[ISN] Firewalling /proc entries

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Date: Wed Oct 16 2002 - 00:23:32 PDT

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    |  Linux Security: Tips, Tricks, and Hackery                       |
    |  Published by Onsight, Inc.                                      |
    |                                                                  |
    |  15-October-2002                                                 |
    |  http://www.hackinglinuxexposed.com/articles/20021015.html       |
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    Firewalling /proc entries
    By Brian Hatch
    Summary: There are several network-related protections you can enable
    with simple change to the Linux kernel via /proc pseudo files.
    The Linux Kernel can be configured using iptables or ipchains to
    enforce strong network protections. However there are several useful
    kernel flags you can set to increase your default network security
    posture without any complicated rules.
    The /proc filesystem is a window into various parts of the Linux
    kernel. /proc is not an actual directory on your disk, but is a
    pseudo filesystem generated by the kernel itself. The files therein
    represent internal configuration settings of the currently running
    kernel. Some of these values are read only, while others can be
    changed. If you're new to /proc, you may also want to check out some 
    previous[1] articles in which I described some other useful features
    of the /proc filesystem.
    Many configurable /proc entries have either a 0 or a 1 value,
    representing false (off) or true (on). For example the /proc/sys/net/
    ipv4/tcp_syncookies can only be turned on or off. Other entries are
    numeric or ASCII data, for example the /proc/sys/kernel/hostname file
    which contains the hostname of the machine. You can view or change
    these entries in one of two ways:
    Direct /proc access
        To view a kernel variable directly, simply cat the associated
        file in /proc:
        $ cat /proc/sys/kernel/hostname
        Shell output redirection is the easiest method to change a
        variable - simply write to the file:
        # echo 'snowy'> /proc/sys/kernel/hostname
        # cat /proc/sys/kernel/hostname
        The kernel knows what kind of data to expect, and will convert
        appropriately. Thus newlines would be discarded from our hostname
        example above.
        To view a kernel variable with sysctl, simply list it on the
        sysctl command line:
        $ sysctl kernel.hostname
        kernel.hostname = snowy
        Note that sysctl's argument is simply the /proc file without the
        leading /proc/sys component, and with slashes converted to
        spaces. Thus /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_syncookies would become
        To change a variable, use the following command line:
        # sysctl -w kernel.hostname="sleety"
        kernel.hostname = sleety
    The kernel changes you make do not apply across a reboot. In order
    for them to persist, you need to either:
      * Create a new startup script in an appropriate /etc/rc#.d
        directory which runs the cat or sysctl commands, or
      * Put "variable=value" lines into /etc/sysctl.conf. These lines are
        just like sysctl commands, without the 'sysctl' keyword or '-w'
        flag. For example:
        $ cat /etc/sysctl.conf
        net.ipv4.ip_forward = 0
        kernel.sysrq = 1
    So now that you know how to change these settings, here's a shell
    script you can use to tweak kernel variables to increase the default
    network security of your machine. You can use this directly, or
    create an /etc/sysctl.conf file that does the same thing.
      # Handy functions to set the file to one or zero
       enable () { for file in $@; do echo 1> $file; done }
      disable () { for file in $@; do echo 0> $file; done }
      # Disable inbound source routed packets to prevent folks
      # from spoofing their IP address.  No legitimate users
      # require source routing any more.
      disable /proc/sys/net/ipv4/conf/*/accept_source_route
      # Enable TCP SYN cookies to keep us from suffering from
      # syn-flood DoS or DDoS attacks.  See DJB's page at
      # http://cr.yp.to/syncookies.html if you want to know
      # how SYN cookies work - it's cool.
      enable /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_syncookies
      # Ignore redirects from machines that are listed as gateways
      # (routers set by 'route add ... gw IPADDR'). Not a good idea
      # if these routers do send redirects, which is likely if you
      # multiple routers on your net but only one default configured.
      # Redirects can be abused to perform man-in-the-middle attacks,
      # so you only want them enabled from trusted sources.
      enable /proc/sys/net/ipv4/conf/*/secure_redirects
      # Reject any non-secure redirects
      disable /proc/sys/net/ipv4/conf/*/accept_redirects
      # Don't send any redirects either.  (Only use if you're
      # not acting as a router that needs to send redirects.)
      disable /proc/sys/net/ipv4/conf/*/send_redirects
      # Do not respond to packets that would cause us to go out
      # a different interface than the one to which we're responding.
      enable /proc/sys/net/ipv4/conf/*/rp_filter
      # Reassemble fragmented packets.  Usually a good idea.
      enable /proc/sys/net/ip_always_defrag
      # Log any packets that have IP addresses that shouldn't exist
      enable /proc/sys/net/ipv4/conf/*/log_martians; do
      # Disable packet forwarding
      #  (Do not do this if you're a router/firewall!)
      disable /proc/sys/net/ipv4.ip_forward
      # Send an ARP for address to which we have a route.  Good
      # for some firewall and VPN/router setups, bad for hosts.
      disable /proc/sys/net/ipv4/conf/*/proxy_arp
      # Ignore broadcast pings
      # (Don't participate in smurf attacks)
      enable /proc/sys/net/ipv4/icmp_echo_ignore_broadcasts
      # Ignore all pings.
      #  (May be considered a bit excessive.)
      #enable icmp_echo_ignore_all
    [1] http://www.hackinglinuxexposed.com/articles/20020507.html
    Brian Hatch is Chief Hacker at Onsight, Inc and author of Hacking
    Linux Exposed and Building Linux VPNs. When not perusing Linux kernel
    code, he likes to obfuscate his office as a pro-active security
    measure. Some call it cluttered or messy, but he knows the truth.
    Brian can be reached at brianat_private
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