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init-linux-harden.sh

README.md

Linux Server Hardener

Bash script that automates server security hardening on a new Linux server.

I wanted to change my VPS(Virtual Private Server) provider and was testing out many providers and many Linux flavours on those VPSes. But before doing anything those servers needed to be given basic amount security and this involved a set of repetitive commands on terminal. Depending on network speed and number of mis-types, these took between 30-90 minutes to perform.

This script is meant to save that time.

*** WARNING ***

This script can potentially make your server inaccessible.

At the very least, read the FAQ section before executing.

If your connection gets reset during this operation, you WILL loose all access to the server.

Status

Stable. Production ready.

Usage

Prerequisites

  • One of the following Linux flavours
    • Debian 8.x
    • Debian 9.x
    • Ubuntu 14.x
    • Ubuntu 16.x
    • Ubuntu 18.x
  • wget should be installed (comes preinstalled on the above OSes anyways)
  • root access to the server

Examples

The script is intended to be executed immediately after you have access to a new Linux server (most likely a VPS) as root.

root@host:~# wget -q https://raw.githubusercontent.com/pratiktri/server_init_harden/master/init-linux-harden.sh -O init-linux-harden.sh && bash ./init-linux-harden.sh -d -q -hide

root@host:~# wget -q https://raw.githubusercontent.com/pratiktri/server_init_harden/master/init-linux-harden.sh -O init-linux-harden.sh && bash ./init-linux-harden.sh --defaultsourcelist --quiet --hide-credentials

There are inherent risks involved with running scripts directly (without reviewing it first) from web - as done above. Everyone does it anyways, but you have been warned.

Available Options

Run the script with below option to see all available options:-

root@host:~# bash <(wget -q https://raw.githubusercontent.com/pratiktri/server_init_harden/master/init-linux-harden.sh -O -) --help

Usage: sudo bash $0 [-u|--username username] [-r|--resetrootpwd] [--defaultsourcelist]
  -u,     --username              Username for your server (If omitted script will choose an username for you)
  -r,     --resetrootpwd          Reset current root password
  -hide,  --hide-credentials      Credentials will hidden from screen and can ONLY be found in the logfile
                                  eg: tail -n 20 logfile
  -d,     --defaultsourcelist     Updates /etc/apt/sources.list to download software from debian.org
  -ou,    --only-user             Only creates the user and its SSH authorizations
                                  NOTE: -r, -d would be ignored

Example: bash ./linux_init_harden.sh --username myuseraccount --resetrootpwd

Below restrictions apply to usernames - 
   - [a-zA-Z0-9] [-] [_] are allowed
   - NO special characters.
   - NO spaces.

What does it do ?

Script performs the following operations:-

  1. Create non-root user and give it "sudo" privilege
  2. Generate passphrage protected ed25519 SSH Keys
  3. Secure "authorized_keys" file
  4. [Optionally] Reset the url for apt repo from VPS provided CDN to OS provided ones
  5. Update + Upgrade + Install softwares (sudo curl screen ufw fail2ban)
  6. Configure UFW
  7. Configure Fail2Ban
  8. Schedule cron for daily system update
  9. [Optionally] Reset root password
  10. Alter SSH options(/etc/ssh/sshd_config) to do the following:-
  • Disable SSH login for root (PermitRootLogin no)
  • Disable SSH login through password for all users (PasswordAuthentication no)
  • Updates path for authoried_keys file
  1. On successfully completing above operations, display the following on screen:-
    • Username
    • User Password
    • SSH Private Key's path on the server
    • SSH Public Key's path on the server
    • SSH Private Key's passphrase
    • (If so opted) New root password
    • SSH Private Key
    • SSH Public Key

Step 2 & Step 5 are most time consuming operations.

If you are stuck on Step 5 for more than 10 minutes, something went wrong in Step 4. Stop (ctrl + c) the script and check log file to see what went wrong.

Step 8 is the most dangerous operation.

Error Handling

Since the script has the potential to make you loose access to your server, it takes a number of steps to recover from an error.

