Raspberry Pi boards are fantastic for any project — they’re cheap, easy to use, can run a wide range of possible operating systems, and provide programmable GPIO pins as well as multi-core CPU availability and multiple USB ports.
You can use Raspberry Pi boards for all kinds of automation and information gathering projects. But, if you are not careful, your little hobby project might result in a security risk that acts as an entry point into your network. They can’t perform secure booting such as ARM Trustzone, and the SD card and operating system are not easily encrypted. Follow these security tips to safeguard your Pi and other devices on your network.
Why would anyone hack a Raspberry Pi?
- Its computing power can be abused for operations like mining cryptocurrency an example being Bitcoin.
- It can be used as a bounce point to attack other hosts, in order to cover the attacker’s tracks.
- It’s an entry point to the rest of an internal network. An attacker can easily reach the file servers and try to install ransomware, obtain documents for blackmail, or manipulate the firewall and router settings to ensure persistent access in the future for later nefarious actions, either by attacking the web console of the router or performing uPNP manipulation to open up more ports to the Internet for attack.
Change the default passwords — If you are installing a recent version of NOOBS or Raspbian, be sure to change the default password of the “pi” user to something that is long and hard to guess. A passphase like “gob3ismuschbetterthanrice” is much better than P@assword1! Even if you plan on disabling the account, this first step is basic protection in case you forget.
Your next step should be to disable the default Pi account in Raspbian. Before doing this, create a new account on the system. You can use the useradd command to do this, with some extra flags to specify that a new home directory be created for the user. Log in as the Pi user and issue the command:
$ sudo /usr/sbin/useradd --groups sudo -invntelectronix
Use your own username instead of “invntelectronix.” This will create a new account, create a directory for the account (such as /home/invntelectronix), and add the new account to the sudo group so the user can use the sudo command. Once the new user account is created we need to set a password for the account. You can do this using the command:
$ sudo passwd invntelectronix
Next, reset the root password. Choose something long and hard to guess.
$ sudo passwd root
Finally, you’ll want to disable the Pi account:
$ sudo passwd --lock pi
Now you can log out of the Pi account and log in with your new account and password.
By default, Raspbian installs a remote access shell (SSH) that can be accessed from anywhere. You can disable this by setting up SSH so that only machines with an authorized SSH key can log in. Back up your private keys in at least two locations you trust.
To set them up, edit the SSH configuration file using vi, or another text editor, with the command:
$ sudo vi /etc/ssh/sshd_config
Make sure the following lines are set and uncommented — meaning that the lines are in the file and they aren’t preceded with a hash tag symbol, which marks a line as a comment and ignores it for configuration purposes:
# Authentication: LoginGraceTime 120 PermitRootLogin no StrictModes yes RSAAuthentication yes PubkeyAuthentication yes AuthorizedKeysFile %h/.ssh/authorized_keys # To enable empty passwords, change to yes (NOT RECOMMENDED) PermitEmptyPasswords no # Change to yes to enable challenge-response passwords (beware issues with # some PAM modules and threads) ChallengeResponseAuthentication no # Change to no to disable tunnelled clear text passwords PasswordAuthentication no UsePAM no
The last line is very important since it will disable Pluggable Authentication Modules (PAM), or native Linux authentication, and only allow users to log in with a key. Next, generate an SSH key. You can do this with PuTTY on Windows or with the ssh-keygen command on Linux. Create a .ssh directory in your user’s home directory and an authorized_keys file with the following commands. Be sure to set the permissions properly (otherwise the key based authentication will fail):
$ mkdir ~/.ssh $ chmod 0700 ~/.ssh $ touch ~/.ssh/authorized_keys $ chmod 0600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
Next use your text editor to edit the authorized_keys file and paste in the public key you generated so you can log in. Be sure to restart SSH to ensure the changes take effect using the command:
$ sudo systemctl restart ssh
Once you’ve locked down SSH, you’ll want to ensure that the iptables firewall is running on your Pi. For good measure, you can configure the firewall so that it logs a message whenever a firewall rule is activated and a connection is blocked. First make sure that iptables is installed using the command:
$ sudo apt-get install iptables iptables-persistent
Note that using the iptables firewall will require new kernel modules to be loaded. The easiest way to load them is to reboot your Pi. Once iptables is installed, go ahead and check the current iptables rules with the command:
$ sudo /sbin/iptables -L
This will list the rules, which are probably empty. You can save these rules off to a text file and edit it using the command:
$ sudo /sbin/iptables-save > /etc/iptables/rules.v4
This is the file that iptables-persistent uses when your system boots or reboots to make sure that the firewall is still running. Save, then edit the file so that it looks somewhat like the following (altering whatever rules you need):
$ sudo cat /etc/iptables/rules.v4
:INPUT ACCEPT [0:0] :FORWARD ACCEPT [0:0] :OUTPUT ACCEPT [0:0] # Allows all loopback (lo0) traffic and drop all traffic to 127/8 that doesn't use lo0
-A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT -A INPUT ! -i lo -d 127.0.0.0/8 -j REJECT # Accepts all established inbound connections -A INPUT -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT # Allows all outbound traffic # You could modify this to only allow certain traffic -A OUTPUT -j ACCEPT # Allows SSH connections # The --dport number is the same as in /etc/ssh/sshd_config -A INPUT -p tcp -m state --state NEW --dport 22 -j ACCEPT # log iptables denied calls (access via 'dmesg' command) -A INPUT -m limit --limit 5/min -j LOG --log-prefix "iptables denied: " --log-level 7 # Reject all other inbound - default deny unless explicitly allowed policy: -A INPUT -j REJECT -A FORWARD -j REJECT COMMIT
Next, ensure your iptables are working properly. This can be tricky because you might be remotely connected via SSH, and if you’ve messed something up you don’t want your connection to be severed. Thankfully, there is a command that will help you by applying rules and asking for confirmation that you can still connect. If you don’t respond in a certain amount of time the program will assume you’ve gotten disconnected and it will roll back your changes. If you do respond, it will apply your changes permanently. To accomplish this use the command:
$ sudo /usr/sbin/iptables-apply /etc/iptables/rules.v4
If everything works, your changes will be applied and you can check them with the command:
$ sudo /sbin/iptables -L
Turn off what you do not need. Ensure your firewall only exposes the services you want, preferably on non-default ports.
Put it on its own network. Ensure the Pi is installed on its own network and that it cannot reach other parts of the network while ensuring its outbound connections to the internet are known and filtered for daily use. You should not be able to contact your home file server or other systems from the Pi, and its internet connectivity should be limited.
Secure your Raspberry Pi and keep Building!!