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.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Linksys NSLU2 adventures into the NetBSD land passed through JTAG highlands - part 2 - RedBoot reverse engineering and APEX hacking

(continuation of Linksys NSLU2 adventures into the NetBSD land passed through JTAG highlands - part 1; meanwhile, my article was mentioned briefly in BSDNow Episode 89 - Exclusive Disjunction around minute 36:25)

Choosing to call RedBoot from a hacked Apex

As I was saying in my previous post, in order to be able to automate the booting of the NetBSD image via TFTP, I opted for using a 2nd stage bootloader (planning to flash it in the NSLU2 instead of a Linux kernel), and since Debian was already using Apex, I chose Apex, too.

The first problem I found was that the networking support in Apex was relying on an old version of the Intel NPE library which I couldn't find on Intel's site. The new version was incompatible/not building with the old build wrapper in Apex, so I was faced with 3 options:
  1. Fight with the availabel Intel code and try to force it to compile in Apex
  2. Incorporate the NPE driver from NetBSD into a rump kernel to be included in Apex instead of the original Intel code, since the NetBSD driver only needed an easily compilable binary blob
  3. Hack together an Apex version that simulates the typing necessary RedBoot commands to load via TFTP the netbsd image and execute it.
After taking a look at the NPE driver buildsystem, I concluded there were very few options less attractive that option 1, among which was hammering nails through my forehead as a improvement measure against the severe brain damage which I would probably be likely to be inflicted with after dealing with the NPE "build system".

Option 2 looked like the best option I could have, given the situation, but my NetBSD foo was too close to 0 to even dream to endeavor on such a task. In my opinion, this still remains the technically superior solution to the problem since is very portable and a flexible way to ensure networking works in spite of the proprietary NPE code.

But, in practice, the best option I could implement at the time was option 3. I initially planned to pre-fill from Apex my desired commands into the RedBoot buffer that stored the keyboard strokes typed by the user:

load -r -b 0x200000 -h netbsd-nfs.bin
Since this was the first time ever for me I was going to do less than trivial reverse engineering in order to find the addresses and signatures of interesting functions in the RedBoot code, it wasn't bad at all that I had a version of the RedBoot source code.

When stuck with reverse engineering, apply JTAG

The bad thing was that the code Linksys published as the source of the RedBoot running inside the NSLU2 was, in fact, a different code which had some significant changes around the code pieces I was mostly interested in. That in spite of the GPL terms.

But I thought that I could manage. After all, how hard could it be to identify the 2-3 functions I was interested in and 1 buffer? Even if I only had the disassembled code from the slug, it shouldn't be that hard.

I struggled with this for about 2-3 weeks on the few occasions I had during that time, but the excitement of leaning something new kept me going. Until I got stuck somewhere between the misalignment between the published RedBoot code and the disassembled code, the state of the system at the time of dumping the contents from RAM (for purposes of disassemby), the assembly code generated by GCC for some specific C code I didn't have at all, and the particularities of ARM assembly.

What was most likely to unblock me was to actually see the code in action, so I decided attaching a JTAG dongle to the slug and do a session of in-circuit-debugging was in order.

Luckily, the pinout of the JTAG interface was already identified in the NSLU2 Linux project, so I only had to solder some wires to the specified places and a 2x20 header to be able to connect through JTAG to the board.

JTAG connections on Kinder (the NSLU2 targeting NetBSD)

After this was done I tried immediately to see if when using a JTAG debugger I could break the execution of the code on the system. The answer was sadly, no.

The chip was identified, but breaking the execution was not happening. I tried this in OpenOCD and in another proprietary debugger application I had access to, and the result was the same, breaking was not happening.
$ openocd -f interface/ftdi/olimex-arm-usb-ocd.cfg -f board/linksys_nslu2.cfg
Open On-Chip Debugger 0.8.0 (2015-04-14-09:12)
Licensed under GNU GPL v2
For bug reports, read
Info : only one transport option; autoselect 'jtag'
adapter speed: 300 kHz
Info : ixp42x.cpu: hardware has 2 breakpoints and 2 watchpoints
Info : clock speed 300 kHz
Info : JTAG tap: ixp42x.cpu tap/device found: 0x29277013 (mfg: 0x009,
part: 0x9277, ver: 0x2)

$ telnet localhost 4444
Trying ::1...
Connected to localhost.
Escape character is '^]'.
Open On-Chip Debugger
> halt
target was in unknown state when halt was requested
in procedure 'halt'
> poll
background polling: on
TAP: ixp42x.cpu (enabled)
target state: unknown
Looking into the documentation I found a bit of information on the XScale processors[X] which suggested that XScale processors might necessarily need the (otherwise optional) SRST signal on the JTAG interface to be able to single step the chip.

This confused me a lot since I was sure other people had already used JTAG on the NSLU2.

The options I saw at the time were:
  1. my NSLU2 did have a fully working JTAG interface (either due to the missing SRST signal on the interface or maybe due to a JTAG lock on later generation NSLU-s, as was my second slug)
  2. nobody ever single stepped the slug using OpenOCD or other JTAG debugger, they only reflashed, and I was on totally new ground
I even contacted Rod Whitby, the project leader of the NSLU2 project to try to confirm single stepping was done before. Rod told me he never did that and he only reflashed the device.

