Basic Slackware Security

Basic Slackware Security

  • Pridružio: 20 Apr 2003
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// Basic Slackware Security
// by dual_parallel and bland_inquisitor

Welcome to Slackware
Slackware Linux began in April, 1993. For over ten years, Slackware Linux
has focused on "simplicity and stability." Everything just works in
Slackware. Slackware is also considered one of the most secure GNU/Linux
distributions. That being said, it does not mean that security can be
ignored after a friendly Slackware installation.

This article is meant to be a crash course in Slackware security. It will
detail some basic steps that should be taken before you consider Slackware
to be fully installed. Again, these are basic steps - more services will
require more configuration. And note that you'll have to be root to perform
the configuration tasks in this article. On to the install.

Preparing Your Hard Drive
The methods and reasons for creating multiple partitions are many and hotly
debated. We will offer a secure partitioning scheme, while not sacrificing
usability or making things overly complicated. In the end, having these
four partitions will go a long way towards creating a more secure working


Typically your swap partition is twice the amount of your computer's RAM.


Your boot partition is where your kernel(s), and your boot loader will
reside. The security advantage of having a small dedicated boot partition
is that in the event your box is "0wned," it affords the intruder a smaller
space for backdoors. Also, it makes things like the size of and
vmlinuz easier to keep an eye on for size changes. Twenty to 50 MB is
sufficient for a boot partition.


The var directory is where system logs are stored. It is possible to deny
service to a computer by filling its hard drive via log flooding. If /var
is on a separate partition and someone log floods you, they will not be
able to deny service to your entire computer. A few gigs will be more than
enough for a typical /var partition.


This is the root partition. This is where you will be installing Slackware
and all of the other programs you decide to add to your computer. All of
the remaining space of your hard drive should be the size of your /

Some people advise to have separate partition for /home as well. If you
feel comfortable doing this, then it is certainly more secure and organized.
It is not necessary to have a dedicated /home partition. The main
attraction for having a partition for /home is mainly for multi-user boxes.
That way if an attacker is able to log in as a legitimate user, and they
attempt to deny service to the entire computer by filling the hard drive,
all they will be able to do is fill the /home partition. Unless you are
using your Slackware computer to host several users, a /home partition is
probably unnecessary.

Choosing Your Slackware Installation
Choosing all packages during installation sure is convenient. It doesn't
add to security though. So your first step is to hand-pick packages that
you know you'll need or want. Also, and you probably know this, when given
the choice to start services at boot, deselect as many as you can. The
fewer packages and services available for an attacker to exploit, the

If you must choose a full install, because you have better things to do
with your time than sit there in front of your computer selecting packages,
or perhaps you want to make sure all dependencies are met, then do what you
must. Take heart in that Slackware has a good package system and that you
can always remove extraneous packages later.

Passwords are your first line of defense against attackers, local and
remote. We cannot stress enough the importance of having strong passwords.
Look at it this way, if something is important enough to protect, it is
important enough to protect as strongly as possible.

We recommend Sl1pm0de-like passwords, i.e. minimum 10 mixed-case alpha,
numeric and special characters. You may think that these passwords would
be unwieldy, but you'll be surprised at how fast you can memorize them,
even for multiple boxes.

A good way to choose a secure password like this is to type it out on your
keyboard, without pressing the keys, utilizing motor memory. We don't
recommend using password creation utilities due to healthy paranoia.

Post-Install Security
You're booted up. The first thing to do is to configure tcpwrappers by
editing /etc/hosts.deny and hosts.allow. Add the following line to
hosts.deny to disallow access by any host to your box.


Once this is in place, you can reinforce host denial in hosts.allow with


or you can poke holes to allow access by certain hosts, or ranges of hosts,
to certain services. A common entry would be to allow ssh connections:

sshd: ALL: ALLOW

Firewalls are not a panacea for security. But they are an imperative
beginning step. iptables provides the packet filtering, or firewalling, for
the 2.4.x and 2.6.x kernels. And if setting up an iptables firewall is not
your first step in securing your Slack box, it better be your second.

Below is an example of a basic iptables script. The comments included
explain what the rules are doing. Name the script rc.firewall, chmod 755
rc.firewall and mv rc.firewall /etc/rc.d.


# rc.firewall for
# Basic Slackware Security

# These two rules set the default policies, i.e. what to do if a
# packet doesn't match any other rule, to drop any packet coming
# into (INPUT) or routing through (FORWARD) the box.
iptables -P INPUT DROP
iptables -P FORWARD DROP

# These rules are added (-A) to the INPUT chain. They allow packets
# from any previously established connections and accept anything
# from the loopback interface.
iptables -A INPUT -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -s -d -i lo -j ACCEPT

# This rule added to the INPUT chain accepts any ssh connections.
iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 22 -i eth0 -j ACCEPT

With a basic firewall in place, it's time to edit /etc/inetd.conf to remove
unneeded services. Now unless you absolutely know you need a service
mentioned in inetd.conf, comment it out with #. You will probably find
that, at least initially, you'll comment out the entire file. Here's a
Perl script that will do it for you.


