Chapter 11. Security in NetSolve Client

Table of Contents
Compiling a Kerberized Server
Running a Kerberized NetSolve Client


NetSolve components include clients, agents, and servers. Currently the only requests that require authentication are requests that the client makes to the server, and of those, only the ``run problem'' request. Other requests could be authenticated (an obvious one being ``kill server''), but drastic changes along these lines would probably require drastic restructuring of NetSolve. For instance, a client can currently inform an agent that a particular server is down, and the agent will not advertise that server for use in other problems. It seems of dubious value to require authentication for such requests until there is a mechanism for specifying the trust relationship between clients and agents.

An attempt has been made to allow Kerberized NetSolve clients to interoperate with both Kerberized and non-Kerberized NetSolve servers. In either case the client sends a request to the server. An ordinary server will return a status code indicating that he will accept the requested operation. By contrast, a Kerberized server will immediately return an ``authentication required'' error in response to the request. The client is then required to send Kerberos credentials to the server before the request will be processed. This allows the server to require authentication of the client. Currently there is no mechanism to allow the client to insist on authentication of the server. A Kerberized client will happily talk with either Kerberized or non-Kerberized servers.

The server implements access control via a simple list of Kerberos principal names. This list is kept in a text file which is consulted by the server. A request to a NetSolve server must be made on behalf of one of those principal names. If the principal name associated with the Kerberos credentials in the request appears in the list, and the credentials are otherwise valid, the request will be honored. Otherwise, the request will be denied.

Since the NetSolve server was not designed to run as a set-uid program, it is not currently feasible to have the NetSolve server run processes using the user-id of the particular UNIX user who submitted the request. NetSolve thus uses its own service principal name of ``netsolve'' rather than using the ``host'' principal. What this means (among other things) is that you need to generate service principals and keytabs for each of your NetSolve servers, even if you already have host principals in place.

The NetSolve server, by default, runs in non-Kerberized mode. To start up the server in Kerberized mode you need to add the -k option to the command-line, and also set environment variables NETSOLVE_KEYTAB (pointing to the keytab) and NETSOLVE_USERS pointing to the list of authorized users).

This version of Kerberized NetSolve performs no encryption of the data exchanged among NetSolve clients, servers, or agents. Nor is there any integrity protection for the data stream.