Back up files

Script creates a back of every file that it changes.

Back up files are stored in the same directory as the original file.

Back up file name = (Original File Name) + "." + (Script start timestamp in '%d_%m_%Y-%H_%M_%S' format) + "_bak"

So, if the original file name was sshd_config and the script was started at 25th January 2019 09:15:25, then the backup files name would be sshd_config.25_01_2019-09_15_25_bak

Recovery

Script tries to recover from an error if it can determine that an error has occured. What it does to recover depends on which step the error has occured.

Step 9 (Alter /etc/ssh/sshd_config) is where most danger resides. If this step fails & script can not successfully recovery - then you'll most likely loose all access to your system.

Screenshots

Operation successful and credentials displayed on screen

Success With Credentials on Screen - the command

Success With Credentials on Screen - Prompt to procceed

Success With Credentials on Screen - Execution in Process

Success With Credentials on Screen - Execution Succeeded 1

Success With Credentials on Screen - Execution Succeeded 2

Operation successful and credentials hidden from screen

Success With Credentials Hidden - Execution Succeeded 3

Operation failed and reverted

Failure and revert

Details of each operation

1. Create non-root user and give it "sudo" privilege

You can specify your own username with "--username" or "-u" flag.

If the username provided already exists, then the script will terminate without doing any operation.

When accepting username through "--username", script actively rejects special characters in the name because bash does not act well with special characters. The values accepted by the script [a-zA-Z0-9_-] i.e., alphanumeric and [_] and [-]

If "--username" is not provided, script will randomly generate an username for you. Script generated usernames are 9 character long and are alphanumeric (i.e., numbers & English characters).

Password for the user is always randomly generated. Passwords are 15 character long and are alphanumeric as well.

Error Handling

Failure Impact - Minimal. An additional user on system.

Restoration - Script tries to delete the user along with user's home directory

Impact of Restoration Failure - If the user will linger around in the system. You might have to manually delete the user and its home directory.

After Error - Script will be terminated.

2. Generate passphrage protected ed25519 SSH Keys (Private & Public)

Since password authentications are bad security practice, script will generate a SSH Key and use that for user authentication.

You need the following 3 to be able to access the server after the script is done:-

  • Public Key
  • Private Key
  • Passphrase for the Key

These 3 will be diplayed on screen at the end of the script. Copy them and keep them safe. Without these you won't be able to access the server.

We use OpenSSH keyformat and ed25519 algorithm to generate ours. You can read the reason for that here and here. For additional security the key is secured by a passphrase. This passphrase is randomly generated. Passphrase are 15 character long and are alphanumeric. Algorithm used for user's password and SSH Private Key's passphrase are the same.

Generated keys are placed in ".ssh" sub-directory of the user's (created in step 1 above) home-directory, i.e., /home/[username]/.ssh/

SSH Public Key is then appended to /home/[username]/.ssh/authorized_keys file.

Error Handling

Failure Impact - Minimal. An additional user on system.

Restoration - Script tries to delete the user along with user's home directory.

Impact of Restoration Failure - If restoration of step 2 failed - most probably restoration on step 1 failed as well. At any case - just delete the user's home directory to rid your system of garbage files.

After Error - Script will be terminated.

3. Secure "authorized_keys" file

"authorized_keys" file present in user's .ssh sub-directory contains the Public Key values. These Public Key values are used to authenticate user logins. Since, this is an important file we need to secure it tight.

Following are the file access restrictions that the script applies:-

  • Make root user the owner of /home/[username]/.ssh/ directory and all files inside it.
  • Give root group access to /home/[username]/.ssh/ directory and all files inside it.
  • Make the /home/[username]/.ssh/ directory and all files inside it visible only to the root user.
  • Remove the editing rights on /home/[username]/.ssh/authorized_keys file from every user - including root.
  • Make the /home/[username]/.ssh/authorized_keys file immutable.

Error Handling

Failure Impact - Minimal. An additional user on system.