This confused me even further because, from what I encountered on other platforms, in order to flash some device, the code responsible for programming the flash is loaded in the RAM of the target microcontroller and that code is executed on the target after a RAM buffer with the to be flashed data is preloaded via JTAG, then the operation is repeated for all flash blocks to be reprogrammed.

I was aware it was possible to program a flash chip situated on the board, outside the chip, by only playing with the chip's pads, strictly via JTAG, but I was still hoping single stepping the execution of the code in RedBoot was possible.

Guided by that hope and the possibility the newer versions of the device to be locked, I decided to add a JTAG interface to my older NSLU2, too. But this time I decided I would also add the TRST and SRST signals to the JTAG interface, just in case single stepping would work.

This mod involved even more extensive changes than the ones done on the other NSLU, but I was so frustrated by the fact I was stuck that I didn't mind poking a few holes through the case and the prospect of a connector always sticking out from the other NSLU2, which was doing some small, yet useful work in my home LAN.

It turns out NOBODY single stepped the NSLU2


After biting the bullet and soldering JTAG interface with also the TRST and the SRST signals connected as the pinout page from the NSLU2 Linux wiki suggested, I was disappointed to observe that I was not able to single step the older NSLU2 either, in spite of the presence of the extra signals.

I even tinkered with the reset configurations of OpenOCD, but had not success. After obtaining the same result on the proprietary debugger, digging through a presentation made by Rod back in the hay day of the project and the conversations on the NSLU2 Linux Yahoo mailing list, I finally concluded:
Actually nobody single stepped the NSLU2, no matter the version of the NSLU2 or connections available on the JTAG interface!
So I was back to square 1, I had to either struggle with disassembly, reevaluate my initial options, find another option or even drop entirely the idea. At that point I was already committed to the project, so dropping entirely the idea didn't seem like the reasonable thing to do.

Since I was feeling I was really close to finish on the route I had chosen a while ago, I was not any significantly more knowledgeable in the NetBSD code, and looking at the NPE code made me feel like washing my hands, the only option which seemed reasonable was to go on.

Digging a lot more through the internet, I was finally able to find another version of the RedBoot source which was modified for Intel ixp42x systems. A few checks here and there revealed this newly found code was actually almost identical to the code I had disassembled from the slug I was aiming to run NetBSD on. This was a huge step forward.

Long story short, a couple of days later I had a hacked Apex that could go through the RedBoot data structures, search for available commands in RedBoot and successfully call any of the built-in RedBoot commands!

Testing with loading this modified Apex by hand in RAM via TFTP then jumping into it to see if things woked as expected revealed a few small issues which I corrected right away.

Flashing a modified RedBoot?! But why? Wasn't Apex supposed to avoid exactly that risky operation?

Since the tests when executing from RAM were successful, my custom second stage Apex bootloader for NetBSD net booting was ready to be flashed into the NSLU2.

I added two more targets in the Makefile in the code on the dedicated netbsd branch of my Apex repository to generate the images ready for flashing into the NSLU2 flash (RedBoot needs to find a Sercomm header in flash, otherwise it will crash) and the exact commands to be executed in RedBoot are also print out after generation. This way, if the command is copy-pasted, there is no risk the NSLU2 is bricked by mistake.

After some flashing and reflashing of the apex_nslu2.flash image into the NSLU2 flash, some manual testing, tweaking and modifying the default built in APEX commands, checking that the sequence of commands 'move', 'go 0x01d00000' would jump into Apex, which, in turn, would call RedBoot to transfer the netbsd-nfs.bin image from a TFTP to RAM and then execute it successfully, it was high time to check NetBSD would boot automatically after the NSLU was powered on.

It didn't. Contrary to my previous tests, no call made from Apex to the RedBoot code would return back to Apex, not even the execution of a basic command such as the 'version' command.

It turns out the default commands hardcoded into RedBoot were 'boot; exec 0x01d00000', but I had tested 'boot; go 0x01d0000', which is not the same thing.

While 'go' does a plain jump at the specified address, the 'exec' command also does some preparations so it allows a jump into the Linux kernel and those preparations break some environment the RedBoot commands expect. I don't know which those are and didn't had the mood or motivation to find out.

So the easiest solution was to change the RedBoot's built-in command and turn that 'exec' into a 'go'. But that meant this time I was actually risking to brick the NSLU, unless I
was able to reflash via JTAG the NSLU2.

(to be continued - next, changing RedBoot and bisecting through the NetBSD history)

[X] Linksys NSLU2 has an XScale IXP420 processor which is compatible at ASM level with the ARMv5TEJ instruction set

Friday, 8 May 2015

Linksys NSLU2 adventures into the NetBSD land passed through JTAG highlands - part 1

About 2 months ago I set a goal to run some kind of BSD on the spare Linksys NSLU2 I had. This was driven mostly by curiosity, after listening to a few BSDNow episodes and becoming a regular listener, but it was a really interesting experience (it was also somewhat frustrating, mostly due to lacking documentation or proprietary code).

