Premier IT Outsourcing and Support Services within the UK

User Tools

Site Tools


Network Working Group A. Gwinn Request for Comments: 2179 Networld+Interop NOC Team Category: Informational July 1997

                  Network Security For Trade Shows

Status of this Memo

 This memo provides information for the Internet community.  This memo
 does not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of
 this memo is unlimited.


 This document is designed to assist vendors and other participants in
 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 at least 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 -- an exhibitor's demonstrations
 inoperable -- sometimes for the entire event!
 This document 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.
 We encourage exhibitors to pay special attention to this document and
 share it with all associated representatives.

Physical Security

 Before addressing technical security issues, 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 leaves the system.  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.

Gwinn Informational [Page 1] RFC 2179 Network Security For Trade Shows July 1997

  • Educate sales and support staff regarding system logins, especially

"root" or other privileged accounts.

  • Identify individuals who are not using exhibit systems for their

intended purpose, especially non-booth personnel.

  • Request identification from anyone wishing to access systems

for maintenance purposes unless their identities are known.

System Security

 This section discusses technical security procedures for workstations
 on the vendor network.  Although specifics tend to be for Unix
 systems, general procedures apply to all 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.
 By default, PC operating systems like Windows 95 and MacOS do not
 provide adequate password security. The Windows login password
 provides no security (hitting the "ESC" key allows the user to bypass
 password entry). Password security for these machines is possible,
 but is beyond the scope of this document.
  • Check /etc/passwd on Unix systems and the user administration

application on other systems for lack of passwords. Some vendors

   ship systems with null passwords, in some cases even for
   privileged accounts.
 * Change passwords, especially system and root passwords.
 * Mix case, numbers and punctuation, especially on privileged
 * Change system passwords on a regular basis.
 * Do not use passwords relating to the event, the company, or
   products being displayed.  Systems personnel at Networld+Interop,
   when asked to assist booth personnel, often guess even root

Gwinn Informational [Page 2] RFC 2179 Network Security For Trade Shows July 1997

Extra Privileged Accounts

 Some system vendors have been known to ship systems with multiple
 privileged accounts (for example, Unix systems with accounts that
 have root privileges [UID=0]). Some vendors may include a separate
 system administration account that places a user in a specific
 administrative program. Each additional privileged account presents
 yet another opportunity for abuse.
 Generally, if a Unix system does not need additional root accounts,
 these can be disabled by placing "*" in the password field of
 /etc/passwd, or by using the administrative tool when a system
 employees enhanced security. Verify all systems for extra privileged
 accounts and either disable them or change their password as
 Make certain that privileged accounts are inaccessible from anywhere
 other than the system console.  Frequently systems rely on files such
 as /etc/securettys for a list of "secure" terminals.  As a general
 rule, unless a terminal is in this file, a root login is not
 possible.  Specific use of this feature should be covered in the
 system's documentation files.
  • Check /etc/passwd on Unix systems and the user administration

application on other systems for additional privileged accounts.

  • Disable remote login for privileged accounts.
  • Disable any unnecessary privileged accounts.
  • Limit logins from root accounts to "secure" terminals or the

system console.

Use of Authentication Tokens

 Authentication tokens such as SecureID, Cryptocard, DES Gold and
 others, provide a method of producing "one-time" passwords.  The
 principle advantage in a trade-show environment is to render
 worthless, packets captured by sniffers on the network.  It should be
 treated as fact, that there are many packet sniffers and other
 administration tools constantly (legitimately) 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 that.  A logical
 extension of the use of authentication tokens would be to use them
 for "trips home" (from the show network to a home site) to minimize
 the chance of off-site security problems.

Gwinn Informational [Page 3] RFC 2179 Network Security For Trade Shows July 1997

 An alternative to these tokens is the secure shell ("ssh") protocol
 which provides an encrypted connection between clients and servers.
 This connection can carry both login traffic and arbitrary port-to-
 port communication, and is a powerful tool for securing an in-booth
 network and communications to and from remote systems.
  • 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
 * Explore the use of ssh clients and servers.

Anonymous FTP

 Anonymous FTP accounts can easily turn into a security hole.  Disable
 this service if not specifically needed.  In the event that anonymous
 FTP is to be used, the following tips may help secure it.
  • When a user logs in as "anonymous", they should be locked into a

specific directory tree. Be sure that FTPd properly chroots to the

   appropriate directory. A "cd /" should put an anonymous user at the
   top of the "public" tree, and not the system's root directory.
 * Some systems may allow symbolic links (or "shortcuts") to take a
   user outside the allowed tree. Verify all links inside the
   anonymous FTP hierarchy.
 * Make sure that ftp's root directory is "owned" by someone other
   than the 'ftp' account. Typically, it should be owned by "root".
 * Do not use a world-writable incoming directory unless absolutely
   necessary. Many sites use these as a way for users to transfer
   files into the site. This can, and frequently does, turn into an
   archive for stolen software (referred to by the pirate community as
 * Removing read permissions from the directory permissions (chmod 733
   on Unix systems) prohibits an anonymous user from being able to
   list the contents of a directory. Files can be deposited as usual,
   but not retrieved unless the user knows the exact name of the file.

