[RFC PATCH 0/4] PAM module for ssh-agent user authentication

Domenico Andreoli cavokz at gmail.com
Wed Jul 22 03:38:42 AEST 2020

On Tue, Jul 21, 2020 at 10:01:04AM -0700, Peter Moody wrote:
> > Having it available as part of openssh would be a useful bridgehead for
> > educating users towards better solutions, when available, and anyway
> > practically improve the security of the status quo.
> I think that something like this might be a better fit in the
> Linux-Pam repository.
> Having done this before, my big worry was always, how does pam trust
> the agent? being able to rw to an unix domain socket doesn't mean that

Trusting the agent is the easy part, if it can sign the challenge.
It's trusting the user who's behind it that is difficult.

> the ssh-agent at the other end is owned by the user calling sudo. It's

Oh! Being sudo setuid, it could happily read whatever SSH_AUTH_SOCK a
malicious user would throw at it. Fantastic.

> an approximation, and sometimes that approximation is (obviously)
> fine. But it seems to me that for the general use-case, this is
> stapling functionality to the agent that the protocol wasn't designed
> to support.

Indeed in the plain ssh scenario, the ssh client runs with the user's

In the PAM module context, the safest assumption is that the module
runs as root. How to ensure that a given SSH_AUTH_SOCK is really owned
by the user seeking authentication is totally different story.

> anyway, my $0.02

Quite useful to me. Thanks!


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