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Securing the Sun Fire 12K and 15K System Controllers, Updated for SMS 1.2

This article provides recommendations on how to securely deploy the Sun Fire 12K and 15K system controllers (SC). This article is one in a series that provides recommendations for enhancing security of a Sun Fire system. After securing the SC, we recommend that you use the previous Sun BluePrints OnLine article, "Securing the Sun Fire 12K and 15K Domains," to secure SC domains.
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This article recommends how to securely deploy system controllers (SCs) on Sun Fire™ 12K and 15K systems. These recommendations apply to environments where security is a concern, particularly environments where the uptime requirements of the SC and/or the information on the Sun Fire server is critical to the organization.

The SC controls the hardware components that comprise a Sun Fire 12K or 15K server. Because it is a central control point for the entire frame, it represents an attack point for intruders. To improve reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS), the SC must be secured against malicious misuse and attack.

This article is one in a series that provides recommendations for enhancing the security of a Sun Fire system. After securing the SC, we recommend that you use the "Securing the Sun Fire 12 K and 15K Domain" article to secure the SC domains.

This article contains the following topics:

  • "Background Information"
  • "Security Recommendations"
  • "Securing the System Controller"
  • "Verifying SC Hardening"
  • "About the Authors"
  • "Related Resources"

Background Information

The following sections provide helpful information for understanding the SC, hardware and software requirements, and other topics. This section contains the following topics:

  • "Assumptions and Limitations"
  • "Obtaining Support"
  • "Understanding the System Controller"
  • "Default SMS Configuration"
  • "SC Network Interfaces"
  • "Security Options in SMS 1.2"

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 Fire SC, resulting in a supported configuration.

Our recommendations assume a platform based on Solaris 8™ Operating Environment (2/02) or Solaris 9 Operating Environment running System Management Services software version 1.2 on the SC. All of the Solaris Operating Environment (Solaris OE) components described in this article are included in these releases.


The recommendations in this article are compatible with System Management Services (SMS) 1.1 on Solaris 8 (10/01), except where noted. The Solaris™ Security Toolkit software distinguishes which modifications are needed based on the version of SMS installed on your system.

Solaris Operating Environment (Solaris OE) hardening can be interpreted in many ways. For purposes of developing a hardened SC 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 here. The configuration remains supported in these cases; however, additional hardening beyond what is recommended in this article is not supported.

You can customize a copy of the Sun Fire 12K and 15K SC module of the Solaris Security Toolkit to disable certain hardening scripts. It is strongly recommended that any modifications to the default modules be made in copies of those files to simplify upgrades to newer Solaris Security Toolkit versions.

Solaris OE minimization (removing Solaris OE packages to minimize security exposures) is not a generally supported option on the SCs. However, it is possible to create a supported exception to this rule. If you are interested in minimizing the SC, contact your Sun account team for assistance.


Standard security rules apply to the hardening of SCs: That which is not specifically permitted is denied.

In this article, we omit additional software that you can install on the SCs, such as SunSM Remote Services Event Monitoring, SunSM Remote Services Net Connect, and Sun™ Management Center software. We recommend that you carefully consider the security implications implicit with the installation of these types of software.

Obtaining Support

The SC configuration for Sun Fire systems implemented by the Solaris Security Toolkit module (sunfire_15k_sc-secure.driver) is a Sun supported configuration. A hardened SC is supported only if the security modifications are performed using the Solaris Security Toolkit. Support calls to Sun's support services are handled the same as other cases.


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

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


Understanding the System Controller

Securing the system controller (SC) is the first priority in configuring Sun Fire systems to be resistant to unauthorized access and to function properly in hostile environments. Before securing the SC, it's important to understand the services and daemons that are running on the system. This section describes the software, services, and daemons specific to the SC. The functionality is described at a high-level with references to Sun documentation for more detailed information. This section provides administrators with a baseline of functionality required for the SC to perform properly.

The SC is a multi-function system board within the Sun Fire frame. This system is dedicated to running the SMS software. The SMS software is used to configure dynamic domains, provide console access to each domain, control whether a domain is powered on or off, and provide other functions critical to operating and monitoring Sun Fire systems.

The following list is an overview of the many services the SC provides for the Sun Fire systems:

  • Manages the overall system configuration.

  • Acts as a boot initiator for its domains.

  • Serves as the syslog host for its domains; note that an SC can still be a syslog client of a LAN-wide syslog host.

  • Provides a synchronized hardware clock source.

  • Sets up and configures dynamic domains.

