I read an interesting article last night which highlited some problems with the way SSH process communication happens. I am writing a post about it because it is so simple and yet so effective.

Here is the scenario:
Let’s say that you have a linux system running the latest set of patches/OpenSSH. You have multiple users on the system, and one or more of them have sudo/su/escalated privileges. The idea is that when user ‘A’ connects to the system, user ‘C’ will be able to sniff out their password.

The details:
The idea is that almost all ssh daemons by default are configured to use “Privilege Separation”. This means that sshd spawns a process (child) that is unprivileged to listen for incoming network requests. After the user authenticates, another process gets created running as the authenticated user. The magic happens in between these two processes.

A simple example:
User ‘C’ ssh-es into the system, escalates their privledges (either by legitimate or non-legitimate means) and starts listening for newly created ssh ‘net’ processes. As soon as user ‘C’ sees a process being crated, they immediately attach strace to it.

A simple way to do it is by:

or even better:


Continue Reading →Sniffing SSH Password from the Server Side