Guide to the Secure Configuration of WRLinux

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This profile contains items common to many embedded Linux installations. Regardless of your system's deployment objective, all of these checks should pass.
This guide presents a catalog of security-relevant configuration settings for WRLinux. It is a rendering of content structured in the eXtensible Configuration Checklist Description Format (XCCDF) in order to support security automation. The SCAP content is is available in the scap-security-guide package which is developed at

Providing system administrators with such guidance informs them how to securely configure systems under their control in a variety of network roles. Policy makers and baseline creators can use this catalog of settings, with its associated references to higher-level security control catalogs, in order to assist them in security baseline creation. This guide is a catalog, not a checklist, and satisfaction of every item is not likely to be possible or sensible in many operational scenarios. However, the XCCDF format enables granular selection and adjustment of settings, and their association with OVAL and OCIL content provides an automated checking capability. Transformations of this document, and its associated automated checking content, are capable of providing baselines that meet a diverse set of policy objectives. Some example XCCDF Profiles, which are selections of items that form checklists and can be used as baselines, are available with this guide. They can be processed, in an automated fashion, with tools that support the Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP). The DISA STIG, which provides required settings for US Department of Defense systems, is one example of a baseline created from this guidance.
Do not attempt to implement any of the settings in this guide without first testing them in a non-operational environment. The creators of this guidance assume no responsibility whatsoever for its use by other parties, and makes no guarantees, expressed or implied, about its quality, reliability, or any other characteristic.
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Revision History

Current version: 0.1.41

  • draft (as of 2018-10-09)


  • cpe:/o:windriver:wrlinux:8

Table of Contents

  1. System Settings
    1. Account and Access Control


contains 11 rules

System Settings   [ref]group

Contains rules that check correct system settings.

contains 11 rules

Account and Access Control   [ref]group

In traditional Unix security, if an attacker gains shell access to a certain login account, they can perform any action or access any file to which that account has access. Therefore, making it more difficult for unauthorized people to gain shell access to accounts, particularly to privileged accounts, is a necessary part of securing a system. This section introduces mechanisms for restricting access to accounts under WRLinux.

contains 11 rules

Secure Session Configuration Files for Login Accounts   [ref]group

When a user logs into a Unix account, the system configures the user's session by reading a number of files. Many of these files are located in the user's home directory, and may have weak permissions as a result of user error or misconfiguration. If an attacker can modify or even read certain types of account configuration information, they can often gain full access to the affected user's account. Therefore, it is important to test and correct configuration file permissions for interactive accounts, particularly those of privileged users such as root or system administrators.

contains 7 rules

Ensure that Users Have Sensible Umask Values   [ref]group

The umask setting controls the default permissions for the creation of new files. With a default umask setting of 077, files and directories created by users will not be readable by any other user on the system. Users who wish to make specific files group- or world-readable can accomplish this by using the chmod command. Additionally, users can make all their files readable to their group by default by setting a umask of 027 in their shell configuration files. If default per-user groups exist (that is, if every user has a default group whose name is the same as that user's username and whose only member is the user), then it may even be safe for users to select a umask of 007, making it very easy to intentionally share files with groups of which the user is a member.

contains 2 rules

Ensure the Default Umask is Set Correctly in /etc/profile   [ref]rule

To ensure the default umask controlled by /etc/profile is set properly, add or correct the umask setting in /etc/profile to read as follows:

umask 077


The umask value influences the permissions assigned to files when they are created. A misconfigured umask value could result in files with excessive permissions that can be read or written to by unauthorized users.

Severity:  unknown

References:  5.4.4, CCI-000366, SA-8

Ensure that No Dangerous Directories Exist in Root's Path   [ref]group

The active path of the root account can be obtained by starting a new root shell and running:

# echo $PATH
This will produce a colon-separated list of directories in the path.

Certain path elements could be considered dangerous, as they could lead to root executing unknown or untrusted programs, which could contain malicious code. Since root may sometimes work inside untrusted directories, the . character, which represents the current directory, should never be in the root path, nor should any directory which can be written to by an unprivileged or semi-privileged (system) user.

It is a good practice for administrators to always execute privileged commands by typing the full path to the command.

contains 2 rules

Ensure that Root's Path Does Not Include Relative Paths or Null Directories   [ref]rule

Ensure that none of the directories in root's path is equal to a single . character, or that it contains any instances that lead to relative path traversal, such as .. or beginning a path without the slash (/) character. Also ensure that there are no "empty" elements in the path, such as in these examples:

These empty elements have the same effect as a single . character.


Including these entries increases the risk that root could execute code from an untrusted location.

Severity:  unknown

References:  CCI-000366, CM-6(b)

Ensure that Root's Path Does Not Include World or Group-Writable Directories   [ref]rule

For each element in root's path, run:

# ls -ld DIR
and ensure that write permissions are disabled for group and other.


Such entries increase the risk that root could execute code provided by unprivileged users, and potentially malicious code.

