Friday Feb 22, 2013

Security Experts Spill the Beans on Oracle Solaris 11.1

There have been several recent blog posts about new security / crypto features in Oracle Solaris 11.1:

Glenn Faden has written on a few topics:

Dan Anderson writes about SPARC T4 Digest and Crypto Optimizations.

Darren Moffat shows how to run up a quick Python script to generate a crypt_sha256 hash from the command line.

Monday Feb 11, 2013

Oracle Solaris 11.1: Compliance Reporting with SCAP

Not "scap"; SCAPDarren Moffat writes about the new security compliance framework added in Oracle Solaris 11.1, the emerging Security Content Automation Protocol.

"One of the important parts is the OVAL (Open Vulnerability Assessment Language) standard [which] allows us to write a checkable security policy and verify it against running systems."

[Read More]

Wednesday Jun 23, 2010

Rights Profiles

A Rights Profile gives a user or role the privileges to perform one or more specified tasks. As the Primary Administrator of your system, you might not give rights profiles much thought because you basically have the authority to do everything. However, if you're creating accounts for other users on the system, it's unlikely that you want to also give them Primary Administrator powers.[Read More]

Tuesday Jun 22, 2010


Someone recently asked on the opensolaris-help forum if it was possible to log ssh events into his OpenSolaris box. I provided a brief answer on how to use the OpenSolaris audit feature to track this information, but I thought a more thorough introduction to auditing may be warranted.[Read More]

Thursday May 27, 2010

Zones, X and Roles

My last two blog entries were actually written to set up this entry. What if I'm logged into the zone, assumed a role and need to run a GUI? An example use case here would be assuming the role of oracle and wanting to run something like the Oracle Database Configuration Assistant (DBCA). For the purposes of this entry, however, I'll stick to the simple Python GUI I used in my previous entry.[Read More]

Tuesday May 25, 2010


Of all the components of Solaris' Role Based Access Control (RBAC), roles are the easiest the implement. When I explain the concept of roles to people, they immediately get it.

OpenSolaris comes with a couple of roles pre-configured, most notably root. This has led to some frustration for newcomers to OpenSolaris as they don't understand why they can't log into their system as root.

But, as there is most likely no person in your organization named 'root', why do you wnat a user account on your system for a person that doesn't exist? Who is this root user and who's accountable for what they do on the system? Over time the password for the root user account always seems to proliferate. The principle of least privilege, another RBAC concept that I'm not addressing here, is meant to limit the need to hand out root access, but even in the absence of that, wouldn't it be nice to know who's doing what as root on your system?

[Read More]

Tuesday May 11, 2010

Locking Down Apache

I noticed my Apache web server had one process that ran as root, which then forked other processes as user webservd.  The reason for this is that apache wants access to port 80, which traditionally requires root privileges. To improve upon this all-or-nothing security model, Solaris 10 introduced the concept of fine-grained privileges, and in OpenSolaris there are now 75 of them.

What this means is that I can now give a process, which has traditionally run with root privileges, just the privileges it needs to get its job done - a concept known as least privilege. The trick, of course, is figuring out which privileges a process needs.

[Read More]

Wednesday Dec 23, 2009

Critical Security Update for Adobe Flash Player

Earlier this month, Adobe released a security update for its Flash Player. Adobe has assigned this update its highest risk rating of Critical. This update is available for OpenSolaris.[Read More]

Tuesday Jun 16, 2009

Security Screencasts

Today I came across 3 short screencasts by Christoph Schuba on various security related features in OpenSolaris:

Christoph's a senior engineer on the Solaris security team and a frequent presenter on the topic of OpenSolaris security at conferences. Each screencast is under 5 minutes. Enjoy.

Friday Dec 05, 2008

Understading RBAC

Role Based Access Control or RBAC is a powerful feature of OpenSolaris. However, all of the moving pieces involved can make it somewhat hard to comprehend. In this blog entry I attempt to distill what I've come to understand.

[Read More]

The Observatory is a blog for users of Oracle Solaris. Tune in here for tips, tricks and more as we explore the Solaris operating system from Oracle.


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