Quick Start to Authenticate with SASL and PAM: ---------------------------------------------- If you don't need the details and are an experienced system administrator you can just do this, otherwise read on. 1) Edit /etc/postfix/main.cf and set this: smtpd_sasl_auth_enable = yes smtpd_sasl_security_options = noanonymous broken_sasl_auth_clients = yes smtpd_recipient_restrictions = permit_sasl_authenticated, permit_mynetworks, reject_unauth_destination 2) Turn on saslauthd: /sbin/chkconfig --level 345 saslauthd on /sbin/service saslauthd start 3) Edit /etc/sysconfig/saslauthd and set this: MECH=pam 4) Restart Postfix: /sbin/service postfix restart A crash course in using SASL with Postfix: ------------------------------------------ Red Hat's Postfix RPMs include support for both SASL and TLS. SASL, the Simple Authentication and Security Layer, allows Postfix to implement RFC 2554, which defines an extension to ESMTP, SMTP AUTH, which compliant ESMTP clients can use to authenticate themselves to ESMTP servers. Typically, this is used to allow roaming users to relay mail through a server safely without configuring the SMTP server to be an open relay. Inclusion of TLS support allows Postfix to implement RFC 2487, which defines an extension to ESMTP, SMTP STARTTLS, which compliant ESMTP clients and servers can use to encrypt the SMTP session. This is a security enhancement -- normally SMTP is transmitted as cleartext over the wire, making it vulnerable to both passive sniffing and active alteration via monkey-in-the-middle attacks. In addition, STARTTLS can also be used by either or both server and client to verify the identity of the other end, making it useful for the same sorts of purposes as SMTP AUTH. The two can even be combined. Typically, this is done by first starting TLS, to encrypt the SMTP session, and then issuing the SMTP AUTH command, to authenticate the client; this combination ensures that the username and password transferred as part of the SMTP AUTH are protected by the TLS encrypted session. SMTP AUTH is implemented using SASL, an abstraction layer which can authenticate against a variety of sources. On Red Hat, SASL can use the /etc/shadow file, or it can use PAM libraries, or it can use its own password database (/etc/sasldb), or it can do various more exotic things. Authentication raises a number of security concerns for obvious reasons. As a consequence authentication services on Red Hat systems are restricted to processes running with root privileges. However for security reasons it is also essential that a mail server such as Postfix run without root privileges so that mail operations cannot compromise the host system. This means that Postfix cannot directly use authentication services because it does not execute with root privileges. The answer to this this problem is to introduce an intermediary process that runs with root privileges which Postfix can communicate with and will perform authentication on behalf of Postfix. The SASL package includes an authentication daemon called saslauthd which provided this service, think of it as an authentication proxy. Using Saslauthd: ---------------- To use saslauthd there are several things you must assure are configured. Selecting an Authentication Method: ----------------------------------- Recall that it is saslauthd which is authenticating, not Postfix. To start with you must tell Postfix to use saslauthd, in main.cf edit this configuration parameter: smtpd_sasl_auth_enable = yes It is also recommended that you disable anonymous logins otherwise you've left your system open, so also add this configuration parameter. smtpd_sasl_security_options = noanonymous Now you must tell saslauthd which authentication method to use. To determine the authentication methods currently supported by saslauthd invoke saslauthd with the -v parameter, it will print its version and its list of methods and then exit, for example: /usr/sbin/saslauthd -v saslauthd 2.1.10 authentication mechanisms: getpwent kerberos5 pam rimap shadow When saslauthd starts up it reads its configuration options from the file /etc/sysconfig/saslauthd. Currently there are two parameters which can be set in this file, MECH and FLAGS. MECH is the authentication mechanism and FLAGS is any command line flags you may wish to pass to saslauthd. To tell saslauthd to use a specific mechanism edit /etc/sysconfig/saslauthd and set the MECH parameter, for example to use PAM it would look like this: MECH=pam Of course you may use any of the other authentication mechanisms that saslauthd reported it supports. PAM is an excellent choice as PAM supports many of the same authentication methods that saslauthd does, but by using PAM you will have centralized all of your authentication configuration under PAM which is one of PAM's greatest assets. How Postfix Interacts with SASL to Name its Authentication Services: -------------------------------------------------------------------- It can be very helpful to understand how Postfix communicates with SASL to name its authentication services. Knowing this will let you identify the configuration files the various components will access. When Postfix invokes SASL it must give SASL an application name that SASL will use among other things to locate a configuration file for the application. The application name Postfix identifies itself as is "smtpd". SASL will append ".conf" to the application name and look for a config file in its library and config directories. Thus SASL will read Postfix's configuration from /etc/sasl2/smtpd.conf This file names the authentication method SASL will use for Postfix (actually for smtpd, other MTA's such as sendmail may use the same file). Because we want to use the saslauthd authentication