Password-less root access in VM

Background (/etc/sudoers.d/qubes in VM):

user ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL

# WTF?! Have you lost your mind?!
#
# In Qubes VMs there is no point in isolating the root account from
# the user account. This is because all the user data is already
# accessible from the user account, so there is no direct benefit for
# the attacker if she could escalate to root (there is even no benefit
# in trying to install some persistent rootkits, as the VM's root
# filesystem modifications are lost upon each start of a VM).
#
# One might argue that some hypothetical attacks against the
# hypervisor or the few daemons/backends in Dom0 (so VM escape
# attacks) most likely would require root access in the VM to trigger
# the attack.
#
# That's true, but mere existence of such a bug in the hypervisor or
# Dom0 that could be exploited by a malicious VM, no matter whether
# requiring user, root, or even kernel access in the VM, would be
# FATAL. In such situation (if there was such a bug in Xen) there
# really is no comforting that: "oh, but the mitigating factor was
# that the attacker needed root in VM!" We're not M$, and we're not
# gonna BS our users that there are mitigating factors in that case,
# and for sure, root/user isolation is not a mitigating factor.
#
# Because, really, if somebody could find and exploit a bug in the Xen
# hypervisor -- as of 2016, there have been only three publicly disclosed
# exploitable bugs in the Xen hypervisor from a VM -- then it would be
# incidentally by one of the Qubes developers (RW) -- then it would be
# highly unlikely if that person couldn't also found a user-to-root
# escalation in VM (which as we know from history of UNIX/Linux
# happens all the time).
#
# At the same time allowing for easy user-to-root escalation in a VM
# is simply convenient for users, especially for update installation.
#
# Currently this still doesn't work as expected, because some idotic
# piece of software called PolKit uses own set of policies. We're
# planning to address this in Beta 2. (Why PolKit is an idiocy? Do a
# simple experiment: start 'xinput test' in one xterm, running as
# user, then open some app that uses PolKit and asks for root
# password, e.g.  gpk-update-viewer -- observe how all the keystrokes
# with root password you enter into the "secure" PolKit dialog box can
# be seen by the xinput program...)
#
# joanna.

Below is a complete list of configuration made according to the above statement, with (not necessary complete) list of mechanisms depending on each of them:

  1. sudo (/etc/sudoers.d/qubes):

    user ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL
    (...)
    
    • easy user->root access (main option for the user)
    • qvm-usb (not really working, as of R2)
  2. PolicyKit (/etc/polkit-1/rules.d/00-qubes-allow-all.rules):

    //allow any action, detailed reasoning in sudoers.d/qubes
    polkit.addRule(function(action,subject) { return polkit.Result.YES; });
    

    and /etc/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d/qubes-allow-all.pkla:

    [Qubes allow all]
    Identity=*
    Action=*
    ResultAny=yes
    ResultInactive=yes
    ResultActive=yes
    
    • NetworkManager configuration from normal user (nm-applet)
    • updates installation (gpk-update-viewer)
    • user can use pkexec just like sudo Note: above is needed mostly because Qubes user GUI session isn’t treated by PolicyKit/logind as “local” session because of the way in which X server and session is started. Perhaps we will address this issue in the future, but this is really low priority. Patches welcomed anyway.
  3. Empty root password

    • used for access to ‘root’ account from text console (xl console) - the only way to access the VM when GUI isn’t working
    • can be used for easy ‘su -‘ from user to root

Replacing password-less root access with Dom0 user prompt

While ITL supports the statement above, some Qubes users may wish to enable user/root isolation in VMs anyway. We do not support it in any of our packages, but of course nothing is preventing the user from modifying his or her own system. A list of steps to do so is provided here without any guarantee of safety, accuracy, or completeness. Proceed at your own risk. Do not rely on this for extra security.

  1. Adding Dom0 “VMAuth” service:

     [root@dom0 /]# echo -n "/usr/bin/echo 1" >/etc/qubes-rpc/qubes.VMAuth
     [root@dom0 /]# echo -n "\$anyvm dom0 ask" >/etc/qubes-rpc/policy/qubes.VMAuth
    

    (Note: any VMs you would like still to have password-less root access (e.g. TemplateVMs) can be specified in the second file with “<vmname> dom0 allow”)

  2. Configuring Fedora TemplateVM to prompt Dom0 for any authorization request:
    • In /etc/pam.d/system-auth, replace all lines beginning with “auth” with one line:

      auth       [success=done default=die]  pam_exec.so seteuid /usr/lib/qubes/qrexec-client-vm dom0 qubes.VMAuth /usr/bin/grep -q ^1$
      
    • Require authentication for sudo. Replace the first line of /etc/sudoers.d/qubes with:

      user ALL=(ALL) ALL
      
    • Disable PolKit’s default-allow behavior:

      [root@fedora-20-x64]# rm /etc/polkit-1/rules.d/00-qubes-allow-all.rules
      [root@fedora-20-x64]# rm /etc/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d/qubes-allow-all.pkla
      
  3. Configuring Debian/Whonix TemplateVM to prompt Dom0 for any authorization request:
    • In /etc/pam.d/common-auth, replace all lines beginning with “auth” with one line:

      auth       [success=done default=die]  pam_exec.so seteuid /usr/lib/qubes/qrexec-client-vm dom0 qubes.VMAuth /bin/grep -q ^1$
      
    • Require authentication for sudo. Replace the first line of /etc/sudoers.d/qubes with:

      user ALL=(ALL) ALL
      
    • Disable PolKit’s default-allow behavior:

      [root@debian-8]# rm /etc/polkit-1/rules.d/00-qubes-allow-all.rules
      [root@debian-8]# rm /etc/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d/qubes-allow-all.pkla
      
    • In /etc/pam.d/su, comment out this line near the bottom of the file:

      auth sufficient pam_permit.so
      
    • For Whonix, if prompts appear during boot, create /etc/sudoers.d/zz99 and add these lines:

      ALL ALL=NOPASSWD: /usr/sbin/virt-what
      ALL ALL=NOPASSWD: /usr/sbin/service whonixcheck restart
      ALL ALL=NOPASSWD: /usr/sbin/service whonixcheck start
      ALL ALL=NOPASSWD: /usr/sbin/service whonixcheck stop
      ALL ALL=NOPASSWD: /usr/sbin/service whonixcheck status
      

Dom0 password-less root access

There is also password-less user->root access in dom0. As stated in comment in sudo configuration there (different one than VMs one), there is really no point in user/root isolation, because all the user data (and VM management interface) is already accessible from dom0 user level, so there is nothing more to get from dom0 root account.