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11. Chrooting and Virtual Servers
Chrooting a service is a way of limiting a service (or user) environment to
only accessing what it should and not gaining access (or information) that
could lead to root access. By running the service as another user than
root (nobody, apache, named) an attacker can only
access files with the permissions of this user. This means that an attacker
cannot gain root access even if the services has a security flaw.
Some services like pure-ftpd and bind have features for
chrooting, and other services do not. If the service supports it, use it,
otherwise you have to figure out how to create your own. Lets see how to create
a chroot, for a basic understanding of how chroots work, we will test it with
bash (easy way of learning).
Create the /chroot directory with mkdir /chroot. And find what
dynamic libraries that bash is compiled with (if it is compiled with
-static this step is not necessary):
The following command will create a list of libraries used by bash.
Code Listing 1.1: Get listing of used libraries
# ldd /bin/bash
libncurses.so.5 => /lib/libncurses.so.5 (0x4001b000)
libdl.so.2 => /lib/libdl.so.2 (0x40060000)
libc.so.6 => /lib/libc.so.6 (0x40063000)
/lib/ld-linux.so.2 => /lib/ld-linux.so.2 (0x40000000)
Now lets create the environment for bash.
Code Listing 1.2: Create chroot-environment for bash
# mkdir /chroot/bash
# mkdir /chroot/bash/bin
# mkdir /chroot/bash/lib
Next copy the files used by bash (/lib) to the chrooted
lib and copy the bash command to the chrooted bin
directory. This will create the exact same environment, just with less
functionality. After copying try it out: chroot /chroot/bash /bin/bash.
If you get an prompt saying / it works! Otherwise it will properly
tell you what a file is missing. Some shared libraries depend on each other.
You will notice that inside the chroot nothing works except echo. This
is because we have no other commands in out chroot environment than bash and
echo is a build-in functionality.
This is basically the same way you would create a chrooted service. The only
difference is that services sometimes rely on devices and configuration files
in /etc. Simply copy them (devices can be copied with cp
-a) to the chrooted environment, edit the init script to use chroot before
executing. It can be difficult to find what devices and configuration files a
services need. This is where the strace command becomes handy. Start
the service with /usr/bin/strace bash and look for open, read, stat and
maybe connect. This will give you a clue on what files to copy. But in most
cases just copy the passwd file (edit the copy and remove users that has
nothing to do with the service), /dev/zero, /dev/log
11.b. User Mode Linux
Another way of creating a more secure environment is by running a virtual
machine. A virtual machine, as the name implies, is a process that runs on top
of your real operating system providing a hardware and operating system
environment that appears to be its own unique machine. The security benefit is
that if the server running on the virtual machine is compromised, only the
virtual server is affected and not the parent installation.
For more information about how to setup User Mode Linux consult the User Mode Linux Guide.
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