Restoration - Reset the attributes of "authorized_keys" file. Then deletes the user and its home directory.

Impact of Restoration Failure - User and its home directory would persist. Delete them manually. Some of the files have their attributes modified to make them immutable (i.e. chattr +i ), so while deleting user's home directory manually, remember to remove this attribute (i.e. "chattr -i ).

After Error - Script will be terminated.

4. [Optionally] Reset the url for apt repo from VPS provided CDN to OS provided ones

Most VPS provider change the location from which operating system downloads software from (i.e. apt repository); usually to CDNs that are maintained by them. While, this greatly improves time taken to install applications, it does come with its security implications (what if they insert tracker/sniffer in application?).

However, one can also argue that if the OS (i.e. Linux) is installed by the providers, then OS itself is a more likely place where they might want to insert something dirty.

Depending on which argument you find valid, you can use this option in the script to ensure the default OS-provided CDNs are used. This is done by updating the /etc/apt/sources.list file.

If the script is started with --defaultsourcelist option, then for Debian http://deb.debian.org/debian is used and for Ubuntu http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ is used.

This is disabled by default.

Error Handling

Failure Impact - In the worst case, you will not be able to update or install applications through apt. In the best case, Service providers CDN will continue to be used for apt to install & update applications. Script will continue to next step after restoration

Restoration - Before execution, a back up of sources.list file was made. During restoration, this back up file is copied (over-written) over to sources.list file.

Impact of Restoration Failure - You may not be able to install or update the system. Manually check if any *_bkp file exists in /etc/apt/ directory. If multiple file exist - use the most recent file and rename it to /etc/apt/sources.list

After Error - Script continues to next step after restoration.

5. Updates + Upgrades + Installs required softwares (sudo screen ufw fail2ban)

Pretty self-explanatory.

Error Handling

Failure Impact - Both UFW and Fail2ban CANNOT be configured. So, major part of server hardening will not be successful.

Restoration - Nothing to restore. However, do check the log file to see that went wrong.

Impact of Restoration Failure - None.

After Error - Script continues to next step.

NOTE - As it is evident from above script does not uninstalled already installed programs even when error occors in this step or any other steps. Cause, you might have installed those programs before running the script or those programs might have been preloaded by the OS itself - too many variables to consider.

6. Configure UFW

UFW(Uncomplicated FireWall) makes it easy to manage what kind of internet traffic enters or leaves the server. Without this program you would have to deal with Linux's iptables (which I can not understand at all).

This script sets up UFW so that only ssh(required for user login), http(required for any web application) & https(also required for any web application) traffic are allowed in and out of the server. All other traffic are blocked.

Error Handling

Failure Impact - Less secure server.

Restoration - Disable UFW

Impact of Restoration Failure - Most probably UFW was not installed properly. Check log file for details.

After Error - Continue to next step after restoration.

7. Configure Fail2Ban

While UFW restricts access to ports, the ports that are required (and are allowed by UFW in above step) for our purpose can be exploited by nefarious actors.

Fail2ban watches traffic coming through the allowed ports to determine if it is indeed a legitimate one. This determination is usually done by analyzing various log files being generated by Linux and other applications running on the server. If anything suspicious is found then after a certain number of illegitimate attempts the intruder(IP) is banned. Ban is then lifted after a desired amount of time.

This script sets up Fail2ban as following:-

  • default ban time is 5 hours,
  • Whitelists your server's IP from detection (uses https://ipinfo.io/ip to determine the IP),
  • sets (backend = polling). polling is an algoritm used to check if the log files are updated. This algorithm does not require any additional software and is faster option to choose for our configuration.
  • Explicitly enables protection for ssh with (maxretry = 3) & (bantime = 2592000)

Error Handling

Failure Impact - Less secure server.

Restoration - If back up of /etc/fail2ban/jail.local file found, then that is restored; else back up of /etc/fail2ban/jail.conf is restored. Also, back up of /etc/fail2ban/jail.d/defaults-debian.conf file restored if available.

