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Network Security For Trade Shows

The information below is for an old version of the document that is already published as an RFC.
Document Type
This is an older version of an Internet-Draft that was ultimately published as RFC 2179.
Author Allen Gwinn Jr.
Last updated 2013-03-02 (Latest revision 1997-04-17)
RFC stream Legacy stream
Stream Legacy state (None)
Consensus boilerplate Unknown
RFC Editor Note (None)
IESG IESG state RFC 2179 (Informational)
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Send notices to (None)
Network Working Group                                           A. Gwinn
INTERNET-DRAFT                                 Networld+Interop NOC Team
Obsoletes: None                                               April 1997
Category: Informational

                 Network Security For Large Trade Shows

Status of this Memo

   This document is an Internet-Draft.  Internet-Drafts are working
   documents of the Internet Engineering task Force (IETF), its areas,
   and its working groups.  Note that other groups may also distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress".

   To learn the current status of any Internet-Draft, please check the
   "1id-abstract.txt" listing contained in the Internet-Drafts Shadow
   Directories on (Africa), (Europe), (Pacific Rim), (US East Coast), or (US West Coast).


   This document is designed to assist vendors and other participants in
   large trade shows, such as Networld+Interop, in designing effective
   protection against network and system attacks by unauthorized
   individuals.  Generally, it has been observed that many system
   administrators and trade show coordinators tend to overlook the
   importance of system security at trade shows. In fact, systems at
   trade shows are just as prone to attack as office-based platforms.
   Trade show systems should be treated as seriously as an office
   computer. A breach of security of a trade show system can render (and
   has rendered) a vendor's demonstrations inoperable--quite possibly
   for the entire show!

   This dcoument is not intended to replace the multitudes of comprehensive
   books on the subject of Internet security.  Rather, its purpose is to
   provide a checklist-style collection of frequently overlooked, simple
   ways to minimize the chance of a costly attack.  Vendors are
   encouraged to pay special attention to this document and share it
   with all associated representatives.

Physical Security

Gwinn                                                           [Page 1]

   Before addressing the technical, one of the most frequently
   underrated (and overlooked) security breaches is the simple low-tech
   attack.  The common victim is the one who leaves a console logged in,
   perhaps as root, and walks away.  Other times, an anonymous "helpful
   soul" might ask for a password in order to assist the user in
   "identifying a problem."  This type of method allows an intruder,
   especially one logged in as "root", access to system files.


   * Educate sales and support staff as to the importance of keeping
     an eye on logged-in systems--especially "root" or other
     privileged accounts.
   * Identify individuals who are not using exhibit systems for their
     intended purpose (i.e. playing "Quake" or "Doom" on one of
     your workstations).
   * Request identification from anyone wishing to access systems
     for maintenance purposes unless they are known personally.

System Security

   This section discusses technical security procedures for workstations
   on the vendor network.  Although primarily aimed at Unix systems,
   many general procedures can be applied to other platforms.

Password Security

   Lack of passwords or easy to guess passwords are a relatively low-
   tech door into systems, but are responsible for a significant number
   of breakins. Good passwords are a cornerstone of system security.


   * Check /etc/passwd for lack of passwords. Some vendors ship systems
     with null passwords, in some cases even in root accounts.
   * Change passwords, especially system passwords.
   * Mix case, numbers and punctuation especially on root passwords.
   * Change system passwords on a regular basis.

Extra "root" Accounts

   Some system vendors have been known to ship systems with accounts,
   other than root, that have root privileges (UID=0). For example, some
   vendors may include a separate system administration account that
   places a user in a specific administrative program. If a system does
   not need additional root accounts, these can be disabled by placing
   "*" in the password field of /etc/passwd. Check all systems for extra
   "root" accounts and either disable them or change their password as

Gwinn                                                           [Page 2]


Use of Authentication Tokens

   Authentication tokens such as SecureID, Cryptocard, DES Gold and
   others, provide a method of producing "one-use" passwords for
   specific access.  The advantages are obvious. Remember that there are
   many packet sniffers and other administration tools constantly
   watching the network-especially at a large network-oriented trade
   show. Typed passwords, by default, are sent clear text across the
   network, allowing others to view them. Authentication tokens provide
   a password that is only valid for that one instance, and are useless
   after they are used. A logical extension of the use of authentication
   tokens would be to use them for "return trips home" (show network
   back to a home site) to minimize the chance of off-site security


   * Contact vendors of authentication tokens/cards for further
     information as to how to integrate into specific environments, or
     on to specific platforms.
   * The public-domain utility "cryptosu" (csu), when used with a
     Cryptocard, provides a replacement for Unix's "su" command,
     employing a challenge/response style of authentication for root

Anonymous FTP

   Anonymous FTP accounts can easily turn into a security hole.  The
   simplest rule-of-thumb to follow is to disable this service if it is
   not specifically needed.  However, if anonymous FTP is to be used,
   the following tips may provide assistance into securing it.

