoami jadi jadi@funlife ~$
Note that when running
su you have to provide the root password to become root; or any other users password to become that user!
On the other hand, sudo asks for your own password and runs the command you gave it, with the root privileges. So
sudo ls runs the ls command with the root privileges after asking for your password. Obviously you should have the sudo right to issue sudo. This is defined in
$ sudo cat /etc/sudoers # # This file MUST be edited with the 'visudo' command as root. # # Please consider adding local content in /etc/sudoers.d/ instead of # directly modifying this file. # # See the man page for details on how to write a sudoers file. # Defaults env_reset Defaults mail_badpass Defaults secure_path="/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin" # Host alias specification # User alias specification # Cmnd alias specification # User privilege specification root ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL # Members of the admin group may gain root privileges %admin ALL=(ALL) ALL # Allow members of group sudo to execute any command %sudo ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL # See sudoers(5) for more information on "#include" directives: #includedir /etc/sudoers.d
Note the 2 important lines:
- How root gets the right to run all the commands:
root ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL
- And how the sudo and admin groups get rights to run commands as root:
# Members of the admin group may gain root privileges
%admin ALL=(ALL) ALL
# Allow members of group sudo to execute any command %sudo ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL ```
ALL:ALL means these users can run as any user and any group. The last ALL tells the sudo that these users/groups can run ALL commands. It is possible to put
/bin/ping in the last part to tell sudo that this user can run only ping as root, Like below:
username ALL=(ALL) /bin/ping
The /etc/sudoers file is very important and breaking it will make major problems. to prevent you from adding un-interpretable lines in that file, the
visudocommand should be used instead of
vi /etc/sudoers. This tool will check your edits to make sure that sudo command can understand them.
Now we know what
sudo su - means. The sudo tells the system to run the
su - command with the root access. It asks your password and runs the
su - as the root if you have sudo access. The
su commands changes your user to root and
- switch load the root environment variables. This way you can become root using your own password via running
checking the users in the system
If you need to check who is in your system (and to some extend what they are doing) you can use these commands:
$ w 22:03:37 up 3 days, 5:33, 13 users, load average: 1.48, 1.12, 1.19 USER TTY FROM LOGIN@ IDLE JCPU PCPU WHAT jadi tty7 :0 Wed16 3days 2:30m 1.96s /sbin/upstart --user jadi pts/18 :0 Wed16 3:04m 1:02 1:02 /usr/bin/python manage.py runserver 0.0.0.0:8000 jadi pts/19 :0 Wed16 1:11m 0.35s 0.35s /bin/bash root tty2 Wed16 3days 0.07s 0.03s -bash jadi pts/21 :0 08:41 45:37 0.06s 0.06s /bin/bash jadi pts/23 :0 Thu11 46:49 0.25s 0.23s ssh startups jadi pts/21 funlife Fri22 45:37 0.06s 0.06s /bin/bash jadi pts/25 :0 10:17 31:37 0.07s 5.81s /usr/bin/python /usr/bin/x-terminal-emulator jadi pts/26 :0 21:39 0.00s 0.07s 0.00s w jadi pts/27 :0 21:55 8:09 0.01s 0.01s /bin/bash
You have a line for each logged in users (every single shell window is a separated login).
