This manual page describes a simple access control language that is based on client (host name/address, user name), and server (process name, host name/address) patterns. Examples are given at the end. The impatient reader is encouraged to skip to the EXAMPLES section for a quick introduction.
The extended version of the access control language is described in the hosts_options(5) document. Note that this language supersedes the meaning of shell_command as documented below.
The access control software consults two files. The search stops at the first match:
Access will be granted when a (daemon,client) pair matches an entry in the /etc/hosts.allow file.
Otherwise, access will be denied when a (daemon,client) pair matches an entry in the /etc/hosts.deny file.
Otherwise, access will be granted.
Each access control file consists of zero or more lines of text. These lines are processed in order of appearance. The search terminates when a match is found.
A newline character is ignored when it is preceded by a backslash character. This permits you to break up long lines so that they are easier to edit.
Blank lines or lines that begin with a `#' character are ignored. This permits you to insert comments and whitespace so that the tables are easier to read.
All other lines should satisfy the following format, things between [? being optional:
daemon_list : client_list shell_command?
daemon_list is a list of one or more daemon process names (argv[0? values) or wildcards (see below).
client_list is a list of one or more host names, host addresses, patterns or wildcards (see below) that will be matched against the client host name or address.
The more complex forms daemon@host and user@host are explained in the sections on server endpoint patterns and on client username lookups, respectively.
List elements should be separated by blanks and/or commas.
The access control language implements the following patterns:
A string that begins with a `.' character. A host name is matched if the last components of its name match the specified pattern. For example, the pattern `.tue.nl' matches the host name `wzv.win.tue.nl'.
A string that ends with a `.' character. A host address is matched if its first numeric fields match the given string. For example, the pattern `131.155.' matches the address of (almost) every host on the Eindhoven University network (131.155.x.x).
A string that begins with an `@' character is treated as an NIS (formerly YP) netgroup name. A host name is matched if it is a host member of the specified netgroup. Netgroup matches are not supported for daemon process names or for client user names.
An expression of the form `n.n.n.n/m.m.m.m' is interpreted as a `net/mask' pair. A host address is matched if `net' is equal to the bitwise AND of the address and the `mask'. For example, the net/mask pattern `22.214.171.124/255.255.254.0' matches every address in the range `126.96.36.199' through `188.8.131.52'.
The access control language supports explicit wildcards:
The universal wildcard, always matches.
Matches any host whose name does not contain a dot character.
Matches any user whose name is unknown, and matches any host whose name or address are unknown. This pattern should be used with care: host names may be unavailable due to temporary name server problems. A network address will be unavailable when the software cannot figure out what type of network it is talking to.
Matches any user whose name is known, and matches any host whose name and address are known. This pattern should be used with care: host names may be unavailable due to temporary name server problems. A network address will be unavailable when the software cannot figure out what type of network it is talking to.
If the first-matched access control rule contains a shell command, that command is subjected to % /bin/sh child process with standard input, output and error connected to /dev/null. Specify an `
Shell commands should not rely on the PATH setting of the inetd. Instead, they should use absolute path names, or they should begin with an explicit PATH=whatever statement.
The following expansions are available within shell commands:
The client (server) host address.
Client information: user@host, user@address, a host name, or just an address, depending on how much information is available.
The daemon process name (argv[0? value).
The client (server) host name or address, if the host name is unavailable.
The client (server) host name (or
The daemon process id.
Server information: daemon@host, daemon@address, or just a daemon name, depending on how much information is available.
The client user name (or
Expands to a single `%' character.
In order to distinguish clients by the network address that they connect to, use patterns of the form:
process_name@host_pattern : client_list ...
Patterns like these can be used when the machine has different internet addresses with different internet hostnames. Service providers can use this facility to offer FTP, GOPHER or WWW archives with internet names that may even belong to different organizations. See also the `twist' option in the hosts_options(5) document. Some systems (Solaris, FreeBSD) can have more than one internet address on one physical interface; with other systems you may have to resort to SLIP or PPP pseudo interfaces that live in a dedicated network address space.