Network File Sharing

 Writable file shares without some form of security are invitations to
 destruction of information and demonstrations. Whether using NFS on
 Unix systems, or PC sharing facilities like CIFS, AppleShare, or
 NetWare, close attention should be paid to security of the files

Gwinn Informational [Page 4] RFC 2179 Network Security For Trade Shows July 1997

 exported.  Keep in mind that one's competition frequently shares the
 same network at a trade show!  Security for both read and write
 access should be employed and each access point examined.
 Exporting a writable 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", and verified for the
 information that is available via the file shares.
  • Do not provide file sharing space unless needed.
  • Verify where exported information will be "visible".
  • Do not maintain any writable shares unless absolutely necessary!

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.  Make certain that this
 issue is addressed.
  • On Unix systems, 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 +". Remove this.

SetUID and SetGID binaries (Unix systems)

 On Unix systems, 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 individual 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, check the legitimacy of the

Gwinn Informational [Page 5] RFC 2179 Network Security For Trade Shows July 1997

  • "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.

System Directory Ownership and Write Permissions

 Check ownership of all system directories and permissions needed to
 write or modify files. There is no simple way to do this on PC
 operating systems like Windows NT without simply checking all files
 and directories or using a version of "ls" that will list ACLs.
 On Unix systems, a directory with permissions such as "drwxrwxrwx"
 (such as /tmp) is world-writable 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.
 When in doubt, contact the vendor of the system software for
 confirmation of the appropriate directory or file permissions.

Network Services

 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.  Pay particular
 attention to trusted hosts files, and be aware of the risk of IP
 spoofing attacks from machines "pretending" to be trusted hosts.
  • On Unix systems, comment out "R services" (rexec, rsh, rlogin) in


  • Check for other unknown or unneeded services.

Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP)

 TFTP can be an easy way for an intruder to access system files. It is
 good general practice to disable TFTP.  If TFTP is needed, verify
 that only files targeted for export are accessible.  A simple way to
 check security is to attempt to tftp files such as /etc/passwd or
 /etc/motd to check accessiblity of system files.

Gwinn Informational [Page 6] RFC 2179 Network Security For Trade Shows July 1997

TCP Connection Monitoring

 Public domain software (TCP Wrappers or "tcpd" for Unix systems)
 allow restriction and monitoring of TCP connections on a host by host
 basis. Systems can be configured to notify an administrator and
 syslog when any unauthorized party attempts to access the host. 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, use the latest version of BIND.
 It is available at:

Sendmail and Mailer Security

 A great number of previous versions of Sendmail have known security
 holes.  Check installed sendmail for the most recent version.
 Alternatively, consult the operating system vendor to get the most
 recent release for the platform.

Web Server Scripting Security

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

Other Suggestions

  • Check with the vendor of the operating system for known security

issues. Make certain that all systems have the latest version of

   software--especially security patches to fix specific problems.
  • Examine log files on the host frequently. On Unix systems, the

"last" command will furnish information on recent logins and where

   they came from. The "syslogs" or "Event Viewer" will contain more
   specific information on system events.

Gwinn Informational [Page 7] RFC 2179 Network Security For Trade Shows July 1997

  • 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. Perform

backups before placing a system on the trade show network then

   continue backups throughout the show and again following the event.
   A final backup set is useful to examine for possible attempts at
   (or successful) penetrations of system security.

General Network Security

 As would be expected at network trade shows (large or otherwise),
 there are many entities running packet sniffers. Most are exhibitors
 who have a legitimate need to run them during the course of product
 demonstrations. However, be aware 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!"
 It is a good practice to not log in (or "su") to an account with
 privileges across the network if at all possible. As mentioned
 previously, authentication tokens and ssh are a simple way to add
 security to system account access.

Packet Filtering

 Many routers support basic packet filtering.  If a router can be
 deployed between the local network and the show's network, general
 basic packet filtering should be employed.  Below is 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 the theory of denying everything that you don't know is
 acceptable traffic, a good approach to a filter ruleset, in order of
 execution priority, might be:

Gwinn Informational [Page 8] RFC 2179 Network Security For Trade Shows July 1997

 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 from a misconfigured DNS resolver.
 Specific Global Service Denials
 1 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. (If you use ssh, you can
   block it from all hosts!)
 3 Add specific filters to deny other specific protocols to the
   network, as needed.
 Specific Host/Service Acceptance
 1 Add specific access to specific "public" hosts' services
   (unsecure FTP or WWW servers).
 2 Allow SMTP (source and destination port 25) for electronic mail
   to the mail server(s).
 3 Allow inbound FTP connections (source port 20) to the FTP server(s).
 4 Allow DNS (source and destination port 53, UDP & TCP) to name servers.
   If zone transfers are not needed, block the TCP ports.
 5 Allow RIP packets in (source and destination port 520, UDP), if
 6 Add specific filters to allow other desired specific protocols
   or to open certain ports to specific machines.
 Final Service Denial
 1 Deny all other UDP and TCP services not allowed by the previous

Gwinn Informational [Page 9] RFC 2179 Network Security For Trade Shows July 1997

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

Contributing Writer

 Stephen S. Hultquist
 Worldwide Solutions, Inc.
 4450 Arapahoe Ave., Suite 100
 Boulder, CO  80303
 Phone: +1.303.581.0800

Gwinn Informational [Page 10]

/data/webs/external/dokuwiki/data/pages/rfc/rfc2179.txt · Last modified: 1997/07/18 21:17 by

Donate Powered by PHP Valid HTML5 Valid CSS Driven by DokuWiki