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Securing the Sun Enterprise 10000 System Service Processors

Security of high-end systems, such as the Sun Enterprise 10000 servers, is of critical concern to customers deploying such systems in their environments. This article provides a documented and fully supported solution for protecting the weakest links in the security of the Sun Enterprise 10000 server—the system service processors (SSPs).
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This Sun BluePrints OnLine article describes a secure Sun Enterprise 10000 configuration that is fully Sun supported. It provides tips, instructions, and guidance for creating a more secure Sun Enterprise 10000 system.

This article contains the following topics:

  • "Background Information"

  • "Building a Secure Sun Enterprise 10000 System"

  • "Verifying SSP Hardening"

  • "Sample SunScreen Software Configuration File"

  • "Bibliography and Recommended Reading"

The Sun Enterprise 10000 System Service Processor (SSP) controls the hardware components that comprise a Sun Enterprise 10000 server. Because the SSP is a central control point for the entire frame, it represents an excellent attack point for intruders. To improve reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS), secure the SSP against malicious misuse and attack.

The Sun Enterprise 10000 SSP runs the Solaris 8 OE; many of the recommendations made in other Sun BluePrints OnLine articles about hardening the Solaris OE apply to the Sun Enterprise 10000 SSP. This article uses these recommendations and offers SSP-specific recommendations to improve the overall security of the Sun Enterprise 10000 SSP.

This article and other security articles are available electronically from Sun BluePrints OnLine at:


Background Information

This section contains the following topics:

  • "Assumptions and Limitations"

  • "Qualified Software Versions"

  • "Obtaining Support"

  • "Sun Enterprise 10000 System Features and Security"

  • "System Service Processor (SSP)"

  • "Solaris OE Defaults and Modifications"

Assumptions and Limitations

In this article, our recommendations are based on several assumptions and limitations as to what can be done to secure a Sun Enterprise 10000 server using a Sun supported configuration.

Our recommendations assume a platform based on Solaris 8 Operating Environment 10/01, the SUNWCall Solaris OE installation cluster, and System Service Processor (SSP) software versions 3.3, 3.4, and 3.5.

The hardening configuration in this document is also supported with SSP software version 3.5 running Solaris 9 OE.

Solaris Operating Environment (Solaris OE) hardening can be interpreted in many ways. For purposes of developing a hardened SSP configuration, we address hardening all possible Solaris OE options. That is, anything that can be hardened, is hardened. When there are good reasons for leaving services and daemons as they are, we do not harden or modify them.


Be aware that hardening Solaris OE configurations to the level described in this article may not be appropriate for your environment. For some environments, you may want to perform fewer hardening operations than recommended. The configuration remains supported in these cases; however, additional hardening beyond what is recommended in this article is not supported.

Minimizing the Solaris OE or removing Solaris OE packages to minimize security exposure is not a supported option on the Sun Enterprise 10000 SSP. Only Solaris OE hardening tasks described in this article are supported configurations for the SSP.


Standard security rules apply to hardening Sun Enterprise 10000 SSPs: that which is not specifically permitted is denied.

When addressing security of the SSPs, we focus on SSP functionality inherent in or required by SSP servers. We do not address security for non-SSP servers running Solaris 8 OE. For recommendations on generic Solaris OE security configuration, refer to other sources such as the security-related Sun BluePrints OnLine articles.

In this article, we omit additional software that you can install on the SSP, such as Sun Remote Services Event Monitoring, Sun Remote Services Net Connect, and Sun Management Center software.


The SSP code uses gethostbyname() to retrieve the IP address of the domains. To ensure proper function of this routine it is critical that the SSP name resolution be configured properly. Each SSP must have the domains' private network addresses and their corresponding IP addresses listed in the /etc/hosts file. In addition, the SSPs must be using files for name resolution.

We do not use InterDomain Networking (IDN) in the reference architecture. IDN uses the backplane of a Sun Enterprise 10000 system to route network traffic between domains. This routing might introduce security vulnerabilities. Before using IDN in a secured Sun Enterprise 10000 environment, carefully review the security implications.