Another useful command is
who. Lets check it:
$ who jadi tty7 2016-06-01 16:30 (:0) jadi pts/17 2016-06-01 16:30 (funlife) jadi pts/2 2016-06-01 16:32 (:0) jadi pts/18 2016-06-01 16:32 (:0) jadi pts/19 2016-06-01 16:33 (:0) root tty2 2016-06-01 16:36 jadi pts/21 2016-06-04 08:41 (:0) jadi pts/22 2016-06-01 18:37 (funlife) jadi pts/23 2016-06-02 11:41 (:0) jadi pts/21 2016-06-03 22:22 (funlife) jadi pts/25 2016-06-04 10:17 (:0) jadi pts/26 2016-06-04 21:39 (:0) jadi pts/27 2016-06-04 21:55 (:0)
As you can see both these commands tell you when was the time that the user logged into the system but does not show the logged out people (because they are not on the system anymore!). If you need that data use the
~$ last | head jadi pts/27 :0 Sat Jun 4 21:55 gone - no logout jadi pts/26 :0 Sat Jun 4 21:39 gone - no logout jadi pts/26 :0 Sat Jun 4 18:55 - 19:42 (00:46) jadi pts/25 :0 Sat Jun 4 10:17 gone - no logout jadi pts/26 :0 Sat Jun 4 09:25 - 09:26 (00:00) jadi pts/26 :0 Sat Jun 4 09:25 - 09:25 (00:00) jadi pts/25 :0 Sat Jun 4 08:52 - 09:27 (00:35) jadi pts/21 :0 Sat Jun 4 08:41 gone - no logout jadi pts/21 funlife Fri Jun 3 22:22 - 08:41 (10:18) jadi pts/21 :0 Fri Jun 3 18:44 - 19:47 (01:03)
there is a way to check the failed logins too:
last -f /var/log/btmp
passwd command is used to update / change the password of the users.
➜ passwd Changing password for jadi. Current password: New password: Retype new password: passwd: password updated successfully ➜ sudo passwd jadi New password: BAD PASSWORD: The password is shorter than 8 characters Retype new password: passwd: password updated successfully
You can also use this command to check the status of a user:
➜ ~ passwd -S jadi P 2023-09-14 0 99999 7 -1
It says my user is jadi, I have a valid Password (could have been Locked or NP for no password), my last password change time, minimum and maximum age of my password, warning period before password expiry & allowed password inactivity in days. The
passwd command can also be used to
-l) a user,
-e) a user or
-u) a user.
As you've already see in the user management section, to change the user shell, home, ... you should use the
But to properly check/change the password age and configurations of users, the
chage utility should be used. Run it with
➜ ~ chage -l jadi Last password change : Sep 14, 2023 Password expires : never Password inactive : never Account expires : never Minimum number of days between password change : 0 Maximum number of days between password change : 99999 Number of days of warning before password expires : 7
or without any switches for interactive mode:
➜ ~ chage jadi chage: Permission denied. ➜ ~ sudo chage jadi Changing the aging information for jadi Enter the new value, or press ENTER for the default Minimum Password Age : Maximum Password Age : Last Password Change (YYYY-MM-DD) [2023-09-14]: Password Expiration Warning : 3 Password Inactive [-1]: Account Expiration Date (YYYY-MM-DD) [-1]:
You can also use switches to directly change values. Say
-m for --mindays or
-M for --maxdays.
suid and guid
We've already covered
suid; In short, when the suid bit is set on an executable file, the user will run with the access level of the owner of the file (and not the runner). Have a look at the
➜ ~ type passwd passwd is /usr/bin/passwd ➜ ~ ls -ltrh /usr/bin/passwd -rwsr-xr-x 1 root root 63K Nov 23 2022 /usr/bin/passwd
s on the access rights part, will run the file using the owners (here its root) access; regardless of whom is running it. This is needed because the
passwd commands needs to be able to change the passwords in the shadow file even if a normal user runs it. But what happens if someone changes the suid of the vi command? let's see who owns the
jadi@funlife ~$ type vi vi is /usr/bin/vi jadi@funlife ~$ ls -ltrh /usr/bin/vi lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 20 Jun 1 12:52 /usr/bin/vi -> /etc/alternatives/vi
vi is owned by root, so if the suid bit is set, vi will always be run as root! In that case, anybody will be able to edit any file! So if you are a hacker and get a temporary root, its enough to copy vi somewhere (with a different unsuspicious name) and give it the
suid access. Now you will be able to run it with normal users and modify system files when needed! That's why a system admin should be able to check her systems executable files with
suid bit if needed:
$sudo find / -perm -u+s
-perm -u+s tells
find to search for file which has
user. For more info, check the
man find and search for
same applies for guid. if the guid is set, the file will be run with access of its group
The resources on a Linux machine can be managed for users by the
ulimit command. It is part of the PAM system. If you want to check the limits on the system run:
~$ ulimit -a core file size (blocks, -c) 0 data seg size (kbytes, -d) unlimited scheduling priority (-e) 0 file size (blocks, -f) unlimited pending signals (-i) 47457 max locked memory (kbytes, -l) 64 max memory size (kbytes, -m) unlimited open files (-n) 1024 pipe size (512 bytes, -p) 8 POSIX message queues (bytes, -q) 819200 real-time priority (-r) 0 stack size (kbytes, -s) 8192 cpu time (seconds, -t) unlimited max user processes (-u) 47457 virtual memory (kbytes, -v) unlimited file locks (-x) unlimited
and you can change them like this:
$ ulimit -t 1
This will limit the CPU TIME of any process to 1 second. If you use more than that, the process will be killed automatically (by PAM module). Please note that your walls clock time is different than CPU time. To see how much CPU time a process uses run it like this:
$ time firefox
Changing the ulimit as we did is a temporary thing. It only persists in that specific shell.
