Saturday, 23 May 2015

HOWTO: No SSH logins SFTP only chrooted server configuration with OpenSSH

If you are in a situation where you want to set up a SFTP server in a more secure way, don't want to expose anything from the server via SFTP and do not want to enable SSH login on the account allowed to sftp, you might find the information below useful.

What do we want to achive:
  • SFTP server
  • only a specified account is allowed to connect to SFTP
  • nothing outside the SFTP directory is exposed
  • no SSH login is allowed
  • any extra security measures are welcome
To obtain all of the above we will create a dedicated account which will be chroot-ed, its home will be stored on a removable/no always mounted drive (acessing SFTP will not work when the drive is not mounted).

Mount the removable drive which will hold the SFTP area (you might need to add some entry in fstab). 

Create the account to be used for SFTP access (on a Debian system this will do the trick):
# adduser --system --home /media/Store/sftp --shell /usr/sbin/nologin sftp

This will create the account sftp which has login disabled, shell is /usr/sbin/nologin and create the home directory for this user.

Unfortunately the default ownership of the home directory of this user are incompatible with chroot-ing in SFTP (which prevents access to other files on the server). A message like the one below will be generated in this kind of case:
$ sftp -v sftp@localhost
sftp@localhost's password:
debug1: Authentication succeeded (password).
Authenticated to localhost ([::1]:22).
debug1: channel 0: new [client-session]
debug1: Requesting
debug1: Entering interactive session.
Write failed: Broken pipe
Couldn't read packet: Connection reset by peer
Also /var/log/auth.log will contain something like this:
fatal: bad ownership or modes for chroot directory "/media/Store/sftp"

The default permissions are visible using the 'namei -l' command on the sftp home directory:
# namei -l /media/Store/sftp
f: /media/Store/sftp
drwxr-xr-x root root    /
drwxr-xr-x root root    media
drwxr-xr-x root root    Store
drwxr-xr-x sftp nogroup sftp
We change the ownership of the sftp directory and make sure there is a place for files to be uploaded in the SFTP area:
# chown root:root /media/Store/sftp
# mkdir /media/Store/sftp/upload
# chown sftp /media/Store/sftp/upload

We isolate the sftp users from other users on the system and configure a chroot-ed environment for all users accessing the SFTP server:
# addgroup sftpusers
# adduser sftp sftusers
Set a password for the sftp user so password authentication works:
# passwd sftp
Putting all pieces together, we restrict access only to the sftp user, allow it access via password authentication only to SFTP, but not SSH (and disallow tunneling and forwarding or empty passwords).

Here are the changes done in /etc/ssh/sshd_config:
PermitEmptyPasswords no
PasswordAuthentication yes
AllowUsers sftp
Subsystem sftp internal-sftp
Match Group sftpusers
        ChrootDirectory %h
        ForceCommand internal-sftp
        X11Forwarding no
        AllowTcpForwarding no
        PermitTunnel no
Reload the sshd configuration (I'm using systemd):
# systemctl reload ssh.service
Check sftp user can't login via SSH:
$ ssh sftp@localhost
sftp@localhost's password:
This service allows sftp connections only.
Connection to localhost closed.
But SFTP is working and is restricted to the SFTP area:
$ sftp sftp@localhost
sftp@localhost's password:
Connected to localhost.
sftp> ls
sftp> pwd
Remote working directory: /
sftp> put netbsd-nfs.bin
Uploading netbsd-nfs.bin to /netbsd-nfs.bin
remote open("/netbsd-nfs.bin"): Permission denied
sftp> cd upload
sftp> put netbsd-nfs.bin
Uploading netbsd-nfs.bin to /upload/netbsd-nfs.bin
netbsd-nfs.bin                                                              100% 3111KB   3.0MB/s   00:00
Now your system is ready to accept sftp connections, things can be uploaded in the upload directory and whenever the external drive is unmounted, SFTP will NOT work.

Note: Since we added 'AllowUsers sftp', you can test no local user can login via SSH. If you don't want to restrict access only to the sftp user, you can whitelist other users by adding them in the AllowUsers directive, or dropping it entirely so all local users can SSH into the system.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

proftpd rulz !