Qualified Software Versions

The Solaris OE security hardening recommendations in this article are based on Solaris 8 Operating Environment 10/01 (Update 6).

The SSP software versions qualified to run in the secured environment are SSP versions 3.3, 3.4, and 3.5. Note that Solaris 9 OE is qualified with SSP version 3.5 too.


For the SSP software to function properly, SSP version 3.5 must have patch 112248-01 or newer installed. Also, SSP version 3.4 must have patch 111174-02 or newer installed.

The Solaris Security Toolkit (Toolkit) version used is 0.3.5.

Obtaining Support

The Sun Enterprise 10000 SSP configuration implemented by the Solaris Security Toolkit (Toolkit) SSP module (starfire_ssp-secure.driver) is a Sun supported configuration. A hardened SSP is only supported by Enterprise Services if the security modifications are performed using the Toolkit. Support calls to Sun Enterprise Services are handled the same as other service orders.


The Toolkit itself is not a supported Sun product. Only configurations created with the Toolkit are supported.

To obtain Toolkit support, use the Solaris Security Forum link at the following web site:


Sun Enterprise 10000 System Features and Security

The following paragraphs describe features and security issues of the Sun Enterprise 10000 system.

Sun Enterprise 10000 System Features

The Sun Enterprise 10000 server is the largest in the Sun Enterprise server line. With 64 processors, domain capabilities, and other features this server is frequently used in server consolidation projects and multitiered architectures.

One of the most unique features of the Sun Enterprise 10000 system is its management. The resources of the frame—such as processors and I/O resources—can be virtually assigned to any domain within the frame. The management of these resources is controlled by one or two servers external to the frame. These servers are sun4u based servers such as the Sun Enterprise_ 250 server.

Sun Enterprise 10000 System Security Issues

Over IP, the SSPs have management connections to the control boards of the frame, in addition to connections to each domain. The standard configuration for these network connections is to have one network, or IP range, interconnecting the domains, control boards, and SSPs. This configuration poses a significant security risk because this network could be used to access one domain from another domain. This risk may exist even when the action is specifically prohibited by firewalls or other access control technologies on the other networks connected to the domains.

For example, in the default configuration, a malicious user on domain_a might directly access domain_b over the control board/SSP network despite firewalls that separate these domains on the public or production networks.

In addition to this security issue, a malicious user might use the SSPs to access other domains. For example, a malicious user on domain_a could gain access to the SSP, then use the SSP to gain access to domain_b.

To enforce domain separation, the SSP management network connection to the domains and the SSP itself must be secured. Domain separation enforces privacy of information and resources between domains or systems.

SSPs and the management networks on which they depend can pose a serious threat to overall domain security on a Sun Enterprise 10000 system. To mitigate this risk, configure the SSPs and management network to protect themselves and the domains inside the frame against potential misuse.

System Service Processor (SSP)

The Sun Enterprise 10000 SSP 3.4 Users Guide describes the SSP as follows:

The System Service Processor (SSP) is a SPARC_ workstation or SPARC server that enables you to control and monitor the Sun Enterprise 10000 system. You can use a Netra T1, Ultra_ 5, or Sun Enterprise 250 workstation server as an SSP. In this book, the SSP workstation or server is simply called the SSP. The SSP software packages must be installed on the SSP. In addition, the SSP must be able to communicate with the Sun Enterprise 10000 system over an Ethernet connection.

The Sun Enterprise 10000 system is often referred to as the platform. System boards within the platform may be logically grouped together into separately bootable systems called Dynamic System Domains, or simply domains. Up to 16 domains may exist simultaneously on a single platform...The SSP lets you control and monitor domains, as well as the platform itself.

Clearly, the SSP provides many critical functions for a Sun Enterprise 10000 system. The domains do not operate properly if a controlling SSP is absent. Preserving the security of the SSP is very important.

SSP Redundancy

You can use up to two SSPs to manage the Sun Enterprise 10000 system frame. Each SSP is one of the sun4u based servers on which the SSP software is supported, such as the Sun Enterprise 250 server.

