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Platform Security

System security is important for any computing system, and the Sun Fire server is no exception. This section contains descriptions of the following basic platform security topics:

  • "Recommendations for User Authorization"

  • "Telnet Sessions"

  • "Keyswitch Settings"

The following sections contain general concepts of platform security. For detailed information, refer to the security documents in "References" on page 27.

Because the Sun Fire domains run the same Solaris OE as other systems, basic security practices that apply to any Solaris OE system also apply to the Sun Fire servers. These practices include regular patch maintenance, stopping unnecessary network services, and choosing good passwords to prevent account abuse. However, with the SC, the architecture of the Sun Fire server causes additional security considerations. In addition, because the SC is key to the administration and operation of a Sun Fire server, the security capabilities of the SC are more limited.

Great care should be taken in the setup of the system to ensure that access is restricted only to authorized personnel. Failure to properly secure access to the SC can adversely affect the operation of the Sun Fire server. Refer to the Sun BluePrints OnLine article "Securing the Sun Fire™ Midframe System Controller (Update for 5.13.x)" for more information.

Recommendations for User Authorization

To help deter unauthorized access, passwords should be set on the SC platform and domain shells. You can set these passwords by using the password command with the -d domain option from either the SC platform or domain shells. The password command issued from a domain shell, can only be used to change the password for that particular domain.

The SC does not enforce any password standards, and it maintains no records of failed login attempts or the source of the login attempts. Given the importance of these passwords, especially in terms of restricting access to critical system resources, chose passwords that cannot be easily guessed or discovered using a brute-force attack. Passwords for the SC can and should be longer than eight characters. It is strongly recommended that passwords for platform access and superuser (root) access on the domains be different.

Serial Port Access

It is extremely important to carefully control access to the SC serial port. The serial port is the lowest level of access to the SC, so an unprotected serial port could have serious consequences to the operation of the Sun Fire system because access to the serial port can compromise the application that runs on the SC. Because that application controls the entire Sun Fire system, improper access could result in undesired changes to critical settings or in system outages. Attach the serial port connection of the SC to a password-controlled terminal server or directly to the MSP where access can be monitored and logged.

Telnet Sessions

There is no current capability for session encryption between a host and the SC through the Ethernet interface. Because telnet sessions are used to make connections to the SC, maintaining a secure network is of the utmost importance. It is strongly recommended that the MSP and the SCs be placed on a private, switched, nonrouted network. The MSP should be the only way to access the SCs, and access to the MSP should be carefully secured, monitored, and encrypted if possible. This includes using a terminal server that supports encryption (for example, Secure Shell) if possible. If the terminal server does not support encryption, be sure to place the terminal server on the private network, not on the public network.

In cases where corporate security policy dictates the use of encrypted sessions on all networks, you can connect the Ethernet interface on the SC directly to a secured workstation with an Ethernet cross-over cable. Then, you can require encrypted sessions between other hosts and the secured workstation. Due diligence should also be exercised to keep the MSP and SC up-to-date in terms of patches.

To further enhance the security of the MSP, you should use a tool such as the Solaris? Security Toolkit (formerly known as JASS) to install and improve the security profile of the MSP. You can obtain the Solaris Security Toolkit from:


While it is advantageous to set up an httpd web server and/or an anonymous FTP server on the MSP to facilitate firmware updates to the SC, both of these network services have traditionally been common sources for security issues. Because a compromised MSP could also compromise the SC and the entire Sun Fire platform, it is important to pay close attention to the setup of these services, to the security patches applied for these services, and to the access to the MSP, which must be carefully configured.

With SC firmware 5.13.0, and higher, you can control the behavior of Telnet access to the SC. The following shows an example of how to control Telnet access.

heslab-16-sc0:SC> setupplatform -p security

Security Options
Enable telnet servers? [yes]: yes
Idle connection timeout (in minutes; 0 means no timeout) [0]: 5


It is preferable to access the SCs through the Ethernet port using a Telnet connection. Thus, Telnet services should remain enabled unless there is a requirement to turn it off. Inactive connections should be disconnected after some period of time because they potentially represent a security problem.

Keyswitch Settings

During normal operations, it is recommended that the virtual domain keyswitch be set to secure by using the following command:

heslab-16-sc0:A> setkeyswitch secure

Setting the keyswitch to secure prevents firmware updates to I/O and system boards in the domain. It also prevents an operator from sending a break command to the running domain and accidentally terminating the Solaris OE. The keyswitch needs to be changed to the on position before sending a break command or updating firmware. Only domain administrators with access to the domain shell can set the keyswitch to the secure position.

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