Recently I answered a forum question at another site that asked "How do I get root's environment with sudo su". I answered "sudo su -", and seconds later someone else opined "Sure, if you want to completely destroy your security".
Well, yeah. Except that he'd already done that by allowing "su" in sudoers, so adding the "-" isn't the problem. It's also pretty obvious that allowing "su" to a sudo user works on the honor system. Any person given that privilege could subvert the intention (logging of usage) easily.
It's a convenience, though. The real admin can grant temporary privilege to
someone like me without actually changing the password. Assuming they trust me not to be up to no good, they have a record of my use of that privilege. It's only
marginally more convenient than handing me the password or temporarily changing the password, but that margin is present, so people do this, and not just for passing consultants: full time admins often have this power but don't have "root".
(Article continues after the break)
Well, we all know that the road to computer hell is paved with convenience. Microsoft has shown us that and plenty of sloppy Unix programmers have kicked in their own fair share. Convenience always lessens security.
The person who carped about security mentioned Slackware, noting that
at least there, sudoers would never have a default configuration that included "su".
Bully for Slackware, I say, but let's not pretend that is the be all and end all of security. Truly secure systems have no all powerful root user at all and people who need such systems understand why such a user is a bad idea. It's why a safe deposit vault needs two keys - one user with unlimited power can obviously subvert a system. Truly secure systems (computer or not) are carefully planned so that audits are always in place and can never be bypassed.
But using such a system in most business environments would be insane. The root user is a point of weakness, but it is also a great convenience.
As is "sudo su -".
If this page was useful to you, please help others find it:
More Articles by Anthony Lawrence
- Find me on Google+
Have you tried Searching this site?
Unix/Linux/Mac OS X support by phone, email or on-site:
This is a Unix/Linux resource website. It contains technical articles about Unix, Linux and general computing related subjects, opinion, news, help files, how-to's, tutorials and more. We appreciate comments and article submissions.
Publishing your articles here
Jump to Comments
Many of the products and books I review are things I purchased for my own use. Some were given to me specifically for the purpose of reviewing them. I resell or can earn commissions from the sale of some of these items. Links within these pages may be affiliate links that pay me for referring you to them. That's mostly insignificant amounts of money; whenever it is not I have made my relationship plain. I also may own stock in companies mentioned here. If you have any question, please do feel free to contact me.
I am a Kerio reseller. Articles here related to Kerio products reflect my honest opinion, but I do have an obvious interest in selling those products also.
Specific links that take you to pages that allow you to purchase the item I reviewed are very likely to pay me a commission. Many of the books I review were given to me by the publishers specifically for the purpose of writing a review. These gifts and referral fees do not affect my opinions; I often give bad reviews anyway.
We use Google third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit our website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here.