The two SSPs should have the same configuration. This duplication should include the Solaris OE installation, security modifications, network configurations, patch installations, and all other system configuration aspects. This statement is less a recommendation for security than it is a reminder that configuration and change management of the SSP is critical to its ongoing maintainability.

SSP Features

Systems running SSP enable system administrators to perform the following tasks, which is a partial list:

  • Create domains by logically grouping system boards together. Domains are able to run their own operating system and handle their own workload.

  • Boot the domains.

  • Dynamically reconfigure a domain so that currently installed system boards can be logically attached to or detached from the operating system while the domain continues running in multiuser mode. This feature is known as Sun Enterprise 10000 system dynamic reconfiguration and is described in the Sun Enterprise 10000 Dynamic Reconfiguration User Guide. (A system board can easily be physically swapped in and out when it is not attached to a domain, even while the system continues running in multiuser mode.)

  • Perform automated dynamic reconfiguration of domains.

  • Assign paths to different controllers for I/O devices, which enables the system to continue running in the event of certain types of failures. This feature is known as Alternate Pathing (AP) and is described in the Sun Enterprise Server Alternate Pathing 2.3 User Guide.

  • Monitor and display temperatures, currents, and voltage levels of one or more system boards or domains.

  • Monitor and control power to components within a platform.

  • Execute diagnostic programs such as power-on self-test (POST).

More information about the capabilities of the SSP software is available in the Sun Enterprise 10000 SSP 3.5 User Guide.

SSP Default Configurations

This section provides an overview of the default configurations of SSP software applicable when you install the required software to secure a Sun Enterprise 10000 system.

SSP Packages

The SSP software bundle is comprised of the following packages, which are specific to the Sun Enterprise 10000 system:

application SUNWsspdf   System Service Processor Data Files
application SUNWsspdo   System Service Processor Domain Utilities
application SUNWsspdr   System Service Processor Dynamic Reconfiguration Utilities
application SUNWsspfp   System Service Processor Flash Prom Image
application SUNWsspid   System Service Processor Inter-Domain Networking
application SUNWsspmn   System Service Processor On-Line Manual Pages
application SUNWsspob   System Service Processor Open Boot Prom Utilities
application SUNWsspop   System Service Processor Core Utilities
application SUNWssppo   System Service Processor POST Utilities
application SUNWsspr    System Service Processor (Root)
application SUNWsspst   System Service Processor Scan Tests
application SUNWsspue   System Service Processor User Environment

SSP Accounts and Security

The SSP automatically adds the following users to the /etc/passwd file:

ssp:x:12:10:SSP User:/export/home/ssp:/bin/csh

Additionally, the following are new SSP /etc/shadow contents:


When the SSP adds the preceding accounts, including the ssp account, they are initially locked with "NP" as the encrypted password.


A system administrator should set the password for the ssp user, on both SSPs, immediately after installing the SSP software or upon first powering up the Sun Enterprise 10000 system.

The SSP does not add any entries to the /etc/group file.

SSP Daemons

The SSP daemons are organized into two separate types, which are each listed below with sample output.

The platform or core daemons that run on both the main and spare SSP are as follows:

ssp 1367   1 0 15:42:59 ?    0:22 fad
ssp 1383   1 0 15:43:00 ?    0:01 machine_server -m
ssp  784   1 0 15:36:12 ?    0:10 fod 

The daemons that run only on the main SSP are as follows:

root 467 1 1 15:33:50 ? 2:31 scotty -f /etc/opt/SUNWssp/ssp_startup.tcl 15
ssp 1496 1 0 15:45:15 ? 0:00 edd
ssp 1446 1 0 15:45:03 ? 0:00 datasyncd
ssp 1452 1 0 15:45:06 ? 0:07 cbs
root 3712 1 0 12:08:36 ? 0:00 snmpd
ssp 1477 1 0 15:45:09 ? 0:00 straps


This listing of daemons is a sample of the services that may be encountered. Depending on how many domains are in use, more daemons are running for each domain.

The SSP daemons are started by /etc/rc2.d/S99ssp, which calls the startup script /etc/opt/SUNWssp/ssp_startup.sh.