  • Monitors system environmental information, such as power supply, fan, and temperature status.

  • Hosts field-replaceable unit (FRU) logging data.

  • Provides redundancy and automated SC failover in dual SC configurations.

  • Provides a default name service for the domains based on virtual hostids, and MAC addresses for the domains.

  • Provides administrative roles for frame management.

Redundant SCs

You can have up to two SCs within Sun Fire frames. Our security recommendations are the same for both SCs. The SC that controls the platform is referred to as the main SC, while the other SC acts as a backup and is called the spare SC. The software running on the SC monitors the SCs to determine when an automatic failover should be performed.


For our sample configuration, the main SC is sc0 and the spare SC is sc1. If no hardware failures are present and the SCs are booted at the same time, sc0 always becomes the main SC.

We recommend that the two SCs have the same configuration. This duplication includes the Solaris OE, security modifications, patch installations, and all other system configurations.

The failover functionality between the SCs is controlled by the daemons running on the main and spare SCs. These daemons communicate across private communication paths built into the Sun Fire frames. Other than the communication of these daemons, there is no special trust relationship between the two SCs.

SMS Software

A significant aspect of SC security is access to applications that an administrator uses to manage Sun Fire systems. Some security issues associated with the SMS software are described in the System Management Services (SMS) 1.2 Administrative Guide. This article builds on the recommendations made in that guide.

Access to the SMS software is the core of the SC. Correspondingly, access to this software must be carefully controlled. Only authorized users should have access. The SMS software provides a mechanism, over and above the Solaris OE access controls, to limit access to the SMS software. These features are described in "Default SMS Configuration" on page 6.

Default SMS Configuration

This section describes the default SMS configuration installed on Sun Fire SCs.


A Sun Fire SC is based on Solaris 8 OE (10/01) for SMS 1.1, Solaris 8 OE (2/02) for SMS 1.2, or Solaris 9 OE for SMS 1.2, using the SUNWCall Solaris OE installation cluster.

The SMS software resides on the SC and oversees all SC operations. The entire SMS software bundle is comprised of the following packages, which are specific to the Sun Fire 12K and 15K SCs:

application SUNWSMSdf System Management Services Data Files
application SUNWSMSjh System Management Services On-Line Javahelp
application SUNWSMSlp System Management Services LPOST object files
application SUNWSMSmn System Management Services On-Line Manual Pages
application SUNWSMSob System Management Services OpenBoot PROM
application SUNWSMSod System Controller Open Boot Prom
application SUNWSMSop System Management Services Core Utilities
application SUNWSMSpd System Controller Power On Self Test
application SUNWSMSpo System Management Services POST Utilities
application SUNWSMSpp System Management Services picld(1M) Plug-in Module
application SUNWSMSr System Management Services, (Root)
application SUNWSMSsu System Management Services User Environment
application SUNWufu  User Flash PROM Device Driver Header File
application SUNWufrx User Flash PROM Device Driver (Root) (64-bit)
application SUNWscdvr Sun Fire 15000 System Controller drivers

Accounts and Security

The following users are added to the /etc/passwd file by the SMS software:

# grep sms /etc/passwd
sms-codd:x:10:2:SMS Capacity On Demand Daemon::
sms-dca:x:11:2:SMS Domain Configuration Agent::
sms-dsmd:x:12:2:SMS Domain Status Monitoring Daemon::
sms-dxs:x:13:2:SMS Domain Server::
sms-efe:x:14:2:SMS Event Front-End Daemon::
sms-esmd:x:15:2:SMS Environ. Status Monitoring Daemon::
sms-fomd:x:16:2:SMS Failover Management Daemon::
sms-frad:x:17:2:SMS FRU Access Daemon::
sms-osd:x:18:2:SMS OBP Service Daemon::
sms-pcd:x:19:2:SMS Platform Config. Database Daemon::
sms-tmd:x:20:2:SMS Task Management Daemon::
sms-svc:x:6:10:SMS Service User:/export/home/sms-svc:/bin/csh

Of these accounts, sms-svc is the only default account that administers the system. All the other accounts provide privileges for the daemons they are associated with. Never use these accounts to log into the system. You can secure them the same way as unused system accounts. These accounts are for the daemons running the SC as described in "Daemons" on page 9.

The following are newly added SMS /etc/shadow contents:

# grep sms /etc/shadow 

All of these accounts, including the sms-svc account, are initially locked with "NP" as the encrypted password entry.


Set the password for the sms-svc user on both SCs immediately after installing the SMS software or first powering on the system.

