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K4YT3X's Hardened sysctl Configuration

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K4YT3X's Hardened sysctl Configuration

This repository hosts my hardened version of sysctl.conf. This configuration file aims to provide better security for Linux systems and improves system performance whenever possible. For example, below are some of the features this configuration file provides.

  • Prevents kernel pointers from being read
  • Disables Ptrace for all programs
  • Disallows core dumping by SUID/GUID programs
  • Disables IPv4/IPv6 routing
  • Enables BBR TCP congestion control
  • Enables SYN cookies to mitigate SYN flooding attacks
  • Enables IP reverse path filtering for source validation
  • ...

Please review the configuration file carefully before applying it. You are responsible for actions done to your system. If you need some guidance understanding what each of the settings is for, sysctl-explorer might come in handy. You may also consult Linux's kernel documentation.

Assumptions

This configuration file is written with a few assumptions about your OS. You can still use this configuration as a template if your OS does not match these assumptions (e.g., set net.ipv4.ip_forward to 1 on a router). Making these assumptions helps us to develop a configuration file with the most number of optimizations enabled for common systems.

  • Security is valued over performance and convenience
  • The OS does not act as a router
  • The OS is running on a 64-bit system
  • The OS is on a network that is relatively stable (e.g., wired vs. LTE)
  • No debugging features are required (e.g., no need for GDB/kdump)
  • ICMP echo messages are not regarded as harmful

Configuration Deployment

Linux kernel configuration files are stored in the directory /etc/sysctl.d. Configurations in all files having a suffix of .conf will read by the procps (a.k.a. systemd-sysctl) service. Additionally, the procps service also loads configurations from the following directories.

  • /run/sysctl.d
  • /usr/local/lib/sysctl.d
  • /usr/lib/sysctl.d
  • /lib/sysctl.d

Files are sorted and read by their file names in lexicographic order. Variables read later will overwrite variables read earlier. For example, configurations in 20-something.conf will be read before 99-sysctl.conf. If a variable exists in both files, values read from 20-something.conf will be overwritten by values read from 99-sysctl.conf.

# in 20-something.conf
net.ipv4.ip_forward = 0

# in 99-sysctl.conf
net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1

# net.ipv4.ip_forward will be 1

Method 1: Deploy Definitively

By default, on most Linux distributions, the /etc/sysctl.d/99-sysctl.conf file is a link to the /etc/sysctl.conf file. Therefore, you may write the variables into the /etc/sysctl.conf. However, since configuration files with a file name that starts with an alphabetical character sort later in the list than 99-sysctl.conf, the changes you make in the /etc/sysctl.conf might not be the final value loaded into the kernel. To make sure that your changes are loaded into the kernel, you would have to make sure that your configuration file's name is lexicographically the last file in /etc/sysctl.d. The filename z-k4yt3x.conf will be used as an example in the code snippet below.

This deployment method is suitable for systems that do not expect to have their sysctl configurations updated from this repository anymore. Otherwise, the configuration file's content has to be updated every time a new update form this repository is installed.

# download the configuration file from GitHub using curl
curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/k4yt3x/sysctl/master/sysctl.conf -o ~/sysctl.conf

# you may also download with wget or other methods if curl is not available
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/k4yt3x/sysctl/master/sysctl.conf -O ~/sysctl.conf

# move the configuration file into the sysctl configuration directory
sudo mv ~/sysctl.conf /etc/sysctl.d/z-k4yt3x.conf

# make sure the file has correct ownership and permissions
sudo chown root:root /etc/sysctl.d/z-k4yt3x.conf
sudo chmod 644 /etc/sysctl.d/z-k4yt3x.conf

Method 2: Deploy as Template

Alternatively, you can use this configuration file as a template. If you name the configuration file something akin to /etc/sysctl.d/98-k4yt3x.conf, you may overwrite values in this configuration file by giving them a new definition the /etc/sysctl.conf file.

The advantage of doing this is that you would not have to change this template file's content every time it is updated in this repository. You can drop the template file in and make any modifications in /etc/sysctl.conf.

This method's disadvantage is that values from this template might be overwritten by values in other configurations unknowingly. For example, a uhd-usrp2.conf exists on my system, and overwrites the value of net.core.rmem_max and net.core.wmem_max set in previous configuration files. Packages managers can install new configurations as you install a new package or update your system. Therefore, you will have to be careful that other files do not overwrite your variables.

# download the configuration file from GitHub using curl
curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/k4yt3x/sysctl/master/sysctl.conf -o ~/sysctl.conf

# you may also download with wget or other methods if curl is not available
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/k4yt3x/sysctl/master/sysctl.conf -O ~/sysctl.conf

# move the configuration file into the sysctl configuration directory
sudo mv ~/sysctl.conf /etc/sysctl.d/98-k4yt3x.conf

# make sure the file has correct ownership and permissions
sudo chown root:root /etc/sysctl.d/98-k4yt3x.conf
sudo chmod 644 /etc/sysctl.d/98-k4yt3x.conf

Method 3: Custom Order (Personal Recommendation)

To ensure that the configuration files are read in an order you prefer, you may also rename the files to your preference. For example, you can install this template to /etc/sysctl.d/y-k4yt3x.conf, then make a symbolic link from /etc/sysctl.d/z-sysctl.conf to /etc/sysctl.conf. This ensures that the two files are more likely to be read the last.

# download the configuration file from GitHub using curl
curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/k4yt3x/sysctl/master/sysctl.conf -o ~/sysctl.conf

# you may also download with wget or other methods if curl is not available
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/k4yt3x/sysctl/master/sysctl.conf -O ~/sysctl.conf

# move the configuration file into the sysctl configuration directory
sudo mv ~/sysctl.conf /etc/sysctl.d/y-k4yt3x.conf

# make sure the file has correct ownership and permissions
sudo chown root:root /etc/sysctl.d/y-k4yt3x.conf
sudo chmod 644 /etc/sysctl.d/y-k4yt3x.conf

# point z-sysctl.conf to /etc/sysctl.conf
sudo ln -s /etc/sysctl.conf /etc/sysctl.d/z-sysctl.conf

Loading and Verifying the Changes

For the changes to be effective, you will have to either reboot your machine or reload the configurations using one of the following commands.

# instruct sysctl to load settings from the configuration file into the live kernel
# this command allows you to see the variables as they are being loaded
sudo sysctl --system

# alternatively, you can restart the systemd-sysctl service on a system that uses systemd
sudo systemctl restart systemd-sysctl

# procps is an alias of systemd-sysctl
# restarting either one of procps and systemd-sysctl would work
sudo systemctl restart procps

Afterwards, you may verify your changes by dumping all kernel variables. Replace your.config in the following command with the name of the variable you would like to check.

sudo sysctl -a | grep "your.config"

For example, the following command prints the value of kernel.kptr_restrict.

$ sudo sysctl -a | grep "kernel.kptr_restrict"
kernel.kptr_restrict = 2

Short URL for Downloading sysctl.conf

For convenience, I have pointed the URL https://k4t.io/sysctl to the sysctl.conf file. You may therefore download the sysctl.conf file with the following command. However, be sure to check the file's integrity after downloading it if you choose to download using this method.

curl -L k4t.io/sysctl -o sysctl.conf
Open Source Agenda is not affiliated with "Sysctl" Project. README Source: k4yt3x/sysctl
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