proxy daemon the contents of this file is: pwcheck_method: saslauthd This tells SASL when being invoked to authentication for Postfix that it should use saslauthd. Saslauthd's mechanism is set in /etc/sysconfig/saslauthd (see below). When Postfix calls on SASL to authenticate it passes to SASL a service name. This service name is used in authentication method specific way. The service name Postfix passes to SASL is "smtp" (note this is not the same as the application name which is "smtpd"). To understand this better consider the case of using PAM authentication. When SASL, or in our case saslauthd, invokes PAM it passes the service name of "smtp" to PAM which means that when PAM wants to read configuration information for this client it will find it under the name of "smtp". Turning on the Authentication Daemon: ------------------------------------- Red Hat security policy is not to automatically enable services belonging to a package when the package is installed. The system administrator must explicitly enable the service. To enable saslauthd do the following: 1) Tell the init process to launch saslauthd when entering various run levels. Assuming you want saslauthd to run at run levels 3,4,5 invoke chkconfig. /sbin/chkconfig --level 345 saslauthd on 2) You will probably want to start saslauthd now without having to reboot, to do this: /sbin/service saslauthd start Trouble Shooting Authentication: -------------------------------- The best way to debug authentication problems is to examine log messages from the authentication components. However, normally these log messages are suppressed. There are two principle reasons the messages are suppressed. The first is that they are typically logged at the DEBUG logging priority level which is the lowest priority and the syslog configuration typically logs only higher priority messages. The second reason is that for security reasons authentication logging is considered a risk. Authentication logging has been divided into two different facilities, auth and authpriv. authpriv is private and is typically shunted off to a different log file with higher protection. You will want to be able to see both auth and authpriv messages at all priorities. To do this as root edit /etc/syslog.conf file, find the following line authpriv.* /var/log/secure edit the line to: authpriv.*;auth.* /var/log/secure Then restart syslogd so the syslog configuration changes will be picked up: /sbin/service syslog restart Now all authentication messages at all priorities will log to /var/log/secure. Using PAM to Authenticate: -------------------------- Edit /etc/sysconfig/saslauthd and set MECH to PAM like this: MECH=pam When PAM is invoked via SASL it is passed a service name of "smtp". This means that PAM will read its configuration parameters for Postfix from the file: /etc/pam.d/smtp. By default this file is set to refer to the global system PAM authentication policy, thus by default you'll get whatever PAM authentication your system is configured for and virtually all applications use. Configuring PAM authentication is beyond the scope of this document, please refer to the PAM documentation if you which to modify PAM. Trouble Shooting PAM Authentication: ------------------------------------ 1) One possible reason PAM may fail to authenticate even if the user is known to the system is if PAM fails to find the service configuration file in /etc/pam.d. Service configuration files are not required by PAM, if it does not find a service configuration file it will default to "other". Since PAM does not consider the absence of a service configuration file a problem it does not log anything nor does it return an error to the calling application. In other words it is completely silent about the fact it did not find a service configuration file. On Red Hat system the default implementation of "other" for PAM is to deny access. This means on Red Hat systems the absence of a PAM service configuration file will mean PAM will silently fail authentication. The PAM service configuration file for postfix is /etc/pam.d/smtp and is intalled by the Red Hat Postfix rpm and put under control of "alternatives" with name mta. Alternatives allows one to select between the sendmail and postfix MTA's and manages symbolic links for files the two MTA's share. /etc/pam.d/smtp is one such file, if you have not selected Postfix as your prefered MTA the link to this file will not be present. To select Postfix as your MTA do this: "/usr/sbin/alternatives --config mta" and follow the prompt to select postfix. 2) Is SASL appending a realm or domain to a username? PAM authentication requires a bare username and password, other authentication methods require the username to be qualified with a realm. Typically the username will be rewritten as user@realm (e.g. email@example.com) PAM does not understand a username with "@realm" appended to it and will fail the authentication with the message that the user is unknown. If the log files shows saslauthd usernames with "@realm" appended to it then the smtpd_sasl_local_domain configuration parameter is likely set in /etc/postfix/main.cf file, make sure its either not set or set it to an empty string. Restart postfix and test authtentication again, the log file should show only a bare username. Using saslpasswd to Authenticate: --------------------------------- SASL can maintain its own password database independent of the host system's authentication setup, it is called saslpasswd. You may wish to use saslpasswd if you want to isolate who can smtp authenticate from general system users. However, it does add another password database that a system administrator must maintain. To authenticate against sasldb, you'll first have to create accounts. These