Posts Tagged ‘secure shell’

Maximal protection against SSH attacks. If your server has to stay with open SSH (Secure Shell) port open to the world

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Reading Time: 5minutes
Brute Force Attack SSH screen, Script kiddie attacking
If you’re a a remote Linux many other Unix based OSes, you have defitenily faced the security threat of many failed ssh logins or as it’s better known a brute force attack

During such attacks your /var/log/messages or /var/log/auth gets filled in with various failed password logs like for example:

Feb 3 20:25:50 linux sshd[32098]: Failed password for invalid user oracle from 95.154.249.193 port 51490 ssh2
Feb 3 20:28:30 linux sshd[32135]: Failed password for invalid user oracle1 from 95.154.249.193 port 42778 ssh2
Feb 3 20:28:55 linux sshd[32141]: Failed password for invalid user test1 from 95.154.249.193 port 51072 ssh2
Feb 3 20:30:15 linux sshd[32163]: Failed password for invalid user test from 95.154.249.193 port 47481 ssh2
Feb 3 20:33:20 linux sshd[32211]: Failed password for invalid user testuser from 95.154.249.193 port 51731 ssh2
Feb 3 20:35:32 linux sshd[32249]: Failed password for invalid user user from 95.154.249.193 port 38966 ssh2
Feb 3 20:35:59 linux sshd[32256]: Failed password for invalid user user1 from 95.154.249.193 port 55850 ssh2
Feb 3 20:36:25 linux sshd[32268]: Failed password for invalid user user3 from 95.154.249.193 port 36610 ssh2
Feb 3 20:36:52 linux sshd[32274]: Failed password for invalid user user4 from 95.154.249.193 port 45514 ssh2
Feb 3 20:37:19 linux sshd[32279]: Failed password for invalid user user5 from 95.154.249.193 port 54262 ssh2
Feb 3 20:37:45 linux sshd[32285]: Failed password for invalid user user2 from 95.154.249.193 port 34755 ssh2
Feb 3 20:38:11 linux sshd[32292]: Failed password for invalid user info from 95.154.249.193 port 43146 ssh2
Feb 3 20:40:50 linux sshd[32340]: Failed password for invalid user peter from 95.154.249.193 port 46411 ssh2
Feb 3 20:43:02 linux sshd[32372]: Failed password for invalid user amanda from 95.154.249.193 port 59414 ssh2
Feb 3 20:43:28 linux sshd[32378]: Failed password for invalid user postgres from 95.154.249.193 port 39228 ssh2
Feb 3 20:43:55 linux sshd[32384]: Failed password for invalid user ftpuser from 95.154.249.193 port 47118 ssh2
Feb 3 20:44:22 linux sshd[32391]: Failed password for invalid user fax from 95.154.249.193 port 54939 ssh2
Feb 3 20:44:48 linux sshd[32397]: Failed password for invalid user cyrus from 95.154.249.193 port 34567 ssh2
Feb 3 20:45:14 linux sshd[32405]: Failed password for invalid user toto from 95.154.249.193 port 42350 ssh2
Feb 3 20:45:42 linux sshd[32410]: Failed password for invalid user sophie from 95.154.249.193 port 50063 ssh2
Feb 3 20:46:08 linux sshd[32415]: Failed password for invalid user yves from 95.154.249.193 port 59818 ssh2
Feb 3 20:46:34 linux sshd[32424]: Failed password for invalid user trac from 95.154.249.193 port 39509 ssh2
Feb 3 20:47:00 linux sshd[32432]: Failed password for invalid user webmaster from 95.154.249.193 port 47424 ssh2
Feb 3 20:47:27 linux sshd[32437]: Failed password for invalid user postfix from 95.154.249.193 port 55615 ssh2
Feb 3 20:47:54 linux sshd[32442]: Failed password for www-data from 95.154.249.193 port 35554 ssh2
Feb 3 20:48:19 linux sshd[32448]: Failed password for invalid user temp from 95.154.249.193 port 43896 ssh2
Feb 3 20:48:46 linux sshd[32453]: Failed password for invalid user service from 95.154.249.193 port 52092 ssh2
Feb 3 20:49:13 linux sshd[32458]: Failed password for invalid user tomcat from 95.154.249.193 port 60261 ssh2
Feb 3 20:49:40 linux sshd[32464]: Failed password for invalid user upload from 95.154.249.193 port 40236 ssh2
Feb 3 20:50:06 linux sshd[32469]: Failed password for invalid user debian from 95.154.249.193 port 48295 ssh2
Feb 3 20:50:32 linux sshd[32479]: Failed password for invalid user apache from 95.154.249.193 port 56437 ssh2
Feb 3 20:51:00 linux sshd[32492]: Failed password for invalid user rds from 95.154.249.193 port 45540 ssh2
Feb 3 20:51:26 linux sshd[32501]: Failed password for invalid user exploit from 95.154.249.193 port 53751 ssh2
Feb 3 20:51:51 linux sshd[32506]: Failed password for invalid user exploit from 95.154.249.193 port 33543 ssh2
Feb 3 20:52:18 linux sshd[32512]: Failed password for invalid user postgres from 95.154.249.193 port 41350 ssh2
Feb 3 21:02:04 linux sshd[32652]: Failed password for invalid user shell from 95.154.249.193 port 54454 ssh2
Feb 3 21:02:30 linux sshd[32657]: Failed password for invalid user radio from 95.154.249.193 port 35462 ssh2
Feb 3 21:02:57 linux sshd[32663]: Failed password for invalid user anonymous from 95.154.249.193 port 44290 ssh2
Feb 3 21:03:23 linux sshd[32668]: Failed password for invalid user mark from 95.154.249.193 port 53285 ssh2
Feb 3 21:03:50 linux sshd[32673]: Failed password for invalid user majordomo from 95.154.249.193 port 34082 ssh2
Feb 3 21:04:43 linux sshd[32684]: Failed password for irc from 95.154.249.193 port 50918 ssh2
Feb 3 21:05:36 linux sshd[32695]: Failed password for root from 95.154.249.193 port 38577 ssh2
Feb 3 21:06:30 linux sshd[32705]: Failed password for bin from 95.154.249.193 port 53564 ssh2
Feb 3 21:06:56 linux sshd[32714]: Failed password for invalid user dev from 95.154.249.193 port 34568 ssh2
Feb 3 21:07:23 linux sshd[32720]: Failed password for root from 95.154.249.193 port 43799 ssh2
Feb 3 21:09:10 linux sshd[32755]: Failed password for invalid user bob from 95.154.249.193 port 50026 ssh2
Feb 3 21:09:36 linux sshd[32761]: Failed password for invalid user r00t from 95.154.249.193 port 58129 ssh2
Feb 3 21:11:50 linux sshd[537]: Failed password for root from 95.154.249.193 port 58358 ssh2