The following entries are added to the /etc/group file by the SMS software:

# grep sms /etc/group
platsvc ::17:sms-svc

Groups provide the groundwork for delegation of domain and chassis administrative capabilities. They allow for separation of the administrative privileges and operator privileges for each domain and the entire frame. The System Management Services (SMS) 1.2 Administrator Guide contains detailed descriptions of which commands require a group's privileges for executing.


The SMS daemons are divided into the following three types, with sample ps output.

First are the platform or core SMS daemons run on both the main and spare SC:

root   8108  1 0 17:53:04 ?    0:01 mld
root   8123  1 0 17:53:05 ?    31:35 hwad
root   8126  1 0 17:53:05 ?    0:00 mand
sms-frad 331  1 0 12:41:21 ?    0:00 frad
root   8132  1 0 17:53:06 ?    0:03 fomd
root   4830  1 0 09:35:56 ?    0:00 ssd -i 
SMS software start-up initiated -iSC POST results: 'Power On Selftest n

Next are the SMS daemons that run only on the main SC:

sms-pcd  393   1 0 12:41:43 ?    0:03 pcd
sms-tmd  402   1 0 12:41:43 ?    0:00 tmd -t 12
sms-dsmd 405   1 0 12:41:44 ?    0:00 dsmd
sms-esmd 414   1 0 12:41:45 ?    0:05 esmd
sms-osd  419   1 0 12:41:46 ?    0:00 osd
root   8218  1 0 17:53:33 ?    0:00 kmd
sms-efe  475   1 0 12:41:47 ?    0:00 efe
sms-codd 483   1 0 12:41:48 ?    0:00 codd

Third are the SMS daemons that communicate to the domains, which run only on the main SC:

sms-dxs 4428  291 0 13:14:31 ?    0:00 dxs -d A
sms-dca 4429  291 0 13:14:31 ?    0:00 dca -d A


The previous list of domain services is a sample of the services that may be encountered. Depending on how many domains are in use, more SMS daemons may be running.

These SMS daemons are started by /etc/rc2.d/S99sms.

The following paragraphs briefly describe the SMS daemons. For additional information on each of these daemons, refer to the System Management Services (SMS) 1.2 Administrator Guide and System Management Services (SMS) 1.2 Reference Guide.


This daemon (domain configuration administration) supports remote dynamic reconfiguration (DR) by facilitating communication between applications and the dca daemon running on the domain. A separate instantiation of the dca daemon is run on the main SC for each domain running Solaris OE.


This daemon (domain status monitoring daemon) monitors domain state, CPU reset conditions, and the Solaris OE heartbeat for all domains. This daemon notifies the dxs daemon and Sun Management Center software of all changes.


This daemon (domain x server) provides a variety of software support for a running domain including DR, hot-pluggable PCI I/O assembly (HPCI) support, domain driver requests and events, and virtual console support. One dxs daemon is started on the main SC for each running domain.


This daemon (event front end) receives notification of events from various SMS daemons and forwards them to subscribed clients. With SMS 1.1 and 1.2, the only client that can subscribe is Sun Management Center 3.0 software.


This daemon (environmental status monitoring daemon) provides monitoring of the environment conditions of Sun Fire systems, including system cabinet conditions and fan tray and power supply temperatures. One instance of the esmd is run on the main SC.


This daemon (failover management daemon) is the center of the SC failover mechanism through its ability to detect faults on remote or local SCs and take appropriate action. One instance of fomd is run on the main and spare SCs. This daemon uses RPC services on the SC and is the reason why rpcbind is not disabled.


This daemon (FRU access daemon) is the field-replaceable unit (FRU) access daemon for SMS. It is the mechanism by which access is provided to the serial electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (SEEPROMs) within the Sun Fire frame, to which the SC has access. The frad is run on the main and spare SCs.


This daemon (hardware access daemon) implements hardware access for SMS daemons used by the daemons to control, access, configure, and monitor hardware. The hwad is run on the main and spare SCs.


This daemon (key management daemon) manages the IPsec authenticated communication between the SC and domains. One instance of kmd is run on the main SC.


This daemon (management network daemon) supports the Management Network (MAN). The role played by the mand daemon is specified by fomd. One instance of mand is run on both the main and spare SCs.


This daemon (message logging daemon) accepts the output of all SMS daemons and processes and logs those messages based on its configuration files. One instance of mld is run on the main and spare SCs.