   * When a user logs in as "anonymous", they should be locked into a
     specific directory tree. Be sure that it properly chroots to the
     appropriate directory. A "cd /" should put an anonymous user at the
     top of a tree.
   * Some systems may allow symbolic links to take a user outside the
     allowed tree. Verify all links inside the anonymous hierarchy.
   * Make sure that ftp's root directory is owned by someone other than
     the 'ftp' account. Typically, it should be owned by "root".
   * Examine the need for a world-writeable incoming directory. Many
     sites use these as a way for outside users to transfer files into
     the site. This, however, can turn into an archive (and frequently
     does) for stolen software. Removing the "read" bit from the
     directory permissions (chmod 733) prohibits an anonymous user from
     being able to list the contents of a directory. Files can be

Gwinn                                                           [Page 3]

     deposited as usual, but not retrieved unless the exact name of the
     file is known.

NFS Exports

   Exporting an writeable NFS filesystem to the world grants anyone the
   ability to read and write any file in the exported mount point. If
   this is done, for example, with a system directory such as "/" or
   "/etc", it is a simple matter to edit password files to create one-
   self access to a system. Therefore, /etc/exports should be closely
   examined to be certain that nothing of a sensitive nature is exported
   to anyone but another trusted host. Anything exported to the general
   public should be exported "read-only".

Trusted Hosts

   Trusted host entries are a method for allowing other hosts
   "equivalent" security access to another host computer. Some vendors
   ship systems with open trusted host files. This should be addressed.


   * Check for a '+' entry (all systems trusted) in /etc/hosts.equiv and
     all ".rhosts" files (there may be multiple .rhosts files) and
     remove it.
   * Check for an "xhost +" entry in the "...X11/xdm/Xsession" file.
     Most often, an "xhost" entry will appear with a pathname such as
     "/usr/local/lib/xhost +". This should be disabled.

SetUID and SetGID binaries

   The "suid" bit on a system executable program allows the program to
   execute as the owner. A program that is setUID to "root" will allow
   the program to execute with root privileges. There are multiple
   legitimate reasons for a program to have root privileges, and many
   do. However, it may be unusual to have suid programs in user
   directories, or other non-system places. A scan of the filesystems
   can turn up any program with its suid or sgid bit set. Before
   disabling any programs, however, it is strongly suggested that the
   legitimacy be confirmed.


   * "find / -user root -perm -4000 -print" will find any occurrence of
     a setuid file anywhere in the system, including those on NFS
     mounted partitions.
   * "find / -group kmem -perm -2000 -print" will do the same for kmem
     group permissions.

Gwinn                                                           [Page 4]

System Directory Ownership and Write Permissions

   Check ownership of all system directories and permissions needed to
   write or modify files. A directory with permissions such as
   "drwxrwxrwx" (such as /tmp) is world-writeable and anyone can create
   or modify files in such area. Pay special attention to "/" and
   "/etc". These should be owned by some system account-not by an
   individual user. If in doubt, contact the vendor of the system
   software for confirmation of these settings.

Network Services in /etc/inetd

   Any servers not needed should be disabled. The notorious "R services"
   (rexec, rsh, and rlogin) are particularly prone to security problems
   and should be disabled unless specifically needed. If "R services"
   are required, pay particular attention to trusted hosts, and be aware
   of the risk of IP spoofing attacks from machines "pretending" to be
   trusted hosts.


   * Comment out "R services" (rexec, rsh, rlogin) in /etc/inetd.
   * Check for unknown or unneeded services.

Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP)

   TFTP can be an easy way for an intruder to access system files. A
   good practice is to disable TFTP if it is not needed. If it is
   needed, check to see that sensitive files are not accessible.
   Attempting to tftp files such as /etc/passwd or /etc/motd will verify
   accessiblity of a system from the outside.

