Security Handbook/PAM

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Security Handbook
Pre-installation concerns
Bootloader security
Logging
Mounting partitions
User and group limitations
File permissions
PAM
TCP wrappers
Kernel security
Network security
Securing services
Chrooting and virtual servers
Firewalls
Intrusion detection
Staying up-to-date

This section is on further securing Pluggable Authentication Modules (PAM).

PAM is a suite of shared libraries that provide an alternative way providing user authentication in programs. The pam USE flag is turned on by default. Thus the PAM settings on Gentoo Linux are pretty reasonable, but there is always room for improvement.

First install sys-libs/cracklib to allow password policies to be set:

root #emerge --ask sys-libs/cracklib
FILE /etc/pam.d/passwd
auth     required pam_unix.so shadow nullok
account  required pam_unix.so
password required pam_cracklib.so difok=3 retry=3 minlen=8 dcredit=-2 ocredit=-2
password required pam_unix.so md5 use_authtok
session  required pam_unix.so

This will add the cracklib which will ensure that the user passwords are at least 8 characters and contain a minimum of 2 digits, 2 other characters, and are more than 3 characters different from the last password. Check the PAM cracklib documentation for more options.

FILE /etc/pam.d/sshd
auth     required pam_unix.so nullok
auth     required pam_shells.so
auth     required pam_nologin.so
auth     required pam_env.so
account  required pam_unix.so
password required pam_cracklib.so difok=3 retry=3 minlen=8 dcredit=-2 ocredit=-2 use_authtok
password required pam_unix.so shadow md5
session  required pam_unix.so
session  required pam_limits.so

Every service not configured with a PAM file in /etc/pam.d will use the rules in /etc/pam.d/other. The defaults are set to deny, as they should be.

Also, pam_warn.so can be added to generate more elaborate logging. And pam_limits can be used, which is controlled by /etc/security/limits.conf. See the /etc/security/limits.conf section for more on these settings.

FILE /etc/pam.d/other
auth     required pam_deny.so
auth     required pam_warn.so
account  required pam_deny.so
account  required pam_warn.so
password required pam_deny.so
password required pam_warn.so
session  required pam_deny.so
session  required pam_warn.so

See also