How Linux Security Fails to be Simple

Linux Security Should be Simple, Right? Why that is not a reality, and we might never achieve it. Linux gained great popularity over the last 10 years, powering our servers and smartphones. With all the efforts put in creating more secure software, it seems installing security updates will remain a weekly task. Will this ever change? Security is Hard Properly securing a system means different things for different people. So let’s take the assumption that every system has a particular […]

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Understanding Linux Privilege Escalation and Defending Against It

What is Linux privilege escalation? Privilege escalation is the process of elevating your permission level, by switching from one user to another one and gain more privileges. For example, a normal user on Linux can become root or get the same permissions as root. This can be authorized usage, with the use of the su or sudo command. It can also be unauthorized, for example when an attacker leverages a software bug. Especially this last category of privilege escalations is […]

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Automatic Security Updates with DNF

DNF: Automatic Security Updates The Dandified YUM tool, DNF, has become a powerful package manager for systems running Fedora. As it looks now, it will become also the default package manager for CentOS 8 and RHEL 8. One of the benefits from dnf is the option to retrieve security information very easily. This allows us to use it for automatic security patching of our Linux systems. Let’s explore the options and see how dnf-automatic can help us with fully automated […]

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Dealing with Linux Malware, Insights by the Author of rkhunter

Linux Malware Malicious software plague computers for more than 40 years. It is hard to think this threat will ever stop. The Linux platform definitely has their share of malware, although many people never experienced it firsthand. Let’s dive into this subject and discover why your system might actually being compromised at this very moment. The types of malware To understand the risks, you have to understand the threats and weaknesses. When we talk about malware, there are different family […]

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Differences between iptables and nftables explained

The seasoned Linux administrator will be familiar with iptables, the network traffic filter. If you ever configured a Linux system with an ethernet bridge configuration, you might even have worked with ebtables. Or possibly you wanted to filter ARP traffic and used arptables? Newcomer nftables has arrived, with the purpose to replace iptables, ip6tables, ebtables and arptables. As with every big upcoming change, it is good to know the differences. We explain what makes nftables different to iptables, and why […]

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Block IP addresses in Linux with iptables

Blocking IP addresses and subnets with ipset Most system administrators will already be familiar with iptables. It is around for quite a while and is enabled by default within the Linux kernel. We can use iptables to block one, multiple IP addresses, or even full networks. This may come in handy when you get repeating port scans or see failed login attempts in your log files. Time to get started and block some IP addresses! Check existing iptables configuration The first step is to […]

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Linux vulnerabilities: from detection to treatment

If you worked with a computer the last decade, you know the importance of keeping your software up-to-date. Those who don’t, are stacking up vulnerabilities, waiting for them to being exploited by others. Although Linux and most software are open source and can be reviewed, security flaws in software packages remain. While it isn’t easy to close every vulnerability on your system, we can at least create a stable process around it. This guide explains what is available, from vulnerability to […]

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List network interfaces on Linux

The network configuration is a common place to start during system configuration, security audits, and troubleshooting. It can reveal useful information like MAC and IP addresses. This guide helps you to gather this information on Linux, including listing all available network interfaces and its details. Show network interfaces Linux Every Linux distribution is using its own way of configuring the network configuration details. Therefore, it is good to know which tools can be used to query these details in a generic […]

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In-depth Linux Guide to Achieve PCI DSS Compliance and Certification

If you work for a company which accepts, processes, or stores credit card details, you might be familiar with the PCI Data Security Standard (DSS). The standard itself is very detailed. Still, it sometimes unclear on what specifically to implement and when. This guide will help with translating the PCI standard to technical security controls on Linux systems. This document has the goal to help you further secure your network and pass the PCI DSS audit. It is important to […]

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The ultimate strace cheat sheet

Strace cheat sheet The strace utility is very powerful to learn what a new or running process is doing. Due to its diversity of monitoring options, the tool is less accessible at first. This strace cheat sheet helps with getting the best out of this tool. Normally cheat sheets come in a single 1 page PDF. In this case, we combined it all within a blog post. First section shows an explanation per area, the bottom of the post contains […]

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Kernel hardening: Disable and blacklist Linux modules

Disable and black Linux kernel modules The Linux kernel is modular, which makes it more flexible than monolithic kernels. New functionality can be easily added to a run kernel, by loading the related module. While that is great, it can also be misused. You can think of loading malicious modules (e.g. rootkits), or unauthorized access to the server and copy data via a USB port. In our previous article about kernel modules, we looked at how to prevent loading any […]

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Increase kernel integrity with disabled Linux kernel modules loading

Increasing Linux kernel integrity Disable loading kernel module on Linux systems The Linux kernel can be configured to disallow loading new kernel modules. This feature is especially useful for high secure systems, or if you care about securing your system to the fullest. In this article, we will have a look at the configuration of this option. At the same time allowing legitimate kernel modules to be loaded. Disable kernel modules Newer kernel modules have a sysctl variable named kernel.modules_disabled. Sysctl […]

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Security Integration: Configuration Management and Auditing

Configuration Management and Auditing Increased strength when combining tools for automation and security of IT environments Tools like Ansible, Chef, and Puppet are used a lot for rapid deployment and keeping systems properly configured. These tools in itself are great for ensuring consistency over your systems. So what is Configuration Management? Configuration management is the art of keeping systems properly configured. Usually companies start small, which equals manual configuration. Each time a new system is deployed, it is configured manually. […]

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Password Security with Linux /etc/shadow file

Password Security on Linux Using the /etc/shadow file Linux systems use a password file to store accounts, commonly available as /etc/passwd. For additional safety measures, a shadow copy of this file is used which includes the passwords of your users. Or actually hashed password, for maximum security. An example of a password entry in /etc/shadow may look like this: user1:$6$6Y/fI1nx$zQJj6AH9asTNfhxV7NoVgxByJyE.rVKK6tKXiOGNCfWBsrTGY7wtC6Cep6co9eVNkRFrpK6koXs1NU3AZQF8v/:16092:0:99999:7::: For proper display, let’s split this up in several fields: user1 $6$6Y/fI1nx$zQJj6AH9asTNfhxV7NoVgxByJyE.rVKK6tK<truncated> 16092 0 99999 7 <nothing> <nothing> Field explanations […]

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PCI DSS (v3) Linux: Creation and deletion of system-level objects (10.2.7)

PCI DSS (v3) Linux: Creation and deletion of system-level objects (10.2.7) Some areas are within the PCI standard are definitely not directly clear when reading the description. Section 10.2.7 is one of them. It talks about the creation and deletion of system-level objects and specifically the ability to log them. System-level objects? The guidance in 10.2.7 speaks about malware and mentions database related items. That does not make auditing very obvious, as malware usually targets binaries. Therefore we have to […]

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