Home arrow Apache arrow Page 5 - Secure Installation and Configuration

Running Apache and Testing it with Nikto - Apache

This chapter provides Apache downloading steps and cautionary tips. Mobily recommends compiling most of the modules dynamically, and leaving the main server stripped to the bones. He covers the free tool Nikto and how to use it. Also see why he says to disable the TRACE method. (From the book Hardening Apache by Tony Mobily, Apress, 2004, ISBN: 1590593782.)

  1. Secure Installation and Configuration
  2. Asymmetric Encryption and GnuPG
  3. GnuPG and Apache Signatures
  4. Checking and Installing Apache
  5. Running Apache and Testing it with Nikto
  6. Secure Configuration
  7. File Permissions
  8. Donít Give Extra Information Away
  9. Apache and SSL
  10. Generate Certificates
  11. Configuration
By: Apress Publishing
Rating: starstarstarstarstar / 31
August 17, 2004

print this article



You can now start the server and check that everything has worked properly. The best way of doing this is through the script called apachectl, located in the $PREFIX/bin (in my case, /usr/local/apache2/bin). This script is ďdesigned to allow an easy command-line interface to controlling ApacheĒ (quoting the script itself ). By running it you will see the options it accepts:

[root@localhost ~]# /usr/local/apache2/bin/apachectl start

In order to check that the server has actually started, you can run a ps command:

[root@merc httpd-2.0.48]# ps ax | grep httpd
17072 ?     S 0:00   /usr/local/apache2/bin/httpd -k start
17073 ?     S 0:00   [httpd]
17074 ?     S 0:00   [httpd]
17075 ?     S 0:00   [httpd]
17076 ?     S 0:00   [httpd]
17077 ?     S 0:00   [httpd]
17079 pts/2 S 0:00   grep httpd
[root@merc httpd-2.0.48]#

A better way of checking it is through its log file:

[root@merc httpd-2.0.48]# tail -f
[Sun Aug 03 14:30:24 2003] [notice] Digest: generating secret for digest authentication ...
[Sun Aug 03 14:30:24 2003] [notice] Digest: done
[Sun Aug 03 14:30:24 2003] [notice] Apache/2.0.48 (Unix) DAV/2 configured
-- resuming normal operations

The server is now listening to port 80 on your computer, and waiting for connections...

Testing Your Apache with Nikto

You should periodically check whether your Apache server is secure or not. To do this by hand can be very hard, as there can be problems that simply slip through. Fortunately, there are several tools for Unix whose sole purpose is testing a server from a security point of view. For example:

NOTE A more comprehensive list of tools is available at http://www.insecure.org/tools.html.

As far as Apache is concerned, the most interesting free solution is Nikto, a tool based on LibWisker(http://www.wiretrip.net/rfp/). In this section I will show you how to install Nikto, and run it against the Apache server you just installed.

First of all, you will need to install Net_SSLeay (http://search.cpan.org/author/SAMPO/Net_SSLeay.pm-1.23), used by Nikto to establish SSL connections. The installation procedure is the same as with any other Perl module:

[root@merc root]# tar xvzf Net_SSLeay.pm-1.23.tar.gz
[root@merc root]#
cd Net_SSLeay.pm-1.23
[root@merc Net_SSLeay.pm-1.23]#
perl Makefile.PL
Checking for OpenSSL-0.9.6j or 0.9.7b or newer...
Writing Makefile for Net::SSLeay::Handle
Writing Makefile for Net::SSLeay
[root@merc Net_SSLeay.pm-1.23]#
cp ptrtstrun.pl blib/lib/Net/ptrtstrun.pl
chmod 644 blib/arch/auto/Net/SSLeay/SSLeay.bs 
Manifying blib/man3/Net::SSLeay.3pm
[root@merc Net_SSLeay.pm-1.23]#
make install
make[1]: Entering directory `/mnt/hda6/home/merc/Net_SSLeay.pm-1.23/Net-SSLeay-Handle-0.50'
make[1]: Leaving directory `/mnt/hda6/home/merc/Net_SSLeay.pm-1.23/Net-SSLeay-Handle-0.50'
Files found in blib/arch: installing files in blib/lib into architecture dependent library tree
Writing /usr/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.8.0/i386-linux-thread-multi/auto/Net/SSLeay/.packlist
Appending installation info to /usr/lib/perl5/5.8.0/i386-linux-thread-multi/perl-local.pod
[root@merc Net_SSLeay.pm-1.23]#

You will need OpenSSL (http://www.openssl.org) for this module to install. You will then need to download and uncompress Nikto:

[root@merc root# tar xvzf ../nikto-current.tar.gz
[root@merc root]#
cd nikto-1.30/
[root@merc nikto-1.30]# ls -l
total 20
-rw-r--r--   1 root sys 2999 May 31 06:52  config.txt
drwxrwxrwx   2 root sys 4096 Jun 19 06:17  docs
-rwxr-xr-x   1 root sys 5997 May 31 06:21  nikto.pl
drwxrwxrwx   2 root sys 4096 Jun 19 06:17  plugins
[root@merc nikto-1.30]#

Nikto doesnít need to be installed: itís ready to go as soon as you uncompress it. However, two steps are recommended. The first one is downloading the latest LibWisker from http://www.wiretrip.net/rfp/lw.asp. (Although Nikto comes with LibWisker, it may not be the latest version available).

