Security Handbook/Securing services

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Security Handbook
General Guidance
Boot Path Security
Information Security
Mounting partitions
User and group limitations
File permissions
Kernel security
Firewalls and Network Security
Securing services
Chrooting and virtual servers
Intrusion detection
Staying up-to-date

This section is on ensuring daemons are secure.

Console usage

The /etc/securetty file allows system administrators to specify which TTY (terminal) devices the root user can use to login.

It is suggested to comment out all lines except vc/1 on system using using devfs and all lines except tty1 when using udev. This will ensure the root user only can login once and only on one terminal.

Users in the group "wheel" can still su - to become root on other TTYs.
FILE /etc/securetty
# (For devfs)
# (For udev)


Apache comes with a pretty decent configuration file. From a security perspective, some things can be improved. Binding Apache to one network interface' IP address and preventing it from volunteering information are two steps that can be taken to harden Apache.

If the ssl USE flag was not disabled before emerging Apache the server should be SSL enabled. Inside the /etc/apache2/vhosts.d/ directory example configuration files can be found. These are working examples and it is best to verify or disable them.

It is important to define configuration(s) to listen to a particular IP address (rather than all available IP addresses on the system). For instance the 00_default_vhost.conf file:

FILE /etc/apache2/vhosts.d/00_default_vhost.conf
# Make it listen on a single network interface's IP address

We also recommend you to disable showing any information about your Apache installation to the world. By default, the configuration will add server version and virtual host name to server-generated pages. To disable this, change the ServerSignature variable to Off:

FILE /etc/apache2/vhosts.d/00_default_vhost.conf
ServerSignature Off

Apache is compiled with --enable-shared=max and --enable-module=all. This will by default enable all modules, so you should comment out all modules in the LoadModule section (LoadModule and AddModule) that you do not use in the main /etc/apache2/httpd.conf configuration file. When using OpenRC, restart the service by executing /etc/init.d/apache2 restart.

Documentation is available at


One can find Bind documentation at the The BIND 9 Administrator Reference Manual is also in the doc/arm.

The newer net-dns/bind BIND ebuilds support chrooting out of the box. After emerging bind follow the simple instructions.


Djbdns is a DNS implementation on the security of which its author is willing to bet money. It is very different from how Bind 9 works but worth a try. More information can be obtained from


Generally, using FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a bad idea. It uses unencrypted data (ie. passwords are sent in clear text), listens on 2 ports (normally port 20 and 21), and attackers are frequently looking for anonymous logins for trading warez. Since the FTP protocol contains several security problems you should instead use sftp or HTTP. If this is not possible, secure your services as well as you can and prepare yourself.


Proftpd has had several security problems, but most of them seem to have been fixed. Nonetheless, it is a good idea to apply some enhancements:

FILE /etc/proftpd/proftpd.conf
ServerName "My ftp daemon"
# Do not show the identity of the server
ServerIdent on "Go away"

# Makes it easier to create virtual users
RequireValidShell off

# Use alternative password and group file (passwd uses crypt format)
AuthUserFile "/etc/proftpd/passwd"
AuthGroupFile "/etc/proftpd/group"

# Permissions
Umask 077

# Timeouts and limitations
MaxInstances 30
MaxClients 10 "Only 10 connections allowed"
MaxClientsPerHost 1 "You have already logged on once"
MaxClientsPerUser 1 "You have already logged on once"
TimeoutStalled 10
TimeoutNoTransfer 20
TimeoutLogin 20

# Chroot everyone
DefaultRoot ~

# Do not run as root
User  nobody
Group nogroup

# Log every transfer
TransferLog /var/log/transferlog

# Problems with globbing
DenyFilter \*.*/

One can find documentation at


Pure-ftpd is an branch of the original trollftpd, modified for security reasons and functionality by Frank Dennis.

Use virtual users (never system accounts) by enabling the AUTH option. Set this to -lpuredb:/etc/pureftpd.pdb and create your users by using /usr/bin/pure-pw.

FILE /etc/conf.d/pure-ftpd

## Misc. Others ##
MISC_OTHER="-A -E -X -U 177:077 -d -4 -L100:5 -I 15"

Configure the MISC_OTHER setting to deny anonymous logins (-E), chroot everyone (-A), prevent users from reading or writing to files beginning with a . (dot) (-X), max idle time (-I), limit recursion (-L), and a reasonable umask value.

Warning: Do not use the -w or -W options! If you want to have a warez site, stop reading this guide!

One can find documentation at


Vsftpd (short for very secure ftp) is a small ftp daemon running a reasonably default configuration. It is simple and does not have as many features as pureftp and proftp.