$conf = "/etc/inetd.conf";

system("cp $conf $conf.bak");

open FILE, "$conf" or die "Can't open $conf: $!";
open TEMP, ">temp" or die "Can't create temp file: $!";

while (<FILE>) {
s/^/#/ if ($_ !~ /^#/);
print TEMP;

close FILE;
close TEMP;

unlink "$conf";
system("mv temp $conf");

If there's a service that you want shut down that you didn't choose to
during the install, stay in /etc and head to rc.d. You can edit rc.M (M
for multi-user) and comment out the respective section that starts the
daemon, and/or you can chmod 644 rc.<service> to keep it from starting, as
rc.M starts a service based on the file test, -x.

It's safe to say that the major steps to securing your box are complete.
There are many things left to do, including advancing the above topics,
that can tighten up security. Configuring individual services should weigh
heavily in this advancement. Staying in line with the above examples, we
will go through some important settings for sshd.

The configuration file for sshd is /etc/ssh/sshd_config. Edit the file and
consider making the following changes.

# Force the more secure Protocol 2
Protocol 2

# Do not let root login remotely
PermitRootLogin no

# Watch out for world writables
StrictModes yes

# Require passwords
PasswordAuthentication yes

# Don't allow null passwords
PermitEmptyPasswords no

# What do you need X for anyway?
X11Forwarding no

# No extraneous info
PrintMotd no

Now run kill -s 1 `cat /var/run/` to force sshd to reload its

To be sure, there is no security through obscurity. Then again, there's no
reason to give an attacker any more information than you have to. Turn off
or change any banner or motd, and edit /etc/issue and to your
liking. (bland's is set to "Welcome to Windows Server 2003.")

suid, or Set User ID, programs are usually plentiful in any distro and their
root interaciton with regular users should be controlled. Going through
your suid programs and removing the s bit can significantly reduce
vulnerability. A Perl script has been provided that can simplify this

Save the below Perl script as and run it. Then go through the
resulting suid.txt text file and comment out, with #, the programs that
do not need suid permission. Save it and then run with the -u
switch. Commented programs will no longer be suid, and you'll have a
record of what was done.


if ($#ARGV < 0) {
system("find / -perm +4000 2>/dev/null > suid.txt");

if ($ARGV[0] =~ /-u/) {
open(UPDATE, "<suid.txt") or die "Can't read file: $!";

while (<UPDATE>) {
if (/^#/) {
system("chmod -s $_");
else {
print "Usage: perl <-u>\n";

There are a couple of final touches before moving on to third party
applications. Edit /etc/securetty, which controls which devices root can
login to, and comment out, well, everything for more security. And change
your umask to a more restrictive 077.

Third-Party Security Software
As you can imagine, there are many third party programs that can aid your
efforts to secure your box. Whatever program you use, make sure you verify
the MD5 hash of the download.

md5sum <file>

One of the wonders of Linux is the automatic updating of packages.
Automatic updates are a boon to security, as vulnerable (and buggy)
packages are fixed with little user intervention. Slackware in particular
has a wonderful package manager called swaret (pronounced soiree). Grab
the swaret Slack package with


and then

installpkg swaret-1.6.2-noarch-1.tgz

to install it. You can manually update your box with

swaret --update && swaret --upgrade -a

or better yet, set up a cron job to automate updates at regular intervals.

One of the better sources for third party security applications is One useful program that you can acquire
there is chkrootkit ( chkrootkit is a "shell
script that checks system binaries for rootkit modification." It would
behoove you to run this at regular intervals, or at least when you think
there's been a breach.

Instead of thinking that there's been a breach, know if there's been a
breach by using an Intrusion Detection System (IDS). Dicussing Intrusion
Detection Systems could take an entire article if not a book. One of the
more popular IDSs, which you can get books for, is snort
( Installing and using snort with its default
configuration is relatively simple. Unfortunately, you will get so many
false positives with the default configuration that snort out of the box is
of litte value.

Further Consideration and Configuration
As the title states, this is only a basic tutorial on how to secure your
Slackware Linux installation. If you are so inclined, there are many more
challenges in Linux security to conquer. Configuring snort and writing
rules tailored to your network may be a good start. Writing a more
elaborate iptables script may be in your future. Log watchers, file system
integrity checkers, port knocking - the list goes on.

If you have done everything detailed here, then you can securely pursue your
studies in Linux security. And you will have done it with one the most
versatile, stable, and now secure, GNU/Linux distributions available,


Here's a script that can give you a little peace of mind. We call it
quicksec, and after it's made executable and placed in root's path (echo
$PATH), you can put the line "quicksec" in root's .bashrc. Then when you
su -, you can get a small picture of what's going on on your box.


echo "Last snort alert"
echo "----------------"
tail -n 8 /var/log/snort/alert

echo "Login info"
echo "----------"
last -10

echo "Security log"
echo "------------"
tail /var/log/secure

If you are using the Fluxbox window manager, which comes with a full
Slackware install, there is a handy program you should try. root-tail
( allows you to print
information directly to your root window. The commands bland has in his
~/.fluxbox/apps file are:

[startup] {last -3 > /home/bland/.last.txt}
[startup] {root-tail -g 220x10+20+50 /var/log/secure,red,'ALERT' \

It's a very cool little app that will keep you well-informed. You can find
a screenshot of bland's Slackware box running root-tail at

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