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From Rich Bowen <>
Subject Re: Security
Date Sun, 22 Sep 2002 19:56:51 GMT
On Sun, 22 Sep 2002, Joshua Slive wrote:

> Rich Bowen wrote:
> > OK, I'm confused. What here would you have to do as root that should not
> > be that way?
> I'm not anything near a security expert, but ...
> Your permissions keep ordinary users entirely out of the Apache
> directories.  This prevents ordinary users from doing, among other things:
> - Running log-analysis programs
> - Reading the error log
> - Running htpasswd/htdigest/ab and other support programs
> - Reading the httpd.conf to check how the server is configured

Yes, that was the goal.

> Now, it could be argued that under some circumstances, an adminstrator
> would not want ordinary users to do those things.  For example, the
> error log could contain sensitive error dumps from cgi scripts.  Or the
> httpd.conf could contain database passwords for php scripts.  But in
> general, a properly configured system should not really need to restrict
> these things.

The idea was to lock things down as tightly as possible, and then use
that as a baseline for relaxing things based on needs that arose. Keep
in mind that the folks in question were security experts, whose entire
job is to be paranoid.

> The philosophy of the existing recommendations is to restrict write
> access tightly, but to allow pretty-much unlimited read access.  I don't
> see this as a bad idea.  Perhaps the docs should note that more
> restrictive read-permissions are possible, but I don't think they need
> to be "recommended".

Granted. The phrasing could be be better than what I have suggested.

> As far as the log directory, you've already discovered that it works in
> general with the recommended no-write-permissions-to-non-root.  I
> believe there may be some things (like the scriptlog) that don't work
> that way.  For these logs, it is necessary to create the file in advance
> and chown it to www.
> Regarding the requirement for mod_mime, I do belive that is some kind of
> a bug.  I recall some discussion of this a long time ago on new-httpd,
> but I can't remember the conclusions.  I'd guess the only way to figure
> it out would be to walk it with a debugger.

I'll paw through the archives and see what I can come up with.

> So, in conclusion, I like the idea of adding a discussion of how to
> remove features (modules) that aren't needed, and perhaps a little bit
> more discussion of file-permissions.  But I don't really see any need to
> change the recommended file-permissions.

If that is the consensus, I'll drop it. I think that the document could
stand to be expanded in a number of areas, and that a broader discussion
of file permissions would be good here. I think that I agree re actually
recommending that everyone change their file permissions, in general.
Perhaps merely discussing them more will get people thinking in areas
that they would not otherwise.

Re modules, I find a huge number of people on IRC that have modules
installed that they don't even know what they do, let alone actually
need them. I had thought before of what would be the minimal module
load, but had never actually attempted to do one. I found it an
interesting and informative experiment. I also discovered the
--enable-module=none flag, which is not documented anywhere that I could

Who can say where the road goes
Where the day flows
Only time
 --Pilgrim (Enya - A Day Without Rain)

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