Root exploit for FreeBSD

Kevin Wilcox kevin.wilcox at
Thu Dec 10 20:11:32 UTC 2009

2009/12/10 Anton Shterenlikht <mexas at>:

> I was just stressed after being forced by him
> to explain why I wanted firewall exceptions
> for two ports to my FreeBSD portscluster nodes.
> I explained the reasons and that was settled.

Anton, I don't know about the UK, Great Britain or England, but in US
Universities, this is fairly common. It just serves as a sanity check
for the many, many requests central IT tends to get regarding allowing
ingress traffic for faculty/staff machines, and it gives the firewall
guys documentation that such-and-such machine should be receiving
inbound traffic on specific ports.

> The Uni is, of course,
> addicted to Microsoft, but having realised all
> the problems with that, lately the policy has
> been to deny (!) MS users admin access to their
> own desktops. The situation is just ridiculous -
> if a MS user wants to install a piece of software
> on their PC he/she has to ask for permission,
> and then wait until some computer officer would
> come and do install for them.

Again, I don't know about the UK, Great Britain or England, but in the
US this is also quite common, at least with regards to University
owned hardware. The first responsibility is to protect the network and
existing services. Sadly, many groups fail to provide the next step,
that being a relatively quick, easy way to have approved software
installed for users, and a method for having non-approved software
scrutinised and either approved or rejected.

> Also recently, well.. about a year ago, no
> host (!) could be accessed from outside the
> Uni firewall. Special exception has to be
> obtained even for ssh. There is only one dedicated
> sun server which accepts only ssh. The users
> are supposed to dial to this frontend server
> first, and from there to hosts on the local net.

Again, quite common. Most Universities here do not provide
public-facing IP addresses without some sort of application and
approval process. For example, we have a handful of machines that are
public facing but most of our hardware sits inside site-only networks.
To access those machines you either have to be on-campus or you have
to connect via VPN (and yes, we support Windows, Mac, Linux, Solaris,

Having an SSH proxy isn't an entirely bad idea, though I can see where
performance may be hindered.

> I had to fight a long battle, well.. I had
> some support from other academics, to have
> a linux class in my Faculty. Here the
> opposition wasn't so much security, as
> "why would any undegraduate need linux",
> as if MS solutions are a pinnacle of human thought.

That's a pretty fair question and one that I hope you would have asked
yourself before you made the push for the class.

> And from I understand it's going to get worse.
> Apparently the IT services are drawing up
> plans to completely forbid use of "non-autorized"
> OS. I imagine fbsd will not be authorized.
> So I'm anticipating another battle already.

Does this extend to computers used for academic research, student
owned computers being used on campus, etc?

Perhaps it's because we're conditioned to think this way but a lot of
us at universities in the US see a lot of this as being commonplace
and to *not* do them is generally considered bad security practice.


Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the
citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a
double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows
the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the
blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no
need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry,
infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of
their rights unto the leader and gladly so - Unattributed, post 9/11

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