Looking for documentation on how to install any BSD flavour on the Linksys NSLU2, I have found what appears to be some too-incomplete-to-be-useful-for-a-BSD-newbie information about installing FreeBSD, no information about OpenBSD and some very detailed information about NetBSD on the Linksys NSLU2.

I was very impressed by the NetBSD script which can be used to cross-compile the entire NetBSD system - to do that, it also builds the appropriate toolchain - NetBSD kernel and the base system, even when ran on a Linux host. Having some experience with cross compilation for GNU/Linux embedded systems I can honestly say this is immensely impressive, well done NetBSD!

Gone were a few failed attempts to properly follow the instruction and lots of hours of (re)building, but then I had the kernel and the sets (the NetBSD system is split into several parts which are grouped by functionality, these are the sets), so I was in the position to have to set things up to be able to net boot - kernel loading via TFTP and rootfs on NFS.

But it wouldn't be challenging if the instructions were followed to the letter, so the first thing I wanted to change was that I didn't want to run dhcpd just to pass the DHCP boot configuration to the NSLU2, that seemed like a waste of resources since I already had dnsmasq running.

After some effort and struggling with missing documentation, I managed to use dnsmasq to pass DHCP boot parameters to the slug, but also use it as TFTP server - after some time I documented this for future reference on my blog and expect to refer to it in the future.

Setting up NFS wasn't a problem, but, when trying to boot, I found that I managed to misread at least 3 or 4 times some of the NSLU2 related information on the NetBSD wiki. To be able to debug what was happening I concluded the slug should have a serial console attached to it, which helped a lot.

Still the result was that I wasn't able to boot the trunk version of the NetBSD code on my NSLU2.

Long story short, with the help of some people from the #netbsd IRC channel on Freenode and from the port-arm NetBSD mailing list I found out that I might have a better chance with specific older versions. In practice what really worked was the code from the netbsd_6_1 branch.

Discussions on the port-arm mailing list, some digging into the (recently found) PR (problem reports), and a successful execution of the trunk kernel (at the time, version 7.99.4) together with 6.1.5 userspace lead me to the conclusion the NetBSD userspace for armbe was broken in the trunk branch.

And since I concluded this would be a good occasion to learn a few details about NetBSD, I set out to git bisect through the trunk history to identify when this happened. But that meant being able to easily load kernels and run them from TFTP, which was not how the RedBoot bootloader flashed into the slug behaves by default.

Be default, the RedBoot bootloader flashed into the NSLU2 waits for 2 seconds for a manual interaction (it waits for a ^C) on the serial console or on the telnet RedBoot prompt, then, if no such event happens, it copies the Linux image it has in flash starting with adress 0x50060000 into RAM at address 0x01d00000 (after stripping the Sercomm header) and then executes the copied code from RAM.

Of course, this is not a very handy way to try to boot things from TFTP, so my first idea to overcome this limitation was to use a second stage bootloader which would do the loading via TFTP of the NetBSD kernel, then execute it from RAM. Flashing this second stage bootloader instead of the Linux kernel at 0x50060000 would make sure that no manual intervention except power on would be necessary when a new kernel+userspace pair is ready to be tested.

Another advantage was that I would not risk bricking the NSLU2 since I would not be changing RedBoot, the original bootloader.

I knew Apex was used as the second stage bootloader in Debian, so I started configuring my own version of the APEX bootloader to make it work for the netbsd-nfs.bin image to be loaded via TFTP.

My first disappointment was that Apex was did not support receiving the boot parameters via DHCP, but only via RARP (it was clear it was less tested with BOOTP or DHCP) and TFTP was documented in the code as being problematic. That meant that I would have to hard code the boot configuration or configure RARP, but that wasn't too bad.

Later I found out that I wasted time on that avenue because the network driver in Apex was some Intel code (NPE Access Library) which can't be freely distributed, but could have been downloaded from Intel's site back in 2008-2009. The bad news was that current versions did not work at all with the old patch work that was done in Apex to allow for the driver made for Linux to compile in a world of its own so it could be incorporated in Apex.

I was stuck and the only options I were:
  1. Fight with the available Intel code and make it compile in Apex
  2. Incorporate the NPE driver from NetBSD into a rump kernel which will be included in Apex, since I knew the NetBSD driver only needed a very easily obtainable binary blob, instead of the entire driver as was in Apex before
  3. Hack together an Apex version that simulates the typing of the necessary commands to load the netbsd-nfs.bin image inside RedBoot, or in other words, call from Apex the RedBoot functions necessary to load from TFTP and execute NetBSD.
Option 1 did not look that appealing after looking into the horrible Intel build system and its endless dependencies into a specific Linux kernel version.

Option 2 was more appealing, but since I didn't knew NetBSD and only tried once to build and run a NetBSD rump kernel, it seemed like a doable project only for an experienced NetBSD developer or at least an experienced NetBSD user, which I was not.

So I was left with option 3, which meant I had to do some reverse engineering of the code, because, although RedBoot is GPL, Linksys did not publish the source from which the running RedBoot was built from.

(continues here)