sudo command can be like walking through a minefield if you’re not careful.
Understanding its capabilities and implications is essential for anyone responsible for administering a Ubuntu server.
Here are eight tips to guide you through using
sudo both effectively and securely.
1. Limit Exposure to Root Access
Instead of logging in as the root user for general tasks, use
sudo to execute specific commands that require superuser privileges.
This minimises the chance of making unintended, system-altering mistakes.
2. Make Use of Audit Trails
sudo logs every command you execute.
These logs act as an audit trail that can be invaluable for troubleshooting, security audits, and breach investigations.
Make it a regular practice to check the
sudo logs, usually located in
/var/log/auth.log. Regular monitoring can help you spot unauthorised or suspicious activity quickly.
3. Leverage Command Whitelisting
sudo, you can specify which commands a user can run as the root user.
This granular control enhances security by limiting what each user can do.
You can set these permissions in the
Take the time to configure the
/etc/sudoers file. Specify which commands individual users are permitted to execute with
sudo, enhancing security through granular control.
4. Time-based Sudo Rights
sudo command elevates your privileges for a limited time, usually 15 minutes.
After that, you’ll need to re-enter your password.
This feature enhances security by limiting the window in which elevated privileges can be abused.
Be mindful of this time window (usually 15 minutes) and log out or lock your terminal if you step away, to minimize security risks.
5. Enter Your Password Wisely
After issuing a
sudo command, you’ll generally need to enter your password.
This is not just a formality but a vital security measure to ensure that the person using
sudo is authorised to do so.
When entering your password after a
sudo command, be aware of your surroundings. Ensure no one can shoulder-surf to steal your password and gain unauthorized access.
6. Keep an Eye on Timeout Settings
While the 15 minute timeout may be convenient – if you walk away from your session, someone else could potentially execute
sudo commands without needing the password.
You can manually reset it by running
This immediately revokes
sudo permissions and requires a password for the next
7. Session Recording and Monitoring
For heightened scrutiny, some
sudo configurations allow you to record the terminal session, capturing both the commands and their output. This feature can be critical for post-incident reviews and should be considered in environments that require rigorous security measures.
If your environment demands rigorous security, consider enabling advanced
sudo configurations that record terminal sessions.
Consult your organisation’s security policies and guidelines before implementing this feature.
8. Use Sudo Sparingly
sudo only when necessary to minimize potential risks.
It might be tempting to prefix every command with
sudo for ease, but remember that each time you do so, you’re opening a window of opportunity for something to go wrong.
Before running any command with
sudo, ask yourself if it truly requires elevated permissions. The more judicious you are with using
sudo, the less you expose your system to potential risks.