Using Andrew Malett’s ‘Linux Host Security’ course on Pluralsight


Virtual file system that is mounted through to proc. Mostly read only, but some can be tuned, written to. We can inspect with: grep '^proc' /proc/self/mounts find -L /etc /proc -maxdepth 1 -samefie /proc/self/mounts

chad@ubuntu:~/$ find -L /etc /proc -maxdepth 1 -samefie /proc/self/mounts
find: unknown predicate `-samefie'
chad@ubuntu:~/$ find -L /etc /proc -maxdepth 1 -samefile /proc/self/mounts

More information: man 5 proc

Graphical layout of the proc file system: sudo apt install tree tree -L 1 /proc/sys

chad@ubuntu:~/$ tree -L 1 /proc/sys
├── abi
├── debug
├── dev
├── fs
├── kernel
├── net
├── user
└── vm

8 directories, 0 files

sysctl command

To read and write to procfs. The config settings can be read from the file system, but we should be using sysctl and the /etc/sysctl.conf file.

The demonstration we worked through was with the NIS ‘domainname’: cat /proc/sys/kernel/domainname

We could write it with: echo "dropbearsec" | sudo tee /proc/sys/kernel/domainname but we should write it with: sudo sysctl -w kernel.domainname='dropbearsec'

If the values need to persist they need to be part of the /etc/sysctl.conf or /etc/sysctl.d/ as individual configuration files. We can also use sudo sysctl -w kernel.domainname='dropbearsec'

We can see the persistant, per file configurations:

chad@ubuntu:~/$ ls /etc/sysctl.*

10-console-messages.conf   10-magic-sysrq.conf       99-sysctl.conf
10-ipv6-privacy.conf       10-network-security.conf  protect-links.conf
10-kernel-hardening.conf   10-ptrace.conf            README.sysctl
10-link-restrictions.conf  10-zeropage.conf

To see all the keys and values: sysctl -a

To filter: sysctl -ar domainname


PIE - Position Independent Executable ; the flag in the binary.

We can check the ASLR configuration with:

sysctl -ar randomize

We can see it in action with:

chad@ubuntu:~/$ ldd /bin/bash (0x00007ffdca12b000) => /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ (0x00007f749ed59000) => /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ (0x00007f749ed53000) => /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ (0x00007f749eb62000)
	/lib64/ (0x00007f749eec4000)
chad@ubuntu:~/$ ldd /bin/bash (0x00007ffdffdd2000) => /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ (0x00007f22a667f000) => /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ (0x00007f22a6679000) => /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ (0x00007f22a6488000)
	/lib64/ (0x00007f22a67ea000)

In the first example we can see: (0x00007ffdca12b000) Second: (0x00007ffdffdd2000)

We could turn it off with:

sudo sysctl -w kernel.randomize_va_space=0

Disabling ping as an example

sysctl -ar icmp

To set this:

chad@ubuntu:~/$ sudo sysctl -w net.ipv4.icmp_echo_ignore_all=1
net.ipv4.icmp_echo_ignore_all = 1
chad@ubuntu:~/$ ping
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
--- ping statistics ---
4 packets transmitted, 0 received, 100% packet loss, time 3057ms

chad@ubuntu:~/$ sudo sysctl -w net.ipv4.icmp_echo_ignore_all=0
net.ipv4.icmp_echo_ignore_all = 0
chad@ubuntu:~/$ ping
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.095 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.047 ms
--- ping statistics ---
2 packets transmitted, 2 received, 0% packet loss, time 1019ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 0.047/0.071/0.095/0.024 ms

If we did want the permanent change:

Create a file: eg: sudo vim /etc/sysctl.d/60-icmp-block.conf Content: net.ipv4.icmp_echo_ignore_all=1 This will take on system boot, or we could read it in like we did in the previous example.

Monitoring Ports and Services

systemd can let us see running services.

systemctl list-units --type service --state running

To take it further and disable the service and also stop it now: sudo systemctl disable atd --now

We could check into removing the service by finding out which package it belongs to: dpkg -S $(which atd) sudo apt purge at is how we’d do it, but we might not want to. Lets see what apt says: apt show ubuntu-server would show us that we wouldnt want to do that. sudo systemctl mask atd would mask the service instead so that we couldnt accidentally start something we dont want, but cant remove.

In terms of ports, netstat is mostly obsolete and we should move to ss.

ss -ntl is the netstat’ish view. ss -l '( sport = :ssh )' (spaces matter)

Maybe we want to adjust to IPv4 only on this system: grep -iF 'listen' /etc/ssh/sshd_config We’d uncomment the IPv4 address, and leave the IPv6 address commented out.

Chroot Jails

Limiting access to files on the file system with a false root. Users only see the things we put in there.


We might configure a service to run in a chroot jail. DNS for example often has all the required binaries and only those binaries in the jail. We can use ldd to investigate the files required for each application we want to make available.

After we configure a chroot directory with the required binaries we could restrict a SSH user called User1 like this:

sudo useradd -s /bin/bash user1
sudo passwd user1
sudo vim /etc/ssh/sshd_config
	Match User user1
	ChrootDirectory /var/chroot
	sudo systemctl sshd

Limiting Access to Resources

We use a “pam” module -

We can see this via:

grep -F /etc/pam.d/*


chad@ubuntu:~/$ grep -F /etc/pam.d/*
/etc/pam.d/cron:session    required
/etc/pam.d/gdm-autologin:session required
/etc/pam.d/gdm-fingerprint:session required
/etc/pam.d/gdm-launch-environment:session required
/etc/pam.d/gdm-password:session required
/etc/pam.d/login:session    required
/etc/pam.d/runuser:session		required
/etc/pam.d/su:session    required
/etc/pam.d/systemd-user:session  required

ulimit -a ulimit -u

chad@ubuntu:~/$ ulimit -a
core file size          (blocks, -c) 0
data seg size           (kbytes, -d) unlimited
scheduling priority             (-e) 0
file size               (blocks, -f) unlimited
pending signals                 (-i) 15419
max locked memory       (kbytes, -l) 65536
max memory size         (kbytes, -m) unlimited
open files                      (-n) 1024
pipe size            (512 bytes, -p) 8
POSIX message queues     (bytes, -q) 819200
real-time priority              (-r) 0
stack size              (kbytes, -s) 8192
cpu time               (seconds, -t) unlimited
max user processes              (-u) 15419
virtual memory          (kbytes, -v) unlimited
file locks                      (-x) unlimited

In the output we can see that it shows how to get more information on each item. -u for example, show the max user processes:

chad@ubuntu:~/$ ulimit -u

We can edit this for everyone in the file: sudo vim /etc/security/limits.conf

Reset local password with Grub

At the GRUB menu hit e (to edit) That’ll show the boot paramaters. Scroll down to the linux line. crtl+e to get to the end of the line where we add init=/bin/bash then we will boot to the bash root shell. Then we mount the disk as RW: mount -o remount,rw / Then passwd user to change the password of the account we want. We should then move the disk back to read only to reduce the chance of corruption when we power it off: mount -o remount,ro /

As an admin, we can add GRUB password in /etc/grub.d/00_header; but we’d be better to use grub-mkpasswd-pbkdf2 to create an encrypted password.


tail /var/log/syslog tail /var/log/auth.log

We can see things, but it might not be the level of detail we need.

sudo apt install -y auditd audispd-plugins

The, we are still reading from the log, but it is more detailed and better search tools are available:

ausearch -m ADD_USER --start recent

// TBC!

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Chad Duffey



Chad Duffey

Blue Team -> Exploit Development & things in-between

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