The following table provides a brief description of each daemon. For additional information on these daemons, refer to the Sun Enterprise 10000 SSP 3.5 User Guide and the Sun Enterprise 10000 SSP 3.5 Reference Manual.




Provides the SSP communication interface to the Sun Enterprise 10000 system. This server daemon communicates directly with the control board executive (CBE) on the active control board via TCP/IP. (The communication protocol between cbs and CBE is called control board management protocol (CBMP). Other SSP daemons communicate with cbs via RPC.


Synchronizes SSP configuration files between the main and spare SSP. Copies files from the main to the spare SSP through a TCP/IP connection over the private SSP data network. Traffic from datasyncd is routed through the private connection that is not used for control board management. This daemon relies on other SSP daemons, including fod and fad. The datasyncd daemon runs only on the main SSP. Note: this daemon is not present in SSP version 3.3.


Uploads event detection scripts to the control board executive (CBE) through cbs. The event detection scripts run within the event monitoring task of CBE and poll various conditions with the platform such as environmental conditions, signature blocks, and voltages. Changes monitored by the scripts are transmitted as SNMP event traps to edd. These traps are processed by response action scripts invoked through edd when traps are received.


Provides distributed file access services to SSP clients that need to monitor, read, and write changes to SSP configuration files. Only readable files listed in fad_files can be monitored. This daemon relies on other SSP server daemons, including machine_server. Each SSP can run only one instance of fad at a time.


Monitors the health of dual SSPs and control boards. One control board serves as the primary control board, while another control board serves as a backup. Run only one copy of fod on both the main and spare SSP at all times. Note: this daemon is not present in SSP 3.3.


Performs several functions, including: servicing TCP and UDP port registration requests, processing netcon_server and snmpd port lookup requests from SSP client programs, and ensuring that error messages are routed to the proper messages file. Each SSP can run only one instance of machine_server at a time.


Extends Tcl, an interpretive language much like shell or perl. The scotty extensions handle TCP/IP sockets and SNMP. The SSP further extends scotty with SSP-specific commands. Note: the scotty interface is not available to SSP users.


Propagates traps to other SSP daemons such as edd.


Listens to the SNMP trap port for incoming trap messages and forwards received messages to all connected clients. Each SSP can run only one instance of straps at a time.

Solaris OE Defaults and Modifications

The Solaris OE configuration of an SSP has many of the same issues as other default Solaris OE configurations. For example, too many daemons are used and other insecure daemons are enabled by default. Some insecure daemons include: in.telnetd, in.ftpd, fingered, and sadmind. For a complete list of default Solaris OE daemons and security issues associated with them, refer to the Solaris Operating Environment Security: Updated for Solaris 8 OE Sun BluePrints OnLine article.

Based on the Solaris OE installation cluster (SUNWCall) typically used for an SSP, almost 100 Solaris OE configuration modifications are recommended to improve the security configuration of the Solaris OE image running on each SSP.

Implementing these modifications is automated when you use the driver script starfire_ssp-secure.driver available in the Solaris Security Toolkit. This new driver is available in version 0.3.5 of the Toolkit.

Disabling Unused Services

We recommend that you disable all unused services. Reducing services offered by an SSP to the network decreases the access points available to an intruder. The modifications to secure an SSP Solaris OE configuration result in reducing the number of TCP, UDP, and RPC services available from an SSP.

The typical hardening of a Solaris OE system involves commenting out all of the services in /etc/inetd.conf and disabling the inetd daemon from starting. All interactive services normally started from inetd are then replaced by secure shell (ssh). Unfortunately, the SSP does not permit you to comment out the entire contents of the /etc/inetd.conf.


A secured configuration must be considered in the context of the application and services provided. The secured configuration implemented in this article is a high-water mark for system security; every service not required by the SSP is disabled. Using the information in this article, you can determine clearly what can be disabled without adversely affecting the behavior of the SSP in your environment.

Recommendations and Exceptions

Our recommendations for securing the SSP follow closely with the hardening described in the Solaris Operating Environment Security - Updated for Solaris 8 Operating Environment Sun BluePrints OnLine article.

