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Chapter 20

Using the Automated Security Enhancement Tool (Tasks)

This chapter describes how to use the Automated Security Enhancement Tool (ASET) to monitor or restrict access to system files and directories.

This is a list of the step-by-step instructions in this chapter.

Automated Security Enhancement Tool (ASET)

The Solaris 9 release includes the Automated Security Enhancement Tool (ASET). ASET helps you monitor and control system security by automatically performing tasks that you would otherwise do manually.

The ASET security package provides automated administration tools that enable you to control and monitor your system's security. You specify a security level--low, medium, or high--at which ASET will run. At each higher level, ASET's file-control functions increase to reduce file access and tighten your system security.

There are seven tasks involved with ASET, each task performs specific checks and adjustments to system files. The ASET tasks tighten file permissions, check the contents of critical system files for security weaknesses, and monitor crucial areas. ASET can also safeguard a network by applying the basic requirements of a firewall system to a system that serves as a gateway system. (See "Firewall Setup".)

ASET uses master files for configuration. Master files, reports, and other ASET files are in the /usr/aset directory. These files can be changed to suit the particular requirements of your site.

Each task generates a report that notes detected security weaknesses and any changes the task has made to the system files. When run at the highest security level, ASET will attempt to modify all system security weaknesses. If ASET cannot correct a potential security problem, it reports the existence of the problem.

You can initiate an ASET session by using the /usr/aset command interactively. Or, you can set up ASET to run periodically by putting an entry into the crontab file.

ASET tasks are disk-intensive and can interfere with regular activities. To minimize the impact on system performance, schedule ASET to run when system activity level is lowest, for example, once every 24 or 48 hours at midnight.

ASET Security Levels

ASET can be set to operate at one of three security levels: low, medium, or high. At each higher level, ASET's file-control functions increase to reduce file access and heighten system security. These functions range from monitoring system security without limiting users' file access, to increasingly tightening access permissions until the system is fully secured.

The following table outlines these three levels of security.

Security Level



Ensures that attributes of system files are set to standard release values. ASET performs several checks and reports potential security weaknesses. At this level, ASET takes no action and does not affect system services.


Provides adequate security control for most environments. ASET modifies some settings of system files and parameters, restricting system access to reduce the risks from security attacks. ASET reports security weaknesses and any modifications it makes to restrict access. At this level, ASET does not affect system services.


Renders a highly secure system. ASET adjusts many system files and parameter settings to minimum access permissions. Most system applications and commands continue to function normally. However, at this level, security considerations take precedence over other system behavior.

Note - ASET does not change the permissions of a file to make it less secure, unless you downgrade the security level or intentionally revert the system to the settings that existed prior to running ASET.

ASET Tasks

This section discusses what ASET does. You should understand each ASET task (what its objectives are, what operations it performs, and what system components it affects) to interpret and use the reports effectively.

ASET report files contain messages that describe as specifically as possible any problems that were discovered by each ASET task. These messages can help you diagnose and correct these problems. However, successful use of ASET assumes that you possess a general understanding of system administration and system components. If you are a novice administrator, you can refer to other Solaris system administration documentation and related manual pages to prepare yourself for ASET administration.

The taskstat utility identifies the tasks that have been completed and the tasks that are still running. Each completed task produces a report file. For a complete description of the taskstat utility, refer to taskstat(1M).

System Files Permissions Tuning

This task sets the permissions on system files to the security level you designate. This task is run when the system is installed. If you decide later to alter the previously established levels, run this task again. At low security, the permissions are set to values that are appropriate for an open information-sharing environment. At medium security, the permissions are tightened to produce adequate security for most environments. At high security, they are tightened to severely restrict access.

Any modifications that this task makes to system files permissions or parameter settings are reported in the tune.rpt file. For example of the files that ASET consults when it sets permissions, see "Tune Files".

System Files Checks

This task examines system files and compares each file with a description of that file as it is listed in a master file. The master file is created the first time ASET runs this task. The master file contains the system file settings that are enforced by checklist for the specified security level.

A list of directories whose files are to be checked is defined for each security level. You can use the default list, or you can modify it, specifying different directories for each level.

For each file, the following criteria are checked:

  • Owner and group

  • Permission bits

  • Size and checksum

  • Number of links

  • Last modification time

Any discrepancies found are reported in the cklist.rpt file. This file contains the results of comparing system file size, permission, and checksum values to the master file.

User and Group Checks

This task checks the consistency and integrity of user accounts and groups as they are defined in the passwd and group files. This task checks the local, and NIS or NIS+ password files. NIS+ password file problems are reported but not corrected. This task checks for the following violations:

  • Duplicate names or IDs

  • Entries in incorrect format

  • Accounts without a password

  • Invalid login directories

  • The nobody account

  • Null group password

  • A plus sign (+) in the /etc/passwd file on an NIS (or NIS+) server

Discrepancies are reported in the usrgrp.rpt file.

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