Impact of Restoration Failure - Potential corruption of Fail2ban configuration. Check log file for details.

After Error - Continue to next step after restoration.

8. Schedule cron for daily system update

While it is a bad idea to schedule automatic installation of updates (read more here), sizable amount of server administration time can be saved by downloading updates when no one is looking.

In this step we schedule a daily crontab (/etc/cron.daily/linux_init_harden_apt_update.sh) to download updates. You would want to manually do the installation running the below command.

user@host:~$ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Error Handling

Failure Impact - Minimal. No auto download of software updates

Restoration - Remove the script file (/etc/cron.daily/linux_init_harden_apt_update.sh).

Impact of Restoration Failure - The cron job might execute once a day and fail. You might have to delete the file (/etc/cron.daily/linux_init_harden_apt_update.sh) manually.

After Error - Continue to next step.

9. [Optionally] Reset root password

Since, VPS providers sends you the password of your VPS's root user in email in plain text. So, password needs to be changed immediately. But, since we will disable root login AND password login in the next step, changing root password might be an overkill. But, still...

Also most VPS providers these days allow you to provide SSH Public Key in their website. If you have done that you can skip this step. It is disabled by default anyways.

To change your root password provide option -r or --resetrootpw. root password will be randomly generated. Passwords are 15 character long and are alphanumeric.

Error Handling

Failure Impact - None. Continue using existing password.

Restoration - Nothing to restore.

Impact of Restoration Failure - None.

After Error - Continue to next step.

10. Alter SSH options

This step contines from step 3 to harden our ssh login. Here, we edit /etc/ssh/sshd_config file to achieve the following:-

  • Disable root login (PermitRootLogin no). No one needs to work on root. The new user created already has root privileges anyways.
  • Disable password login (PasswordAuthentication no). This ensures we can ONLY login though SSH Keys.
  • Specify where to find authorized public keys which are granted login (\.ssh\authorized_keys %h\.ssh\authorized_keys)

Error Handling

Failure Impact - Potentially CATASTROPHIC.

Restoration - Delete user and its home directory; Disable UFW: If back up of /etc/fail2ban/jail.local file found, then that is restored; else back up of /etc/fail2ban/jail.conf is restored. Also, back up of /etc/fail2ban/jail.d/defaults-debian.conf file restored if available. Restore the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file from backup file created before the operation.

Impact of Restoration Failure - Fatal. DO NOT logout of the session. If you do then, you may not be able to log back in. Check the log file to see what went wrong. Issue the following command and see what is the out put. Search the error message on internet for solution.

root@host:~# service sshd restart

After Error - Script will be terminated.

11. Display Summary

All the generated username, passwords, SSH Key location & SSH Keys themselves are displayed on the screen.

This might not be desired (nosy neighbours), on future versions you might find option to NOT show the details on screen and find them from the log file.

NOTE - while we login through SSH Keys, you will still be asked for your password (after logging in) while installing softwares and other operations. So, you NEED ALL of the information displayed on the screen.

The logfile is located in /tmp/ directory - thus will be removed when server reboots. All the details shown on the screen and a lot more can be found in the log. Exact logfile location will be shown on the screen as well.

FAQ

Q - Is the script idempotent?

Ans - NO.

Idempotency

An operation is idempotent if the result of performing it once is exactly the same as the result of performing it repeatedly without any intervening actions.

Q - Why is it not idempotent?

Ans - We take backup of the file which stays on your server after operations. After taking back up of the file - script sometimes comments out older configuration. This is specifically true for Step 4 where we comment out older configurations and append new ones to the end of the file. Also, for the SSH configuration file (/etc/ssh/sshd_conf) where we comment out the line of configuration and add the new configuration below the commented out line. So, if we re-run the script multiple times, those changes would compound as listed below.