This brute force dictionary attacks often succeed where there is a user with a weak a password, or some old forgotten test user account.
Just recently on one of the servers I administrate I have catched a malicious attacker originating from Romania, who was able to break with my system test account with the weak password tset .

Thanksfully the script kiddie was unable to get root access to my system, so what he did is he just started another ssh brute force scanner to crawl the net and look for some other vulnerable hosts.

As you read in my recent example being immune against SSH brute force attacks is a very essential security step, the administrator needs to take on a newly installed server.

The easiest way to get read of the brute force attacks without using some external brute force filtering software like fail2ban can be done by:

1. By using an iptables filtering rule to filter every IP which has failed in logging in more than 5 times

To use this brute force prevention method you need to use the following iptables rules:
linux-host:~# /sbin/iptables -I INPUT -p tcp --dport 22 -i eth0 -m state -state NEW -m recent -set
linux-host:~# /sbin/iptables -I INPUT -p tcp --dport 22 -i eth0 -m state -state NEW
-m recent -update -seconds 60 -hitcount 5 -j DROP

This iptables rules will filter out the SSH port to an every IP address with more than 5 invalid attempts to login to port 22

2. Getting rid of brute force attacks through use of hosts.deny blacklists

sshbl – The SSH blacklist, updated every few minutes, contains IP addresses of hosts which tried to bruteforce into any of currently 19 hosts (all running OpenBSD, FreeBSD or some Linux) using the SSH protocol. The hosts are located in Germany, the United States, United Kingdom, France, England, Ukraine, China, Australia, Czech Republic and setup to report and log those attempts to a central database. Very similar to all the spam blacklists out there.