FILE /etc/vsftpd

#read only

#enable logging of transfers




As you can see, there is no way for this service to have individual permissions, but when it comes to anonymous settings it is quite good. Sometimes it can be nice to have an anonymous ftp server (for sharing open source), and vsftpd does a really good job at this.


If you only need local applications to access the mysql database, uncomment the following line in /etc/mysql/my.cnf.

Disable network access:

FILE /etc/mysql/my.cnf

Then we disable the use of the LOAD DATA LOCAL INFILE command. This is to prevent against unauthorized reading from local files. This is relevant when new SQL Injection vulnerabilities in PHP applications are found.

Disable LOAD DATA LOCAL INFILE in the [mysqld] section:

FILE /etc/mysql/my.cnf

Next, we must remove the sample database (test) and all accounts except the local root account.

Removing sample database and all unnecessary users:

mysql>drop database test;
mysql>use mysql;
mysql>delete from db;
mysql>flush privileges;
Be careful with the above if you have already configured user accounts.
If you have been changing passwords from the MySQL prompt, you should always clean out ~/.mysql_history and /var/log/mysql/mysql.log as they store the executed SQL commands with passwords in clear text.


Netqmail is often considered to be a very secure mail server. It is written with security (and paranoia) in mind. It does not allow relaying by default and has not had a security hole since 1996. Simply emerge netqmail and go configure!


Samba is a protocol to share files with Microsoft/Novell networks and it should not be used over the Internet. Nonetheless, it still needs securing.

FILE /etc/samba/smb.conf
  # Bind to an interface
  interfaces = lo eth0
  # Only bind to listed interfaces 
  # (don't bind smbd to, make nmbd ignore martian broadcast sources) 
  bind interfaces only = yes

  # Make sure to use encrypted password
  encrypt passwords = yes
  directory security mask = 0700

  # allow traffic from 10.0.0.*
  hosts allow = 10.0.0.

  # Enables user authentication
  # (don't use the share mode)
  security = user

  # Disallow privileged accounts
  invalid users = root @wheel

  # Maximum size smb shows for a share (not a limit)
  max disk size = 102400

  # Uphold the password policy
  min password length = 8
  null passwords = no

  # Use PAM (if added support)
  obey pam restrictions = yes
  pam password change = yes

Make sure that permissions are set correct on every share and remember to read the documentation.

Now restart the server and add the users who should have access to this service. This is done though the command /usr/bin/smbpasswd with the parameter -a.


The most important securing that OpenSSH needs is turning on a stronger authentication based on public key encryption. Too many sites (like Sourceforge, PHP and Apache) have suffered unauthorized intrusion due to password leaks or bad passwords.

FILE /etc/ssh/sshd_config
# Do not enable DSA and ECDSA server authentication.
HostKey /etc/ssh/ssh_host_ed25519_key
HostKey /etc/ssh/ssh_host_rsa_key

# If you have a recent OpenSSH client disable weak ciphers and Message Authentication Code (MAC) by explicitly enabling stronger ciphers.
# check with ssh -Q cipher resp. ssh -Q mac which ciphers/ MACs are supported

# Disable root login. Users should be using su or sudo to obtain root permissions.
PermitRootLogin no

# Turn on Public key authentication
PubkeyAuthentication yes
AuthorizedKeysFile      .ssh/authorized_keys

# Disable .rhost and normal password authentication.
HostbasedAuthentication no
PasswordAuthentication no
PermitEmptyPasswords no

# Only allow users in the wheel or admin group to login via SSH.
AllowGroups wheel admin

# In the above 'AllowedGroups' directive only allow the following users.
# Note: the @<domainname> is optional but replaces the older AllowHosts directive.

# Logging
SyslogFacility AUTH
LogLevel INFO

# The ListenAddress directive should be changed to a single IP address

Also verify UsePAM yes is not in the configuration file; it overrides the public key authentication mechanism. Alternatively PasswordAuthentication or ChallengeResponseAuthentication directives can be disabled. More information about these options can be found in the sshd_config manual page (man 5 sshd_config).

Now all that users have to do is create SSH public/private key pairs and type in a passphrase with the following command:

root #ssh-keygen -t ed25519
Generating public/private ed25519 key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/home/larry/.ssh/id_ed25519):[Press enter]
Created directory '/home/larry/.ssh'.
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase): [Enter passphrase]
Enter same passphrase again: [Enter passphrase again]
Your identification has been saved in /home/larry/.ssh/id_ed25519.
Your public key has been saved in /home/larry/.ssh/
The key fingerprint is:
SHA256:UZwgOwzktPyblYRMZjKnaD0HizvtnX+qVnk4liaZewI larry@gentoo

This will add two files to the user's ~/.ssh/ directory called id_ed25519 and The file named id_ed25519 is the private key and should be accessible only to the user who created it. The other file is to be distributed to every remote server that requires SSH access. Add the key to the users home directory in the ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file and the user should be able to login. This action can be performed in one-shot by using the ssh-copy-id command:

user $ssh-copy-id larry@remote

Each user should guard their private key well. Put it on encrypted media that is easily accessible or keep it on their workstation (put this in the password policy).