When the client host supports the RFC 931 protocol or one of its descendants (TAP, IDENT, RFC 1413) the wrapper programs can retrieve additional information about the owner of a connection. Client username information, when available, is logged together with the client host name, and can be used to match patterns like:
daemon_list : ... user_pattern@host_pattern ...
The daemon wrappers can be configured at compile time to perform rule-driven username lookups (default) or to always interrogate the client host. In the case of rule-driven username lookups, the above rule would cause username lookup only when both the daemon_list and the host_pattern match.
A user pattern has the same syntax as a daemon process pattern, so the same wildcards apply (netgroup membership is not supported). One should not get carried away with username lookups, though.
The client username information cannot be trusted when it is needed most, i.e. when the client system has been compromised. In general, ALL and (UN)KNOWN are the only user name patterns that make sense.
Username lookups are possible only with TCP-based services, and only when the client host runs a suitable daemon; in all other cases the result is
A well-known UNIX kernel bug may cause loss of service when username lookups are blocked by a firewall. The wrapper README document describes a procedure to find out if your kernel has this bug.
Username lookups may cause noticeable delays for non-UNIX users. The default timeout for username lookups is 10 seconds: too short to cope with slow networks, but long enough to irritate PC users.
Selective username lookups can alleviate the last problem. For example, a rule like:
daemon_list : @pcnetgroup ALL@ALL
A flaw in the sequence number generator of many TCP/IP implementations allows intruders to easily impersonate trusted hosts and to break in via, for example, the remote shell service. The IDENT (RFC931 etc.) service can be used to detect such and other host address spoofing attacks.
Before accepting a client request, the wrappers can use the IDENT service to find out that the client did not send the request at all. When the client host provides IDENT service, a negative IDENT lookup result (the client matches `UNKNOWN@host') is strong evidence of a host spoofing attack.
A positive IDENT lookup result (the client matches `KNOWN@host') is less trustworthy. It is possible for an intruder to spoof both the client connection and the IDENT lookup, although doing so is much harder than spoofing just a client connection. It may also be that the client's IDENT server is lying.
The language is flexible enough that different types of access control policy can be expressed with a minimum of fuss. Although the language uses two access control tables, the most common policies can be implemented with one of the tables being trivial or even empty.
When reading the examples below it is important to realize that the allow table is scanned before the deny table, that the search terminates when a match is found, and that access is granted when no match is found at all.
In this case, access is denied by default. Only explicitly authorized hosts are permitted access.
The default policy (no access) is implemented with a trivial deny file:
This denies all service to all hosts, unless they are permitted access by entries in the allow file.
The explicitly authorized hosts are listed in the allow file. For example:
ALL: LOCAL @some_netgroup ALL: .foobar.edu EXCEPT terminalserver.foobar.edu
Here, access is granted by default; only explicitly specified hosts are refused service.
The default policy (access granted) makes the allow file redundant so that it can be omitted. The explicitly non-authorized hosts are listed in the deny file. For example:
ALL: some.host.name, .some.domain ALL EXCEPT in.fingerd: other.host.name, .other.domain
The next example permits tftp requests from hosts in the local domain (notice the leading dot). Requests from any other hosts are denied. Instead of the requested file, a finger probe is sent to the offending host. The result is mailed to the superuser.
in.tftpd: LOCAL, .my.domain /etc/hosts.deny: in.tftpd: ALL: (/usr/sbin/safe_finger -l @%h | \ /usr/bin/mail -s %d-%h root)
The safe_finger command comes with the tcpd wrapper and should be installed in a suitable place. It limits possible damage from data sent by the remote finger server. It gives better protection than the standard finger command.
The expansion of the %h (client host) and %d (service name) sequences is described in the section on shell commands.
Warning: do not booby-trap your finger daemon, unless you are prepared for infinite finger loops.
If a name server lookup times out, the host name will not be available to the access control software, even though the host is registered.