This daemon (OpenBoot™ PROM support daemon) supports the OpenBoot PROM process running on a domain through the mailbox that resides on the domain. When the domain OpenBoot PROM writes requests to the mailbox, the osd daemon executes those requests. Only the main SC is responsible for booting domains. One instance of osd is run on the main SC.


This daemon (platform configuration database daemon) is responsible for managing and controlling access to platform and domain configuration information. The pcd is run only on the main SC.


This daemon (SMS startup daemon) starts, stops, and monitors all the key daemons and servers of SMS software. One instance of ssd is run on both the main and spare SCs.


This daemon (task management daemon) implements task management services for the SMS software such as scheduling. Currently, this daemon is used by setkeyswitch and other daemons to schedule hardware power-on self-test (HPOST) invocations. The main SC is responsible for these types of events, so one instance of tmd is run on the main SC.

SC Network Interfaces

There are several network interfaces used on an SC to communicate with the platform, domains, and other SCs. Most of these interfaces are defined as regular Ethernet network connections through /etc/hostname.* entries.

Main SC Network Interfaces

A typical main SC (sc0 in our sample) has two files in /etc with contents similar to the following:

# more /etc/hostname.scman0 netmask + private up
# more /etc/hostname.scman1 netmask + private up

In addition, a typical main SC has corresponding entries in /etc/netmasks:


Non-routed (RFC 1918) IP addresses are used in all SC examples. We recommend that you use these types of IP addresses when deploying Sun Fire SCs. The SMS software defines internal SC network connections to be private and not advertised.

Domain-to-SC Communication (scman0) Interface

The /etc/hostname.scman0 entry sets up the I1 or domain-to-SC MAN. The first IP address in our example,, is a floating IP address controlled by the SMS software to always be available only on the main SC.

From a security perspective, the I1 MAN network between the domains and the SC, in addition to any network connection between the domains, may adversely impact domain separation. The hardware implementation of the I1 network within a Sun Fire 12K or 15K chassis addresses these concerns by permitting only SC-to-domain and domain-to-SC communication. The I1 MAN network is implemented as separate point-to-point physical network connections between the SCs and each of the 9 domains supported by a Sun Fire 12K system or 18 domains supported by a Sun Fire 15K system. Each of these connections terminates at separate I/O boards on each domain and SC.

On the SCs, these multiple separate networks are consolidated into one meta-interface to simplify administration and management. The I1 MAN driver software performs this consolidation and enforces domain separation and failovers to redundant communication paths.

Direct communication between domains over the I1 network is not permitted by the hardware implementation of the I1 network. By implementing the network in this manner, each SC-to-domain network connection is physically isolated from other connections.


Although the scman0 network supports regular Internet Protocol (IP)-based network traffic, it should be used only by Sun Fire management traffic. Any other use of this internal network may affect the reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS) of the entire platform. Refer to the scman (7D) and dman (7D) man pages for more information.

SC-to-SC Communication (scman1) Interface

The /etc/hostname.scman1 entry is used to configure the I2 or SC-to-SC MAN. This network connection, on which both SCs have an IP address, is for the heartbeat connections between the two SCs.

Both of these network connections are implemented through the Sun Fire 12K or 15K internal MAN. No external wiring is used.

Spare SC Network Interfaces

The spare SC has the same physical network interfaces as the main SC. The scman0 network interface is plumbed by the Solaris OE through the /etc/hostname.scman0 file on the spare SC in the same manner, and with the same information as on the main SC. The difference between the main and spare SCs is that the interface is inactive on the spare. The spare SCs scman0 port on the I/O hubs is disabled and mand does not provide path information to scman0 on the spare.

The scman1 interface, which is for SC-to-SC communication, has the following configuration information for this interface:

# more /etc/hostname.scman1 netmask + private up

In addition, the spare SC has the following corresponding /etc/netmask information:

Main and Spare Network Interface Sample Configurations

Putting them all together, our network configuration sample appears as follows on the main SC (sc0):

# ifconfig -a
lo0: flags=1000849<UP,LOOPBACK,RUNNING,MULTICAST,IPv4> mtu 8232 index 1 inet netmask ff000000 

hme0: flags=1000843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,MULTICAST,IPv4> mtu 1500 index 2 inet netmask fffff800 broadcast ether 8:0:20:a8:db:2e 

scman0:flags=1008843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,MULTICAST,PRIVATE,IPv4> mtu 1500 index 3 inet netmask ffffffe0 broadcast ether 8:0:20:a8:db:2e 

scman1:flags=1008843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,MULTICAST,PRIVATE,IPv4> mtu 1500 index 4 inet	netmask fffffffc broadcast ether 8:0:20:a8:db:2e

Although the scman0 network supports regular Internet Protocol (IP)-based network traffic, it should be used only by Sun Fire management traffic. Any other use of this internal network may affect the reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS) of the entire platform. Refer to the scman (7D) and dman (7D) man pages for more information.