LibWisker comes as a single LW.pm file. Assuming that you downloaded it and placed it in your home directory, you can copy the new LW.pm file over the existing one in Nikto:

[root@merc nikto-1.30]# cd plugins/
[root@merc plugins]# cp ~merc/LW.pm .

cp: overwrite `./LW.pm'? y
[root@merc plugins]#

The second step is to update Niktoís database with the latest database and vulnerability files available from Niktoís web sites. You can do this automatically with Niktoís -update option:

[root@merc nikto-1.30]# ./nikto.pl -update
+ Retrieving 'realms.db'
+ Retrieving 'server_msgs.db'
+ Retrieving 'nikto_headers.plugin'
+ Retrieving 'nikto_httpoptions.plugin'
+ Retrieving 'servers.db'
+ Retrieving 'nikto_core.plugin'
+ Retrieving 'scan_database.db'
+ Retrieving 'outdated.db'
+ Retrieving 'CHANGES.txt'getting:/nikto/UPDATES/1.30/CHANGES
www.cirt.net message: Please report any bugs found in the 1.30 version
[root@merc nikto-1.30]#

You can now run Nikto, specifying your freshly installed Apache server as the target. In my case, this is the result:

[root@merc nikto-1.30]# ./nikto.pl -host localhost
-Nikto 1.30/1.13       -       
+ Target IP:
+ Target Hostname: localhost
+ Target Port:     80
+ Start Time:      Sat Aug 16 21:38:43 2003
-Scan is dependent on "Server" string which can be faked, use -g to override
+ Server: Apache/2.0.48 (Unix) DAV/2
+ IIS may reveal its internal IP in the Content-Location header. The value is "index.html.en". CAN-2000-0649.
+ HTTP method 'TRACE' may allow client XSS or credential theft. See http://www.cgisecurity.com/whitehat-mirror/WhitePaper_screen.pdf for details.
+ /icons/ - Directory indexing is enabled, it should only be enabled for specific directories (if required). If indexing is not used all, the /icons directory should be removed. (GET)
+ /index.html.ca - Apache default foreign language file found. All default filesshould be removed from the web server as they may give an attacker additional system information. (GET)
+ /index.html.var - Apache default foreign language file found. All default filesshould be removed from the web server as they may give an attacker additional system information. (GET)
+ /manual/images/ - Apache 2.0 directory indexing is enabled, it should only beenabled for specific directories (if required). Apache's manual should be removed and directory indexing disabled. (GET)
+ / - TRACE option appears to allow XSS or credential theft. See http://www.cgisecurity.com/whitehat-mirror/WhitePaper_screen.pdf for details (TRACE) 
+ /manual/ - Web server manual? tsk tsk. (GET)
+ 1688 items checked - 30 items found on remote host
+ End Time: Sat Aug 16 21:41:08 2003 (145 seconds)
[root@merc nikto-1.30]#

Apache was only just installed, and it already has several problems! Nikto pointed out the following issues:

  • The method TRACE is enabled; this could lead to cross-site scripting attacks. (Chapter 4 in this book covers this type of attack.) The report points to http://www.betanews.com/whitehat/WHWhitePaper_XST_ebook.pdf (if the link doesnít work, you should search on Google using the keywords WH-WhitePaper_XST_ebook.pdf or WhitePaper_screen.pdf). Itís a very clear document that explains the issue in detail. Many system administrators consider it a non-issue, because itís used to tell the clients what they already know. If you want extra peace of mind, disable TRACE (the next section describes how to do this).

  • The directories /icons and /manual/images allow indexing. This should be disabled for production servers (remember that both these directories reside under ServerRoot, and not in the machineís root directory /).

  • Apacheís manual is still installed. It should be deleted on production servers for three reasons. The main one is that you donít want to give away too much information on the server you are running (a cracker can work out at least if you are running Apache 1.3. x or Apache 2.0. x by seeing the manual). Also, you want to be fully in control of what your web server is actually serving. Finally, itís a matter of style: the presence of the manual often means that the system administrator didnít spend too long configuring the server properly.

  • Several default HTML index pages were found.

Most of the problems came from the fact that absolutely nothing was done after installing Apacheóthe manual and the default index.html files werenít even deleted.

Nikto has several more options. You can, for example, enable one or more intrusion detection system (IDS) evasion techniques, or scan a predefined port range, use a proxy server, and so on. Please refer to Niktoís documentation for more information.

You should keep Nikto handy, and run it periodically (and after any server upgrades). You should also consider using other vulnerability assessment tools as well as Nikto (see Appendix A for a list of some of these tools).

This chapter is from Hardening Apache, by Tony Mobily. (Apress, 2004, ISBN: 1590593782). Check it out at your favorite bookstore today. Buy this book now.

>>> More Apache Articles          >>> More By Apress Publishing

blog comments powered by Disqus
escort Bursa Bursa escort Antalya eskort


- Apache Unveils Cassandra 1.2
- Apache on ARM Chips? Dell and Calxeda Help M...
- The Down Side of Open Source Software
- VMware Unveils Serengeti for Apache Hadoop
- SAP Takes Steps to Improve Hadoop Integration
- Looking to Hone Apache Hadoop Skills?
- How to Install Joomla on WAMPP
- Working with XAMPP and Wordpress
- GUI Available for Apache Camel
- Reduce Server Load for Apache and PHP Websit...
- Creating a VAMP (Vista, Apache, MySQL, PHP) ...
- Putting Apache in Jail
- Containing Intrusions in Apache
- Server Limits for Apache Security
- Setting Permissions in Apache

Developer Shed Affiliates


Dev Shed Tutorial Topics: