This Security FAQ is a resource provided by:
Internet Security Systems, Inc.
2000 Miller Court West Tel: (770) 441-2531
Norcross, Georgia 30071 Fax: (770) 441-2431
- Internet Scanner ... the most comprehensive "attack simulator"
To get the newest updates of Security files check the following services:
mail email@example.com with "send index" in message
ftp iss.net /pub/
What if your Machines are Compromised by an Intruder.
This FAQ deals with some suggestions for securing your Unix machine after it
has already been compromised. Even if your machines have not been compromised,
there are many helpful tips on securing a machine in this paper.
1. Try to trace/follow the intruder back to his origin via looking at
7. router information.
8. /var/adm/messages (many crackers send e-mail to their "home"
9. syslog (sends logs to other hosts as well)
10. wrapper logs
11. do a 'finger' to all local users(and check where they last logged in
12. history files from shells, such as .history, .rchist, and similiar
Footnote: 'who', 'w', 'last', and 'lastcomm' are commands that rely on
/var/adm/pacct, /usr/adm/wtmp, and /etc/utmp to report the information to
you. Most backdoors will keep the intruder from being shown in these logs.
Even if the intruder has not installed any backdoors yet, it is trivial to
remove any detection in these logs. But they may just forget about one or
two of them. Especially if you have some additional, non-standard ones.
Suggestion: Install xinetd or tcp_wrapper that will log all connections to
your machine to see if someone is knocking on its doors. Forward syslogs
to another machine so intruder will not easily detect the logs and modify.
Other possibilities: netlog from net.tamu.edu:/pub/security.
It might be wise to monitor the intruder via some ethernet sniffer to see
how he is exploiting his systems before taking corrective measures.
2. Close the machine from outside access. Remove from network to stop
further access via intruder. If the intruder finds out that the
administrator is unto him, he may try to hide his tracks by rm -rf /.
3. Check the binaries with the originals. Especially check the following
binaries because they are commonly replaced backdoors for regaining
2. all the /usr/etc/in.* files (ie. in.telnetd)
3. and /lib/libc.so.* (on Suns).
4. anything called from inetd
Other commonly replaced backdoor binaries:
1. netstat - allows hiding connections
2. ps - allows hiding processes (ie Crack)
3. ls - allows hiding directories
4. ifconfig - hides the fact that promiscuity mode is on the ethernet
5. sum - fools the checksum for binaries, not necessarily replaced
anymore because its possible to change the checksum of the binaries
to the correct value without modifying sum. *EMPHASIZE* Do NOT Rely
Use 'ls -lac' to find the real modification time of files. Check /etc/wtmp
(if you still have one) for any system time adjustments. Check the files
with the distribution media (CD or tape) or calculate MD5 checksums and
compare them with the originals kept offline (you did calculate them
sometime ago, didn't you?) Suggestion: cmp the files with copies that are
known to be good.
Another popular backdoor is suid'ing a common command (ie. /bin/time) to
allow root access with regular accounts.
To find all suid programs you may use:
find / -type f -perm -4000 -ls
To be thorough you may need to re-load the entire OS to make sure there
are no backdoors. Tripwire helps prevent modifying binaries and system
files (ie. inetd.conf) on the system, without the administrator knowing.
4. Implement some password scheme for your users to verify that they change
their passwords often. Install anlpasswd, npasswd, or passwd+ in place of
passwd (or yppasswd) so that your users are forced to set reasonable
passwords. Then run Crack, which is available on
ftp.cert.org:/pub/tools/crack to make sure that your users aren't
bypassing the password check. Crack ensures that users are picking
difficult passwords. With the network, clear text passwords are a problem.
Other possible choices: smart hubs (stops ethernet sniffing of the whole
LAN) and one-time password technology.
5. Check all the users' .rhosts and .forward files to make sure none of them
are weird or out of the ordinary. If .rhosts file contains '+ +', the
account can be accessed anywhere by anyone without a password. COPS has a
scripts for checking .rhosts.
find / -name .rhosts -ls -o -name .forward -ls
Look also for all the files created/modified in the time you are
suspecting the break-in has taken place, eg:
find / -ctime -2 -ctime +1 -ls
To find all the files modified not less than one day ago, but not more
All .login, .logout, .profile, .cshrc files are also worth looking at (at
least for the modification date/time). Make sure there are no '.rhosts'
for the locked or special accounts (like 'news', 'sundiag', 'sync', etc.)
The shell for such accounts should be something like '/bin/false' anyway
(and not '/bin/sh') to make them more secure. Also search for directories
that have like ". ", ".. " as names. They are usually found in /tmp ,
/var/tmp, /usr/spool/* and any other publicly writeable directory.
6. Check to make sure your NFS exports are not world writable to everyone.
NFSwatch available on harbor.ecn.purdue.edu:/pub/davy , a program by David
Curry, will log any NFS transactions that are taking place. Try 'showmount
-e' to see whether system agrees with your opinion of what are you
exporting and where. There are bugs in some nfsd implementations which
ignore the access lists when they exceed some limit (256 bytes). Check
also what are you IMPORTING!!! Use 'nosuid' flag whenever possible. You do
not want to be cracked by a sysadm from another host (or a cracker there)
running suid programs mounted via NFS, do you?
7. Make sure you have implemented the newest sendmail daemon. Old sendmail
daemons allowed remote execution of commands on any Unix machine. See the
8. Try to install all the security patches available from the vendor on your
machine. See the computer-security/security-patch FAQ.
9. Here is a check list of common ways that a machine is vulnerable:
1. Do an rpcinfo -p on your machine to make sure it is not running any
processes that are not needed. (ie. rexd).
2. Check for '+' in /etc/hosts.equiv.
3. Check whether tftp is disabled on your system. If not - disable it,
or at least use '-s' flag to chroot it to some safe area, if you
really can't live without it (it is mostly used for booting up
Xterminals, but sometimes can be avoided by NFS-mounting appropriate
disks). Under no circumstances you should run it as root. Change the
line describing it in /etc/inetd.conf to something like:
tftp dgram udp wait nobody /usr/etc/in.tftpd in.tftpd -s
or better yet, use tcpd wrapper program to protect it from addresses
which should not get access to tftp and log all other connections:
tftp dgram udp wait nobody /usr/etc/tcpd in.tftpd -s
and edit appropriately /etc/hosts.allow to restrict access to
in.tftpd to only those addresses that really need it.
4. Check crontabs and at-jobs. Make sure there are no delayed bombs
which will explode after you think you have got rid of all the nasty
things left by a intruder.
5. Check /etc/rc.boot /etc/rc.local (SYSV: /etc/rc?.d/* ) and other
files cruicial for the system startup. (The best would be if you
could compare them with the copies kept off-line). Check all other
files containing system configuration (sendmail.cf, sendmail.fc,
hosts.allow, at.allow, at.deny, cron.allow, hosts, hosts.lpd, etc.)
In 'aliases' look for aliases expanding to some unusual programs
(uudecode is one but example).
6. Check your inetd.conf and /etc/services files to find if there are
no additional services set up by an intruder.
7. Copy all the log files you still have (pacct, wtmp, lastlog, sulog,
syslog, authlog, any additional logs you have set up earlier) to some
safe place (offline) so you may examine them later. Otherwise, do not
be surprised if they disappear the next day when the cracker realises
he forgot to remove one of them. Use your own imagination to find
what other traces he could have left in your system (What about
/tmp/* files? Check them BEFORE you reboot).
8. Make backup copy of /etc/passwd (best offline) then change all root
passwords (after verifying that 'su' and 'passwd' are not the trojan
versions left by an intruder). It may sound like a horrible thing to
do (especially if you have something like 2000 users) but *do* lock
them all by putting '*' in the password field. If the intruder has a
copy of your passwords file he may possibly sooner or later guess all
the passwords contained there (It is all the matter of proper
dictionaries). In fact he could have inserted few passwords that he
only knows for some users who for example have not logged in for a
On the NIS servers check not only the real /etc/passwd /etc/groups
etc files but also those used for building NIS maps (if they are
9. Check if your anonymous ftp (and other services) are configured
properly (if you have any of course) See the
10. If you want to make your life easier next time (or if you still
cannot get rid of an intruder) consider installing 'ident' daemon.
Together with tcpd on a set of hosts it can be used to find what
accounts the intruder is using.
11. Make sure the only 'secure' terminal is console (if at all). This
way you prevent root logins just from the net. Maybe it is not a big
deal as if somebody knows the root password he may already know other
peoples' passwords too, but maybe not?
12. Check hosts.equiv, .rhosts, and hosts.lpd for having # as comments
within those files. If an intruder changes his hostname to #, it will
be considered a trusted host and allow him to access your machines.
13. And remember... There are so many ways that somebody could have
modified your system, that you really have to have your eyes and ears
wide open for a loooooong long time. Above, are the pointers just to
the most obvious things to check.
10. Mail all the sites that you were able to find out that the intruder was
going through and warn them. Also, CC: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check all the sites
in your near-by, ie. in your domain/institution/whatever. It's usually
trivial for a hacker to get to another system by a simple 'rlogin' if the
two systems have a common subset of users (and using .rhosts to make the
11. A preventive from stopping many intruders from even trying your network
is to install a firewall.
Side-effects: Firewalls may be expensive; filtering may slow down the
network. Consider blocking nfs (port 2049/udp) and portmap(111/udp) on
your router. The authentication and access controls of these protocols is
often minimal. Suggestion: Block all udp ports except DNS and NTP ports.
Kill all source routing packets. Kill all ip-forwarding packets.
Thanks to the following people for adding and shaping this FAQ:
Tomasz Surmacz <email@example.com>
Wes Morgan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alan Hannan (email@example.com)
Peter Van Epp <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Richard Jones <email@example.com>
Wieste Venema <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Adrian Rodriguez <email@example.com>
Jill Bowyer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Andy Mell <email@example.com>
This paper is Copyright (c) 1994, 1995
by Christopher Klaus of Internet Security Systems, Inc.
Permission is hereby granted to give away free copies electronically. You may
distribute, transfer, or spread this paper electronically. You may not pretend
that you wrote it. This copyright notice must be maintained in any copy made.
If you wish to reprint the whole or any part of this paper in any other medium
excluding electronic medium, please ask the author for permission.
The information within this paper may change without notice. Use of this
information constitutes acceptance for use in an AS IS condition. There are NO
warranties with regard to this information. In no event shall the author be
liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of or in connection with the use
or spread of this information. Any use of this information is at the user's own
Address of Author
Please send suggestions, updates, and comments to:
Christopher Klaus <firstname.lastname@example.org> of Internet Security Systems, Inc.
Internet Security Systems, Inc.
Internet Security Systems, Inc, located in Atlanta, Ga., specializes in the
developement of security scanning software tools. Its flagship product,
Internet Scanner, is software that learns an organization's network and probes
every device on that network for security holes. It is the most comprehensive
"attack simulator" available, checking for over 100 security vulnerabilities.
Christopher William Klaus Voice: (404)441-2531. Fax: (404)441-2431
Internet Security Systems, Inc. Computer Security Consulting
2000 Miller Court West, Norcross, GA 30071