Use the following command to verify the status of the main SC:

# showfailover -r

Putting them all together, our sample network configuration appears as follows on the spare SC (sc1):

# ifconfig -a
lo0: flags=1000849<UP,LOOPBACK,RUNNING,MULTICAST,IPv4> mtu 8232 index 1
    inet netmask ff000000 

hme0: flags=1000843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,MULTICAST,IPv4> mtu 1500 index 2
    inet netmask ffffff00 broadcast

scman0:flags=1008843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,MULTICAST,PRIVATE,IPv4> mtu 1500 index 3     
    inet netmask ffffffe0 broadcast 

scman1: flags=1008843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,MULTICAST,PRIVATE,IPv4> mtu 1500 index 4
    inet netmask fffffffc broadcast

Security Options in SMS 1.2

To improve network performance on the I1 MAN network, sequential MAC addresses are used by default on each of the up to 18 domains. With this configuration, it is straightforward to determine what the MAC address is of any given domain. It is possible, therefore, for a domain to broadcast gratuitous ARP information containing erroneous MAC addresses. The SC accepts these malicious MAC packets and uses them to misroute packets destined for domains. To protect against this type of ARP spoofing attack and other IP-based attacks, two options are available beginning with SMS 1.2:

  • Disable ARP on the I1 MAN network between the SCs and domains.

  • Disable all IP traffic between the SC and a domain by excluding that domain from the SC's MAN driver

We strongly recommend that you disable ARP on the MAN network in all multi-domain Sun Fire configurations. For multi-domain system configurations where domain separation is of critical concern, we also recommend disabling IP connectivity between the SC and all domains that require separation.

Disabling ARP on the MAN network provides some protection against ARP attacks, but it still leaves all other IP functionality present in the I1 network. If more stringent security is required, disabling all IP traffic between the SCs and one or more individual domains on the I1 network may be necessary. Instructions for implementing these two options are provided later in this article.


Disabling ARP on the I1 MAN network impacts all domains and SCs within a Sun Fire 12K or 15K chassis. Implementing this option requires modifications to the SCs and all domains.

We recommend running software on the SC to monitor modifications to the ARP table, regardless of whether you use either of these options. One example of such software is arpwatch. Other similar software available either freely or commercially can be used. The freeware arpwatch software generates alerts based on ARP table modifications and is available from a variety of security sites on the Internet. As with any other non-SMS application to be run on an SC, the impact of arpwatch must be evaluated against the OpenSC guidelines presented in the Sun Fire 15K Open System Controller (OpenSC) white paper.

If a domain is excluded from the MAN network, the domain-to-SC network interface dman0 is not configured at installation time. Even if the dman0 interface is manually configured, the domain cannot communicate with the SC because the domain is excluded from the SC perspective. This solution provides excellent protection for the Sun Fire 12K or 15K chassis against malicious domains attempting to attack either the SC or other domains in the chassis. We recommend this solution for environments that require strongly enforced separation between domains and SCs.

Be aware that when you disable all IP traffic on the I1 MAN network, some functionality is no longer available. The services that are unavailable are as follows:

  • Dynamic reconfiguration (DR) from the SC: commands such as addboard, removeboard, deleteboard, and rcfgadm cannot be used for domains excluded from the I1 MAN network

  • Network time protocol (NTP) from the SC for the domains

Domain-side DR is still available for domains that are excluded from the MAN network. Also, console access to the domains is available because console traffic does not have to use the internal I1 MAN network. Console access can use the Sun Fire 12K or 15K server's IOSRAM, or "mailbox," connection to reach the domains. The IOSRAM interface is not TCP/IP based. Services using the IOSRAM interface, such as domain booting, remain available even if IP traffic to one or more domains is disabled.

Ultimately, security policy and enterprise application requirements may be the deciding factor as to which option is most suitable. Disabling ARP on the I1 MAN network provides some protection for domains against ARP attacks, but it still leaves all the functionality present in the MAN network. If more stringent security is required, disable all IP traffic between the SCs and one or more individual domains on the MAN network.

To enforce strict separation between a domain and all other domains and SCs in a Sun Fire 12K or 15K chassis, we recommend that the domain be excluded from the MAN network. This change can only be performed on the SC and is described later in this article.

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  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020