To change the ulimits system-wide:
$ cat /etc/security/limits.conf # /etc/security/limits.conf # #Each line describes a limit for a user in the form: # #<domain> <type> <item> <value> # #Where: #<domain> can be: # - a user name # - a group name, with @group syntax # - the wildcard *, for default entry # - the wildcard %, can be also used with %group syntax, # for maxlogin limit # - NOTE: group and wildcard limits are not applied to root. # To apply a limit to the root user, <domain> must be # the literal username root. # #<type> can have the two values: # - "soft" for enforcing the soft limits # - "hard" for enforcing hard limits # #<item> can be one of the following: # - core - limits the core file size (KB) # - data - max data size (KB) # - fsize - maximum filesize (KB) # - memlock - max locked-in-memory address space (KB) # - nofile - max number of open files # - rss - max resident set size (KB) # - stack - max stack size (KB) # - cpu - max CPU time (MIN) # - nproc - max number of processes # - as - address space limit (KB) # - maxlogins - max number of logins for this user # - maxsyslogins - max number of logins on the system # - priority - the priority to run user process with # - locks - max number of file locks the user can hold # - sigpending - max number of pending signals # - msgqueue - max memory used by POSIX message queues (bytes) # - nice - max nice priority allowed to raise to values: [-20, 19] # - rtprio - max realtime priority # - chroot - change root to directory (Debian-specific) # #<domain> <type> <item> <value> # #* soft core 0 #root hard core 100000 #* hard rss 10000 #@student hard nproc 20 #@faculty soft nproc 20 #@faculty hard nproc 50 #ftp hard nproc 0 #ftp - chroot /ftp #@student - maxlogins 4 # End of file
soft limits can be changed by the user but hard limits are the real stop points.
netstat, fuser and lsof
On module 109.1 we talked about ports. Ports are like wholes in our systems used by programs to listen to the outside world. If I'm running a web server on my computer I should have a port open so people can ask that server "please show me your index.html". Many malwares open ports to let the attacker to communicate with them. It is important to check your computer for open ports time to time. The older command for this is the
netstat; using the
-tuna switch.. I'm sure tuna is easy to remember if you have every enjoyed a tuna sandwich.
jadi@funlife ~$ netstat -tuna Active Internet connections (servers and established) Proto Recv-Q Send-Q Local Address Foreign Address State tcp 0 0 127.0.0.1:3306 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN tcp 0 0 0.0.0.0:80 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN tcp 0 0 127.0.1.1:53 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN tcp 0 0 127.0.0.1:9050 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN tcp 25 0 192.168.59.9:49934 192.168.59.192:139 CLOSE_WAIT tcp 0 0 127.0.0.1:60228 127.0.0.1:1080 ESTABLISHED tcp 0 0 192.168.1.35:55324 126.96.36.199:8385 ESTABLISHED tcp 0 0 127.0.0.1:59590 127.0.0.1:1080 ESTABLISHED tcp 0 0 127.0.0.1:60212 127.0.0.1:1080 ESTABLISHED tcp 0 0 192.168.1.35:54220 188.8.131.52:8385 ESTABLISHED tcp 0 0 127.0.0.1:57186 127.0.0.1:1080 ESTABLISHED tcp 0 0 192.168.1.35:49574 184.108.40.206:443 ESTABLISHED tcp 0 0 127.0.0.1:59002 127.0.0.1:1080 ESTABLISHED udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:54502 0.0.0.0:* udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:5353 0.0.0.0:* udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:5353 0.0.0.0:*
LISTEN ports are servers; they are LISTENING for new incoming connections. The
ESTABLISHED connections are the active connections between your computer and another computer. In these tables
0.0.0.0 dictates any address or any interface.
