.\" rssh.1 - rssh man page
.\" Copyright 2003-2010 Derek D. Martin
.\" No comment!
.TH RSSH 1 "1 Aug 2010" "man pages" "Derek D. Martin"
rssh \- restricted secure shell allowing only scp and/or sftp
.RI [ " options... " ] " " [ " ... " ]
.B rssh \-v
is a restricted shell for providing limited access to a host via \fBssh\fP(1),
allowing a user whose shell is configured to
to use one or more of the command(s) \fBscp\fP(1), \fBsftp\fP(1)
\fBcvs\fP(1), \fBrdist\fP(1), and \fBrsync\fP(1), and
those commands. It is intended primarily to work with OpenSSH (see
http://www.openssh.com), but may work with other implementations.
The system administrator should install the shell on the restricted system.
Then the password file entry of any user for whom it is desirable to provide
restricted access should be edited, such that their shell is \fBrssh\fP. For
If invoked with the
will report its version, and exit. All other arguments to
are those specified by the remote \fBssh\fP(1) client, and aren't of much
concern to the average user. The arguments provided must be what a shell on
the remote end would receive in order to pass control to \fBscp\fP(1),
\fBsftp\fP(1), etc. If
receives arguments which do not conform, it will emit an error message and exit.
If the program the user is trying to run is not allowed, or contains syntax
which will try to execute a shell command (such as a command substitution), it
will also emit an error and exit.
has a configuration file, \fIrssh.conf\fP(5), which allows some of the
to be customized. See that man page for details.
.SH SECURITY NOTES
.I Read this section with exceptional care, or you may put your system at risk!
.SS Using rssh With CVS
If you are using \fBrssh\fP to allow CVS access, it should be noted that it is
not possible to prevent a user who is very familiar with CVS from bypassing
\fBrssh\fP and getting a shell, unless the user does not have write access in
the repository. Obviously, the user must have write access to the repository
in order to update it, which allows them to upload arbitrary programs into the
repository. CVS provides several mechanisms for executing such arbitrary
programs... The only reasonably safe way to use \fBrssh\fP with CVS is to use
the chroot jail facilities to place the CVS repository within a chroot jail.
Please see below and all relevant documentation for details of how to set up
chroot jails. Note that \fIusers will still be able to get shell access
within the jail\fP; the only protection which is provided is that they can not
escape the jail. I have been pursuaded to retain support for CVS because this
protection is better than no protection.
.I You have been warned. Use CVS at your own risk.
.SS Potential root Compromise With Old Versions
Before \fBrssh 2.3.0\fP, if a regular user had shell access to a machine where
was installed, a root compromise was possible due to
allowing a user to arbitrarily \fBchroot\fP(2) to anywhere on the filesystem.
It is possible to mitigate this attack against affected versions of
using strict access controls to files, by making sure that the user can not
write to any file on the same partition as system executables, and that any
partition where they can write files does not allow execution of SUID
programs. As of \fBrssh 2.3.0\fP, this attack has been prevented by
preventing arbitrary chroot(), \fIif your jail is set up securely\fP. In
particular, make sure that regular users can not write to directories inside
the jail which contain the copied binaries. That should be obvious, but it
needs to be said. Though it should not be strictly necessary, to further
protect your system from possible compromise, it is also advisable to follow
the section below, entitled "Safeguards Against Bypassing rssh".
.SS Safeguards Against Bypassing rssh
is designed to interact with several other programs. Even if rssh is
completely bug-free, changes in those other programs could possibly result in
methods to circumvent the protection that
is intended to provide. \fIIt is important for you, the system administrator,
to stay current on the services you make available with rssh, to be sure that
these commands do not provide mechanisms to allow the user to run arbitrary
commands.\fP Also, while the goal of every release is to be bug free, no one
is perfect... There may be undiscovered bugs in
which might allow a user to circumvent it.
You can protect your system from those who would take advantage of such
weaknesses. This is not required for \fBrssh\fP to work properly, but it is a
really good idea. There are six basic steps:
protect all non-administrator accounts with rssh (i.e. no regular user should have shell access to the server)
place your users in a chroot jail
limit the binaries which live in the jail to the absolute minimum required
mount their home filesystem with the noexec/nosuid option (i.e. use
separate partitions in the jail for user home directories and all other files,
create a group for rssh users, and limit executable access to the binaries to
users in that group.
use standard file permissions carefully and appropriately
If possible, make sure that no regular user has any kind of shell access to
the system other than through \fBrssh\fP. Otherwise, users with shell access
could potentially exploit undiscovered bugs in
to gain root access to the server.
gives the system administrator the ability to place the users in a chroot
jail. See details in the man page for
and in the file
which is distributed with the source code. If you want to ensure users can
not run arbitrary programs, use a chroot jail, and be sure not to put any
programs other than what are absolutely necessary to provide the service you
are trying to provide. This prevents them from running standard system
Then, make sure the user's files inside the jail are on a separate filesystem
from your system's executables. If possible in your environment, make sure
you mount this filesystem using the
.IR noexec " and " nosuid
options, if your operating system provides them. This prevents the users from
being able to execute programs which they have uploaded to the target machine
(e.g. using scp) which might otherwise be executable, and prevents SUID
programs from respecting the SUID bits. Note that these options necessitate
the users' files are on separate partitions from the binaries and libraries
that live in the jail. Therefore you will need at least 2 partitions for your
jail to do this properly (one for the system binaries in the jail, the other
for the user directories).