  1. Multiple backup files of sources.list in /etc/apt/ directory. eg - sources.list.13_02_2019-01_21_07_bak for each execution.
  2. Many commented out lines on /etc/apt/sources.list file.
  3. Multiple backup files of ALL (.list) files under /etc/apt/sources.d/ directory.
  4. Many commented out lines on ALL (.list) files under /etc/apt/sources.d/ directory.
  5. If softwares would be installed or updated sudo, curl, screen, ufw, fail2ban.
  6. One backup of /etc/fail2ban/jail.conf file.
  7. Multiple backups of /etc/fail2ban/jail.local file
  8. Multiple backups of /etc/fail2ban/jail.d/defaults-debian.conf file
  9. Multiple backups of sshd_config file in /etc/sshd/ directory

Q - What would happen if I rerun the script multiple times? Ans -

  • A new user would be created per execution
  • All changes you have made to /etc/apt/* /*.list files will be overwritten.
  • All changes to /etc/fail2ban/jail.conf file would be skipped (file would NOT be read by fail2ban anymore).
  • Following configuration changes to /etc/fail2ban/jail.local will be overwitten:-
    1. [DEFAULT] bantime
    2. [DEFAULT] backend
    3. [DEFAULT] ignoreip
  • All changes to /etc/fail2ban/jail.d/defaults-debian.conf will be overwritten.
  • Following changes to /etc/sshd/sshd_config file would be overwritten
    1. PermitRootLogin
    2. PasswordAuthentication
    3. AuthorizedKeysFile

Q - What are the files that the script creates or edits?

Ans - Following is the list (in order of execution):-

  1. New - /home/[new-username]/.ssh/[new-username].pem
  2. New - /home/[new-username]/.ssh/[new-username].pem.pub
  3. New - /home/[new-username]/.ssh/authorized_keys
  4. New - /etc/apt/sources.list.[execution-timestamp]_bkp
  5. Edit - /etc/apt/sources.list
  6. New - /etc/apt/sources.d/[anydotlistfile.list].[execution-timestamp]_bkp
  7. Edit - /etc/apt/sources.d/[anydotlistfile.list]
  8. New if it does not exist - /etc/fail2ban/jail.local
  9. New - /etc/fail2ban/jail.conf.[execution-timestamp]_bkp
  10. New if /etc/fail2ban/jail.local exists - _/etc/fail2ban/jail.local.[execution-timestamp]bkp
  11. Edit - /etc/fail2ban/jail.local
  12. New - _/etc/fail2ban/jail.d/defaults-debian.conf[execution-timestamp]bkp
  13. Edit - /etc/fail2ban/jail.d/defaults-debian.conf
  14. New if does not exist - /etc/cron.daily/linux_init_harden_apt_update.sh
  15. New - _/etc/ssh/sshd_config[execution-timestamp]bkp
  16. Edit - /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Q - Why comment out entire files in /etc/apt/ instead of just deleting them and creating new ones with required configurations?

Ans - If there was error creating backup files, you would have no way to restore sources from. We can put more if-else to check if backup creation failed - but that would make the code unreadable. This is a lengthy script; readability is paramount.

Q - Can I execute it as a non-root user?

Ans - User belongs to "sudo" group => Yes User does not belong to "sudo" group => No

Run the script with "sudo" privileges:-

root@host:~# wget -q https://raw.githubusercontent.com/pratiktri/server_init_harden/master/init-linux-harden.sh -O init-linux-harden.sh && sudo bash ./init-linux-harden.sh --username someusername --resetrootpwd --defaultsourcelist --quiet --hide-credentials

root@host:~# wget -q https://raw.githubusercontent.com/pratiktri/server_init_harden/master/init-linux-harden.sh -O init-linux-harden.sh && sudo bash ./init-linux-harden.sh -u someusername -r -d -q -hide

Todo

Bug fixes

  • fail2ban on Ubuntu 14.04 => need apply default-debian.conf to jail.local itself.
  • Exception handle - when curl https://ipinfo.io/ip fails

Roadmap

  • Update README - Assumptions - TOFU, Trust on VPS provider
  • New - Enable LUKS (is it even worth it???)
  • New - DNSCrypt

License

Copyright 2019 Pratik Kumar Tripathy

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at

   http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.

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