Exploiting Daemons Running as Privileged Users







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It is important to remember that if a particular background process (daemon) gets compromised, attackers gain access to the machine at the assigned access level at which the daemon is running. Depending on how the system is configured, the damage could be minor or quite severe. This is where the principle of least access—(also known as the principle of least privilege (POLP)—comes into play.

You can still commonly find daemons running as root, either because the systems administrator ran into problems when attempting to configure the daemon using a limited user account or because the daemon runs that way by default and was never hardened. If this is the case, the security of the system is only as good as the security built into the daemon itself, and once the security of the daemon is compromised, so is the entire system.

Any file that is executable by a daemon can be run by attackers and every folder that is writable by the daemon will allow the daemon to upload files within it. If attackers take control of a daemon that is also permitted to run externally communicating daemons, like FTP, they can upload local exploits and run them to gain further access.

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