Severity:  unknown

References:  CCI-000366, CM-6(b)

Ensure that User Home Directories are not Group-Writable or World-Readable   [ref]rule

For each human user of the system, view the permissions of the user's home directory:

# ls -ld /home/USER
Ensure that the directory is not group-writable and that it is not world-readable. If necessary, repair the permissions:
# chmod g-w /home/USER
# chmod o-rwx /home/USER

Warning:  This action may involve modifying user home directories. Notify your user community, and solicit input if appropriate, before making this type of change.

User home directories contain many configuration files which affect the behavior of a user's account. No user should ever have write permission to another user's home directory. Group shared directories can be configured in sub-directories or elsewhere in the filesystem if they are needed. Typically, user home directories should not be world-readable, as it would disclose file names to other users. If a subset of users need read access to one another's home directories, this can be provided using groups or ACLs.

Severity:  unknown

References:  CCI-000225, AC-6(7)

Ensure the Logon Failure Delay is Set Correctly in login.defs   [ref]rule

To ensure the logon failure delay controlled by /etc/login.defs is set properly, add or correct the FAIL_DELAY setting in /etc/login.defs to read as follows:



Increasing the time between a failed authentication attempt and re-prompting to enter credentials helps to slow a single-threaded brute force attack.

Severity:  unknown

Protect Accounts by Restricting Password-Based Login   [ref]group

Conventionally, Unix shell accounts are accessed by providing a username and password to a login program, which tests these values for correctness using the /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow files. Password-based login is vulnerable to guessing of weak passwords, and to sniffing and man-in-the-middle attacks against passwords entered over a network or at an insecure console. Therefore, mechanisms for accessing accounts by entering usernames and passwords should be restricted to those which are operationally necessary.

contains 4 rules

Restrict Root Logins   [ref]group

Direct root logins should be allowed only for emergency use. In normal situations, the administrator should access the system via a unique unprivileged account, and then use su or sudo to execute privileged commands. Discouraging administrators from accessing the root account directly ensures an audit trail in organizations with multiple administrators. Locking down the channels through which root can connect directly also reduces opportunities for password-guessing against the root account. The login program uses the file /etc/securetty to determine which interfaces should allow root logins. The virtual devices /dev/console and /dev/tty* represent the system consoles (accessible via the Ctrl-Alt-F1 through Ctrl-Alt-F6 keyboard sequences on a default installation). The default securetty file also contains /dev/vc/*. These are likely to be deprecated in most environments, but may be retained for compatibility. Root should also be prohibited from connecting via network protocols. Other sections of this document include guidance describing how to prevent root from logging in via SSH.

contains 1 rule

Verify Only Root Has UID 0   [ref]rule

If any account other than root has a UID of 0, this misconfiguration should be investigated and the accounts other than root should be removed or have their UID changed.
If the account is associated with system commands or applications the UID should be changed to one greater than "0" but less than "1000." Otherwise assign a UID greater than "1000" that has not already been assigned.


An account has root authority if it has a UID of 0. Multiple accounts with a UID of 0 afford more opportunity for potential intruders to guess a password for a privileged account. Proper configuration of sudo is recommended to afford multiple system administrators access to root privileges in an accountable manner.

Severity:  high

Verify Proper Storage and Existence of Password Hashes   [ref]group

By default, password hashes for local accounts are stored in the second field (colon-separated) in /etc/shadow. This file should be readable only by processes running with root credentials, preventing users from casually accessing others' password hashes and attempting to crack them. However, it remains possible to misconfigure the system and store password hashes in world-readable files such as /etc/passwd, or to even store passwords themselves in plaintext on the system. Using system-provided tools for password change/creation should allow administrators to avoid such misconfiguration.

contains 3 rules

Verify No netrc Files Exist   [ref]rule

The .netrc files contain login information used to auto-login into FTP servers and reside in the user's home directory. These files may contain unencrypted passwords to remote FTP servers making them susceptible to access by unauthorized users and should not be used. Any .netrc files should be removed.


Unencrypted passwords for remote FTP servers may be stored in .netrc files. DoD policy requires passwords be encrypted in storage and not used in access scripts.

Severity:  medium

References:  CCI-000196, IA-5(h), AC-3

Prevent Log In to Accounts With Empty Password   [ref]rule

If an account is configured for password authentication but does not have an assigned password, it may be possible to log into the account without authentication. Remove any instances of the nullok option in /etc/pam.d/system-auth to prevent logins with empty passwords.


If an account has an empty password, anyone could log in and run commands with the privileges of that account. Accounts with empty passwords should never be used in operational environments.

Severity:  high

Verify All Account Password Hashes are Shadowed   [ref]rule

If any password hashes are stored in /etc/passwd (in the second field, instead of an x or *), the cause of this misconfiguration should be investigated. The account should have its password reset and the hash should be properly stored, or the account should be deleted entirely.


The hashes for all user account passwords should be stored in the file /etc/shadow and never in /etc/passwd, which is readable by all users.

Severity:  medium

References:  5.5.2, 3.5.10, IA-5(h), Req-8.2.1

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