Other useful tools are
ss for the same purpose as you saw on chapter 109 and
lsof is already discussed in previous sections. It shows the open files on the system and having in mind that everything in Linux is a file or a process you can conclude that this command should be able to display open connections too; and you are right:
# lsof -i COMMAND PID USER FD TYPE DEVICE SIZE/OFF NODE NAME privoxy 806 privoxy 4u IPv4 16130 0t0 TCP funlife:8118 (LISTEN) cups-brow 903 root 8u IPv4 17477 0t0 UDP *:ipp mysqld 971 mysql 19u IPv4 20875 0t0 TCP funlife:mysql (LISTEN) tor 1038 debian-tor 6u IPv4 19155 0t0 TCP funlife:9050 (LISTEN) dnsmasq 1260 nobody 11u IPv4 1910037 0t0 UDP *:18666 adb 1278 jadi 5u IPv4 579541 0t0 TCP funlife:5037 (LISTEN) chromium- 2891 jadi 88u IPv4 813611 0t0 TCP 192.168.1.35:45702->do-13.lastpass.com:https (ESTABLISHED) chromium- 2891 jadi 126u IPv4 1907389 0t0 TCP 192.168.1.35:50642->ntt-2.lastpass.com:https (ESTABLISHED) chromium- 2891 jadi 133u IPv4 1909733 0t0 TCP 192.168.1.35:50644->ntt-2.lastpass.com:https (ESTABLISHED) chromium- 2891 jadi 268u IPv4 785289 0t0 TCP 192.168.1.35:60736->lf-in-f188.1e100.net:5228 (ESTABLISHED) python 4925 jadi 4u IPv4 658287 0t0 TCP funlife:8000 (LISTEN) Telegram 4943 jadi 39u IPv4 773463 0t0 TCP 192.168.1.35:44732->220.127.116.11:https (ESTABLISHED) dhclient 9984 root 6u IPv4 787885 0t0 UDP *:bootpc nginx 11095 root 6u IPv4 17998 0t0 TCP *:http (LISTEN) nginx 11099 www-data 7u IPv6 17999 0t0 TCP *:http (LISTEN) chrome 14264 jadi 114u IPv4 788089 0t0 UDP *:mdns chrome 14264 jadi 126u IPv4 1872872 0t0 TCP funlife:60370->funlife:socks (ESTABLISHED) chrome 14264 jadi 138u IPv4 1908382 0t0 TCP funlife:60408->funlife:socks (ESTABLISHED)
Wow! This command shows the command, PID, user running it and source and destination IP and tells of if this is a LISTENING or STABLISHED connection.
If you want to check which process is using port 80, you can grep the output of any above commands or simply use the
fuser (file user; who uses this file) command to find all the PIDs related to that specific port. A common switch is
-v which goes verbose.
➜ bin sudo fuser 22/tcp -v USER PID ACCESS COMMAND 22/tcp: root 1 F.... systemd
nmap is the one of the hackers beloved tools! You can nmap a server to find out about a lot of data about that server:
# nmap localhost Starting Nmap 7.01 ( https://nmap.org ) at 2016-06-04 21:32 IRDT Nmap scan report for localhost (127.0.0.1) Host is up (0.0000070s latency). rDNS record for 127.0.0.1: funlife Not shown: 995 closed ports PORT STATE SERVICE 80/tcp open http 1080/tcp open socks 3306/tcp open mysql 8000/tcp open http-alt 9050/tcp open tor-socks Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 1.66 seconds root@funlife:~#
In the most basic form, nmap checks all the open ports from 1 to 1000 and prints the results. There are a lot of switches to find other information about the hosts and they are used by every single hacker who wants to examine a servers status.
|← 109.4 Configure client side DNS||110.2 Setup host security →|