Additionally, create a group, for example "rsshuser", for rssh users. Put all
your users who will be restricted by rssh in that group. Set the ownership
and permissions on rssh and rssh_chroot_helper so that only those users can
execute them. The following commands should illustrate:
.B # groupadd rsshuser
.B # chown root:rsshuser rssh rssh_chroot_helper
.B # chmod 550 rssh
.B # chmod 4550 rssh_chroot_helper
Lastly, use standard Unix/POSIX file permissions to ensure they
can not access files they should not be able to within the chroot jail.
.SS Command Line Parser
version 2.2.3, the program must parse out the complete command line to avoid
command line options which cause the execution of arbitrary programs (and
hence bypass the security of \fBrssh\fP). In order to keep the program source
code sane, the parser is a little over-zealous about matching command line
options. In practice, this probably will not be an issue, but in theory it is
If you run into a problem where
refuses to run, claiming to be rejecting insecure command line options which
were not specified, try changing your command line such that all \fIshort\fP
options are specified as single-letter option flags (e.g. \-e \-p instead of
\-ep) and make sure you separate arguments from their respective options by a
space (e.g. \-p 123 instead of \-p123). In virtually all cases, this should
solve the problem. Admittedly, an exhaustive search was not performed, but no
problematical cases were found which were likely to be common.
The alternative would have been to include a complete command-line parser for
rcp, rdist, and rsync; this was way out of the scope of this project. In
practice, the existing parser should suffice. If, however, you find cases
where it does not, please post details to the rssh mailing list. Details
about how to post to the mailing list can be found at the rssh homepage.
.SS "OpenSSH Versions and Bypassing rssh"
Prior to OpenSSH 3.5, \fBsshd\fP(8) will generally attempt to parse files in
the user's home directory, and may also try to run a start-up script from the
does not make use of the user's environment in any way. The relevant command
is executed by calling \fBexecv\fP(3) with the full path to the command, as
specified at compile time. It does not depend upon the user's PATH variable,
or on any other environment variable.
There are, however, several problems that can arise. This is due entirely to
the way the OpenSSH Project's sshd works, and is in no way the fault of
\fBrssh\fP. For example, one problem which might exist is that, according to
the \fBsshd\fP(8) man page from at least some releases of OpenSSH, the
commands listed in the
file are executed with
instead of the user's defined shell. This appears not to be the case on the
systems the author had available to test on; commands were executed using the
user's configured shell (\fBrssh\fP), which did not allow the execution.
However if it is true on your system, then a malicious user may be able to
by uploading a file to
which will be executed by
on that system. If any releases (of OpenSSH) are, in fact, vulnerable to this
problem, then it is very likely that they are only old, outdated versions. So
long as you are running a recent version of OpenSSH, this should not be a
problem as far as I can tell.
If your sshd
vulnerable to this attack, there is a workaround for this problem, though it
is pretty restrictive.
.I "The user's home directory absolutely must not be writable by the user."
If it is, the user can use sftp to remove the directory or rename it, and then
create a new one, and fill it up with whatever environment files they like. For
providing file uploads, this means a user-writable directory must be created for
them, and they must be made aware of their inability to write into their home
directory other than in this location.
A second problem is that after authenticating the user, sshd also reads
to allow the user to set variables in their environment. This allows the user
to completely circumvent
by clever manipulation of such environment variables as
.IR LD_LIBRARY_PATH " or " LD_PRELOAD
to link the rssh binary against arbitrary shared libraries. In order to
prevent this from being a problem, as of version 0.9.3, by default
is now compiled statically. The restrictive work-around mentioned above will
also defeat this sort of attack.
As of OpenSSH 3.5,
now supports the option
which is set to "no" by default. This option allows restricted shells like
to function properly without requiring them to be linked statically. As of
version 1.0.1, the configure script should detect that OpenSSH 3.5 is present,
and disable the default of static compilation.
.SS A Note About Getting Help
If you are having trouble getting
working, or you think you've found a bug, please use the mailing list, and
.I do not e-mail me
You must sign up for the list in order to post. Information about how to sign
up is available on the rssh homepage. If you mail me directly with questions,
I will almost certainly ignore you, or at the very least ask you to repost
your question on the mailing list. Please also feel free to provide feedback
about rssh on the mailing list, whether positive or negative (especially
.SS Security Problems
The only exception to the above is if you believe you have found a security
problem with \fBrssh\fP. If that is the case, then please \fIdo\fP contact me
privately. If you are unable to find my direct contact info, post a message on
the mailing list requesting that I contact you about a potential security
problem. Security problems should be dealt with privately, so that the threat
can be properly assessed, and so as not to needlessly endanger the
installations of \fBrssh\fP in production environments. I take security
problems seriously, and will work to resolve them as quickly as possible.
Before you e-mail me (or the mailing list) with questions, be sure to
read all of the following files: README, INSTALL, CHROOT, SECURITY. All of
these files are distributed with the rssh source code, as well as all binary
packages of \fBrssh\fP. If you downloaded a binary package, these files
should be located wherever your distribution keeps its documentation files
(usually /usr/share/doc/rssh-version/ or something similar). Also
read the man pages for \fBrssh\fP(1), and \fBrssh.conf\fP(5). Finally, if you
are still having problems, read the FAQ at
http://www.pizzashack.org/rssh/faq.shtml. If it is clear to me that you have
not read these documents, I will ignore you. In most cases, these documents
will already have everything you need to get rssh working, and I won't be able
to explain it any better on a mailing list than I did in those documents...
.SH SEE ALSO
\fBrssh.conf\fP(5), \fBsshd\fP(8), \fBssh\fP(1), \fBscp\fP(1), \fBsftp\fP(1).