To use sshbl you will have to set up in your root crontab the following line:

*/60 * * * * /usr/bin/wget -qO /etc/hosts.deny http://www.sshbl.org/lists/hosts.deny

To set it up from console issue:

linux-host:~# echo '*/60 * * * * /usr/bin/wget -qO /etc/hosts.deny http://www.sshbl.org/lists/hosts.deny' | crontab -u root -

These crontab will download and substitute your system default hosts with the one regularly updated on sshbl.org , thus next time a brute force attacker which has been a reported attacker will be filtered out as your Linux or Unix system finds out the IP matches an ip in /etc/hosts.deny

The /etc/hosts.deny filtering rules are written in a way that only publicly known brute forcer IPs will only be filtered for the SSH service, therefore other system services like Apache or a radio, tv streaming server will be still accessible for the brute forcer IP.

It’s a good practice actually to use both of the methods 😉
Thanks to Static (Multics) a close friend of mine for inspiring this article.

Poderosa a tabbed Terminal Emulator (PuTTY Windows Alternative)

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Reading Time: 2minutes
Even though, I rarely use Windows to connect to remote servers using SSH or Telnet protocols in some cases I’m forced to do that (in cases I’m away from my Linux notebook). I’m doing my best to keep away from logging anywhere via SSH using Windows as when using Windows you never know what kind of spyware, malware or Viruses is already on the system, not to mention Microsoft are sniffing a lot if not everything which is typed on the keyboard… Anyways, usually I use Putty as a quick way to access a remote SSH, however pitily PuTTY lacks an embedded functionality for Tabs and each new connection to a server I had to run a new instance of PuTTY. This is okay if you need to access a single server but in some cases where access to multple servers is necessery lacking the tab functionality and starting 10 times putty is really irritating and one forgets what kind of connection is present on which PuTTY instance.

Earlier on, I’ve blogged about the existence of PuTTY Connection Manager PuTTY add-on program which is a PuTTY wrapper which enables PuTTY to be used with Connection Tabs feature, however installing two programs is quite inconvenient, especially if you have to do this every few days (in case if travelling a lot).

Luckily there is another terminal emulator free program for Windows called PodeRoSA which natively supports a tabbed Secure Shell connections.
If you want to get some experience with it check out Poderosa’s website , here is also a screenshot of the program running few ssh encrypted connections in tabs on a Windows host.

Poderosa Windows ssh / telnet tabs terminal emulator screenshot
Another good reason that one might consider using Poderosa instead of PuTTY is the Apache License under which Poderosa is developed. Currently the Apache License is compatible with GPL free software license which makes the program fully free software. The PuTTY license is under BSD and MIT and some other weird custom license not 100% compatible with GPL and hence PuTTY can be considered less free software in terms of freedom.

How to Prevent Server inaccessibility by using a secondary SSH Server access port

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Reading Time: 2minutes
One of the Debian servers’s SSH daemon suddenly become inaccessible today. While trying to ssh I experienced the following error:

$ ssh root@my-server.net -v
OpenSSH_5.8p1 Debian-2, OpenSSL 0.9.8o 01 Jun 2010
debug1: Reading configuration data /etc/ssh/ssh_config
debug1: Applying options for *
debug1: Connecting to mx.soccerfame.com [83.170.104.169] port 22.
debug1: Connection established.
debug1: identity file /home/hipo/.ssh/id_rsa type -1
debug1: identity file /home/hipo/.ssh/id_rsa-cert type -1
debug1: identity file /home/hipo/.ssh/id_dsa type -1
debug1: identity file /home/hipo/.ssh/id_dsa-cert type -1
...
Connection closed by remote host

Interestingly only the SSH server and sometimes the mail server was failing to respond and therefore any mean to access the server was lost. Anyways some of the services on the server for example Nginx continued working just fine.
Some time ago while still working for design.bgweb development company, I’ve experienced some similar errors with SSH servers, so I already had a clue, on a way to work around the issue and to secure myself against the situation to loose access to remote server because the secure shell daemon has broken up.

My work around is actually very simple, I run a secondary sshd (different sshd instance) listening on a different port number.

To do so I invoke the sshd daemon on port 2207 like so:

debian:~# /usr/sbin/sshd -p 2207
debian:~#

Besides that to ensure my sshd -p 2207 will be running on next boot I add:

/usr/sbin/sshd -p 2207

to /etc/rc.local (before the script end line exit 0 ). I do set the sshd -p 2207 to run via /etc/rc.local on purpose instead of directly adding a Port 2207 line in /etc/ssh/sshd_config. The reason, why I’m not using /etc/ssh/sshd_config is that I’m not sure if using the sshd config to set a secondary port does run the port under a different sshd parent. If using the config doesn’t run the separate ssh port under a different server parent this will mean that once the main parent hangs, the secondary port will become inaccessible as well.