For more information on SSH visit the OpenSSH website and the SSH article.

TCP wrappers

TCP wrappers are a way of controlling access to services normally run by inetd (which Gentoo does not have), but it can also be used by xinetd and other services.

The service should be executing tcpd in its server argument (in xinetd). See the chapter on xinetd for more information.
FILE /etc/hosts.deny
FILE /etc/hosts.allow
ALL: LOCAL @wheel
time: LOCAL,

As you can see the format is very similar to the one in /etc/security/access.conf. The tcpd facility supports a specific service; it does not overlap with /etc/security/access.conf. These settings only apply to services using TCP wrappers.

It is also possible to execute commands when a service is accessed (this can be used when activating relaying for dial-in users) but it is not recommended, since people tend to create more problems than they are trying to solve. An example could be that you configure a script to send an e-mail every time someone hits the deny rule, but then an attacker could launch a DoS attack by keep hitting the deny rule. This will create a lot of I/O and e-mails so don't do it!. Read the man 5 hosts_access for more information.

Using xinetd

xinetd (sys-apps/xinetd) is a replacement for inetd (which Gentoo does not have), the Internet services daemon. It supports access control based on the address of the remote host and the time of access. It also provide extensive logging capabilities, including server start time, remote host address, remote user name, server run time, and actions requested.

As with all other services it is important to have a good default configuration. But since xinetd is run as root and supports protocols that you might not know how they work, we recommend not to use it. But if you want to use it anyway, here is how you can add some security to it:

root #emerge --ask sys-apps/xinetd sys-apps/tcp-wrappers

And edit the configuration file:

FILE /etc/xinetd.conf
 only_from = localhost
 instances = 10
 log_type = SYSLOG authpriv info
 log_on_success = HOST PID
 log_on_failure = HOST
 cps = 25 30

# This will setup pserver (cvs) via xinetd with the following settings:
# max 10 instances (10 connections at a time)
# limit the pserver to tcp only
# use the user cvs to run this service
# bind the interfaces to only 1 ip
# allow access from 10.0.0.*
# limit the time developers can use cvs from 8am to 5pm
# use tpcd wrappers (access control controlled in
# /etc/hosts.allow and /etc/hosts.deny)
# max_load on the machine set to 1.0
# The disable flag is per default set to no but I like having
# it in case of it should be disabled
service cvspserver
 socket_type = stream
 protocol = tcp
 instances = 10
 protocol = tcp
 wait = no
 user = cvs
 bind =
 only_from =
 access_times = 8:00-17:00
 server = /usr/sbin/tcpd
 server_args = /usr/bin/cvs --allow-root=/mnt/cvsdisk/cvsroot pserver
 max_load = 1.0
 log_on_failure += RECORD
 disable = no

For more information read man 5 xinetd.conf.


By default Xorg is configured to act as an X server. This can be dangerous since X uses unencrypted TCP connections and listens for X clients.

If you do not need this service disable it!

But if you depend on using the workstation as a X server use the /usr/bin/xhost command with caution. This command allows clients from other hosts to connect and use your display. This can become handy if you need an X application from a different machine and the only way is through the network, but it can also be exploited by an attacker. The syntax of this command is /usr/bin/xhost +hostname

Do not ever use the xhost + feature! This will allow any client to connect and take control of the X server. If an attacker can get access to the X server, he can log keystrokes and take control over desktop. If it is absolutely necessary to use xhost always, always remember to specify a host.

A more secure solution is to disable this feature completely by starting X with startx -- -nolisten tcp or disable it permanently in the configuration.

FILE /usr/bin/startx
defaultserverargs="-nolisten tcp"

To make sure that startx does not get overwritten when emerging a new version of Xorg you must protect it. Add the following line to /etc/portage/make.conf:


When using a graphical login manager, a different approach is needed.


The information in this section is probably outdated. You can help the Gentoo community by verifying and updating this section.

For gdm (Gnome Display Manager):

FILE /etc/X11/gdm/gdm.conf
command=/usr/X11R6/bin/X -nolisten tcp


The information in this section is probably outdated. You can help the Gentoo community by verifying and updating this section.

For xdm (X Display Manager) and kdm (KDE Display Manager):

FILE /etc/X11/xdm/Xservers
:0 local /usr/bin/X11/X -nolisten tcp