TCP Connection Montoring

   Public domain software (TCP Wrappers or "tcpd") allows TCP
   connections to be restricted and monitored on a host by host basis.
   This software can be configured to notify an administrator (as well
   as syslog) attempts to access the host by unauthorized parties. This
   software is available from:

BIND (Berkeley Internet Name Daemon)

   Earlier versions of BIND have been prone to various attacks. If a
   host is going to be acting as DNS, the latest version of BIND should
   be used.  It can be downloaded from:

Gwinn                                                           [Page 5]

Sendmail and Mailer Security

   A great number of previous versions of Sendmail have known security
   holes.  All Sendmail versions should be checked for the most recent
   version.  Alternatively, operating system vendors should be consulted
   for their most recent release.

Web Server cgi-bin Security

   All server cgi-bin scripts and binaries should be checked (especially
   the "...httpd/cgi-bin" directory) for those that allow shell commands
   to be executed. Many attacks, of recent months, have centered around
   the use of utilities such as "phf" for accessing /etc/passwd on a
   target system. Any cgi that is not needed in the course of operation
   of a web server should be removed.

Other Suggestions

   * Check with the vendor of operating systems for known security
     issues. Make certain that all systems have the latest version of
     the software as well as any security patches to fix specific

   * Examine log files on the host frequently. The "last" command will
     furnish information on recent logins and where they came from. The
     "syslogs" will contain more specific information on system events.
     Web server logfiles (...httpd/log/access_log and
     ...httpd/log/error_log) will contain information on who has been
     accessing a WWW server, what has been accessed, and what has

   * Good backups are the best defense against system damage. A
     rule-of-thumb is to "back information up when it can't afford to be

General Network Security

   As would be expected at trade shows (large or otherwise), there are
   many entities running packet sniffers. Most are vendors who have a
   legitimate need to run them during the course of product
   demonstrations. A caveat to this is that there are many "listening
   ears" on network segments-any of whom can "hear" or "see" information
   as it crosses the net. Particularly prone to eavesdropping are telnet
   sessions. A good rule of thumb is to assume that "when you type your
   password, the only one that doesn't see it is you!"

Gwinn                                                           [Page 6]

   It is a good practice to not log in (or "su") to an account with root
   privileges, across the network if at all possible. As mentioned
   previously, authentication tokens are a simple way to add security to
   system account access.

Packet Filtering

   Many routers support basic packet filtering. Below is listed a good
   "general" packet filter approach. The approach itself is ordered into

   * General global denials/acceptance.

   * Specific global service denials.

   * Specific service acceptance.

   * Final denial of all other TCP/UDP services.

   Based on this theory, a good approach to a filter ruleset, in order
   of execution priority, might be:

   General Global Denials/Acceptance

   1 Filter spoofed source addresses by interface. Match source
     addresses to routing information available for the interface.
     Discard packets with source addresses arriving on one interface
     (from the "outside" for example) claiming a source address on
     another interface (the "inside").
   2 Filter all source routed packets unless source routing is
     specifically needed.
   3 Allow outbound connections from "inside" hosts.
   4 Allow established TCP connections (protocol field contains 6 and
     the TCP flags field either contains ACK or does NOT contain SYN
     bit). Only filter requests for 'new' connections.
   5 Filter 'new' connections with source port of 25. Prevents people
     from pretending to be a remote mail server.
   6 Filter loopback address (source address Prevents
     packets resulting from misconfigured DNS resolver.

   Specific Global Service Denials

   1 If not required, specifically block all "R-command" ports
     (destination ports 512-515).
   2 Block telnet (destination port 23) from any host not requiring
     telnet access from the outside.
   3 Add specific filters to deny other specific protocols to the
     network, as needed.

Gwinn                                                           [Page 7]

   Specific Host/Service Acceptance

   1 Add general open access, if desired, to specific "public" hosts
     (unsecure FTP or WWW servers).
   2 Allow SMTP (source and destination port 25) for electronic mail.
   3 Allow inbound FTP connections (source port 20).
   4 Allow DNS (source and destination port 53, UDP & TCP). If zone
     transfers are not needed, block the TCP ports.
   5 Allow RIP packets in (source and destination port 520, UDP).
   6 Add specific filters to allow other desired specific protocols
     and/or open certain ports to specific machines.

   Final Service Denial

   1 Deny all other UDP and TCP services not addressed in the previous

Author's Address

   R. Allen Gwinn, Jr.
   Associate Director, Computing
   Business Information Center
   Southern Methodist University
   Dallas, TX  75275

   Phone:  214/768-3186
   EMail:  or


Gwinn                                                           [Page 8]
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