We made the following exceptions to these recommendations, due to functionality that is required by the SSP and due to support constraints:

  • Remote procedure call (RPC) system startup script is not disabled, because RPC is used by the failover daemon (fod).

  • Daemon entries in.rshd, in.rlogind, and in.rexecd in the /etc/inetd.conf file are not disabled, because the failover daemon (fod) requires them.

  • Solaris Basic Security Module (BSM) is not enabled. The BSM subsystem is difficult to optimize for appropriate logging levels and produces log files that are difficult to interpret. This subsystem should only be enabled at sites where you have the expertise and resources to manage the generation and data reconciliation tasks required to use BSM effectively.

  • Solaris OE minimization (removing unnecessary Solaris OE packages from the system) is not supported for the SSP.

Mitigating Security Risks of Solaris OE Services

Detailed descriptions of Solaris OE services and recommendations on how to mitigate their security implications are available in the following BluePrint OnLine articles:

  • Solaris Operating Environment Security - Updated for the Solaris 8 Operating Environment

  • Solaris Operating Environment Network Settings for Security - Updated for Solaris 8

The recommendations are implemented by the Toolkit in either its standalone or JumpStart modes.

Using Toolkit Scripts to Perform Modifications

Each of the modifications performed by the Toolkit starfire_ssp-secure.driver are organized into one of the following categories:

  • Disable
  • Enable
  • Install
  • Remove
  • Set
  • Update

The following paragraphs briefly describe these categories and the modifications the scripts within the driver perform to harden the SSP. For a complete list of the scripts in the starfire_ssp-secure.driver, refer to the Toolkit Drivers directory.

For more detailed information about what each of the scripts do, refer to the Sun BluePrints OnLine article titled The Solaris Security Toolkit - Internals - Updated for Version 0.3.

In addition to these modifications, the Toolkit copies files from the Toolkit distribution to increase the security of the system. These files are system configuration files that change the default behavior of syslogd, system network parameters, and other Solaris OE options.


These scripts disable services on the system. Disabled services include network file system client and server, the automounter, DHCP server, printing services, window manager, and a variety of others. The goal is to disable all services not absolutely required by the system.

A total of 31 disable scripts are in the starfire_ssp-secure.driver. These scripts perform modifications to either disable all or some aspect of the following services and configuration files:










core generation



















These scripts enable security features that are by default disabled on Solaris OE. These modifications include:

  • enable optional logging for syslogd and inetd
  • require any NFS client to use a port below 1024
  • enable process accounting
  • enable improved sequence number generation [RFC 1948]
  • enable optional stack protection and logging

Even though some of these services remain disabled after the modifications, their optional security features are enabled so that if they are used in the future, they are used securely.


The install scripts create new files and install security software. The driver scripts create the following Solaris OE files to enhance the security of the system:

  • new /etc/cron.d/at.allow file to restrict access to at commands
  • updates /etc/ftpusers file to include all system accounts
  • new /var/adm/loginlog file to log unsuccessful login attempts
  • updates /etc/shells file to include all available system shells
  • new /var/adm/sulog file to log su attempts

In addition to creating files, some install scripts install software on the system. For the SSP, the following software can be installed by the scripts:

  • Recommended and Security Patch Cluster software
  • FixModes software
  • OpenSSH software
  • MD5 software

Only one remove script is in the driver; it removes unused Solaris OE system accounts. The removed accounts are no longer used by the Solaris OE and can safely be removed. The removed accounts are the following:

  • smtp
  • nuucp
  • listen
  • nobody4

The set scripts configure security features of the Solaris OE that are not enabled by default. There are thirteen of these scripts in the SSP driver and they can configure the following:

  • root password
  • ftpd banner
  • telnetd banner
  • ftpd UMASK
  • login RETRIES
  • power restrictions
  • use of SUID on removable media
  • system suspend options
  • TMPFS size
  • user password requirements
  • user UMASK

The update scripts update configuration files shipped with the Solaris OE but that do not have all of their security settings properly set. Modifications are made to the following configuration files:

  • at.deny
  • cron.allow
  • cron.deny
  • logchecker
  • inetd.conf

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