In conjunction with file system enhancements like snapshots, FreeBSD offers the security of File System Access Control Lists (ACLs).
Access Control Lists extend the standard UNIX® permission model in a highly compatible (POSIX®.1e) way. This feature permits an administrator to make use of and take advantage of a more sophisticated security model.
To enable ACL support for UFS file systems, the following:
must be compiled into the kernel. If this option has not been compiled in, a warning message will be displayed when attempting to mount a file system supporting ACLs. This option is included in the GENERIC kernel. ACLs rely on extended attributes being enabled on the file system. Extended attributes are natively supported in the next generation UNIX file system, UFS2.
Note: A higher level of administrative overhead is required to configure extended attributes on UFS1 than on UFS2. The performance of extended attributes on UFS2 is also substantially higher. As a result, UFS2 is generally recommended in preference to UFS1 for use with access control lists.
ACLs are enabled by the mount-time
acls, which may be added to /etc/fstab. The mount-time flag can also be automatically set in a
persistent manner using tunefs(8) to modify a
superblock ACLs flag in the file system
header. In general, it is preferred to use the superblock flag for several reasons:
The mount-time ACLs flag cannot be
changed by a remount (mount(8)
-u), only by means of a complete umount(8) and fresh
mount(8). This means
that ACLs cannot be enabled on the root
file system after boot. It also means that you cannot change the disposition of a
file system once it is in use.
Setting the superblock flag will cause the file system to always be mounted with ACLs enabled even if there is not an fstab entry or if the devices re-order. This prevents accidental mounting of the file system without ACLs enabled, which can result in ACLs being improperly enforced, and hence security problems.
Note: We may change the ACLs behavior to allow the flag to be enabled without a complete fresh mount(8), but we consider it desirable to discourage accidental mounting without ACLs enabled, because you can shoot your feet quite nastily if you enable ACLs, then disable them, then re-enable them without flushing the extended attributes. In general, once you have enabled ACLs on a file system, they should not be disabled, as the resulting file protections may not be compatible with those intended by the users of the system, and re-enabling ACLs may re-attach the previous ACLs to files that have since had their permissions changed, resulting in other unpredictable behavior.
File systems with ACLs enabled will show a + (plus) sign in their permission settings when viewed. For example:
drwx------ 2 robert robert 512 Dec 27 11:54 private drwxrwx---+ 2 robert robert 512 Dec 23 10:57 directory1 drwxrwx---+ 2 robert robert 512 Dec 22 10:20 directory2 drwxrwx---+ 2 robert robert 512 Dec 27 11:57 directory3 drwxr-xr-x 2 robert robert 512 Nov 10 11:54 public_html
Here we see that the directory1, directory2, and directory3 directories are all taking advantage of ACLs. The public_html directory is not.
The file system ACLs can be viewed by the getfacl(1) utility. For instance, to view the ACL settings on the test file, one would use the command:
% getfacl test #file:test #owner:1001 #group:1001 user::rw- group::r-- other::r--
To change the ACL settings on this file, invoke the setfacl(1) utility. Observe:
% setfacl -k test
-k flag will remove all of the currently defined
ACLs from a file or file system. The
more preferable method would be to use
-b as it leaves
the basic fields required for ACLs to
% setfacl -m u:trhodes:rwx,group:web:r--,o::--- test
In the aforementioned command, the
-m option was used
to modify the default ACL entries. Since
there were no pre-defined entries, as they were removed by the previous command,
this will restore the default options and assign the options listed. Take care to
notice that if you add a user or group which does not exist on the system, an
“Invalid argument” error will be printed to