accounts are entirely separate from system accounts, and are used only by connecting SMTP clients to authenticate themselves. Use the saslpassword command: saslpasswd -u `postconf -h myhostname` -c user to create an account named user which can log into realm. For the realm, make absolutely certain that you use the same value as is set for myhostname in /etc/postfix/main.cf. If you don't, it likely won't work. Also, be aware that saslpasswd is somewhat buggy. The first time you run it, it may generate an error message while initializing the sasldb. If it does, just add that user a second time. You'll need to set permissions on the SASL password database so that the Postfix daemons can read it: chgrp postfix /etc/sasldb chmod g+r /etc/sasldb Now, you'll need to modify /etc/postfix/main.cf to tell it to support SASL. The complete options you might want to use are in the sample-auth.cf file in the Postfix documentation directory. An option you will definitely need is: # enable SASL support smtpd_sasl_auth_enable = yes You might also need to set the SASL authentication realm to whatever realm you used when you created your sasldb; by default, this is set to $myhostname, but you instead might need something like: # set SASL realm to domain instead smtpd_sasl_local_domain = $mydomain Other Postfix Authentication Parameters: ---------------------------------------- If you want to allow your already configured users to still use your SMTP server, and to allow users authenticated via SMTP AUTH to use your server as well, then modify your existing smtpd_recipient_restrictions line to; # also allow authenticated (RFC 2554) users smtpd_recipient_restrictions = permit_sasl_authenticated ... If you want to restrict use of your server to just authenticated clients (Note: this is a bad idea for public mail servers), then instead use: # restrict server access to authenticated (RFC 2554) clients smtpd_delay_reject = yes smtpd_client_restrictions = permit_sasl_authenticated ... SASL supports several password types which have differing security properties. Different SMTP clients may support some or all of these password types. When the client issues an EHLO command, the server tells it which types it supports: $ telnet station6 25 Trying 10.100.0.6... Connected to station6.example.com. Escape character is '^]'. 220 station6.example.com ESMTP Postfix ehlo station7 250-station6.example.com 250-PIPELINING 250-SIZE 10240000 250-VRFY 250-ETRN 250-STARTTLS 250-AUTH PLAIN LOGIN DIGEST-MD5 CRAM-MD5 250-XVERP 250 8BITMIME Here, the server supports PLAIN, LOGIN, DIGEST-MD5, and CRAM-MD5 password methods. The client then chooses the first of these listed methods which it also supports, and issues an SMTP AUTH request. For security, PLAIN and LOGIN methods are typically disabled. These two methods use trivially decryptable encryption, making the username and password issued by the client vulnerable to interception via a sniffer in between the server and client. Unfortunately, they can't always be disabled. Some popular SMTP clients, including MS Outlook 5.x, only support PLAIN authentication, for example. To limit the login methods offered by the server: # disable unsafe password methods smtpd_sasl_security_options = noplaintext noanonymous Available options are: noplaintext, which disables LOGIN and PLAIN noanonymous, which disables disables ANON nodictionary, which disables methods vulnerable to dictionary attacks noactive, which disables methods vulnerable to active attacks The last two are rarely used, since almost all supported methods are vulnerable to those attacks ;-). Also be aware that some broken clients mis-implement the SMTP AUTH protocol, and send commands using incorrect syntax (AUTH=foo instead of the correct AUTH foo). MS Outlook 4.x clients have this bug, among a legion of others.... If you need to support these clients, use: # support braindead MS products broken_sasl_auth_clients = yes To help prevent spoofing, you can also create a map file of SASL login names which are allowed to use specific envelope sender (MAIL FROM) addresses. If you choose to do this, you also have to tell Postfix to reject addresses which don't match login names: # prevent spoofing by authenticated users reject_sender_login_mismatch smtpd_sender_login_maps=type:/path/to/file Configuration of SASL clients is much simpler. Postfix itself can be made a SASL client; this is typically useful when roaming users run Linux on their laptop and need to relay mail back through the organization's main server. To enable Postfix to act as an SMTP AUTH client, simply add to /etc/postfix/main.cf: # support authentication (RFC 2557) when relaying through a server smtp_sasl_auth_enable = yes and tell Postfix where to find the usernames and passwords it should use to authenticate: # location of passwords for authentication client smtp_sasl_password_maps = type:/path/to/file The file itself should have the format: destination username:password where destination is the name of the server, and username:password are the username and password which should be presented to that server to authenticate when connecting to it as a client. Optionally, the authentication methods to be used can be specified for the Postfix client, just as they can be for the Postfix server: # disable plaintext and anonymous smtp_sasl_security_options = noplaintext noanonymous Many popular end-user MUAs can also be configured as SMTP AUTH clients. Clients capable of this supplied with Red Hat include pine, Netscape, and Mozilla. Other Sources of Documentation: ------------------------------- /usr/share/doc/postfix-<version>/README_FILES/SASL_README Local configuration examples: /usr/share/doc/postfix-*/samples Postfix Howtos, Guides and Tips by Ralf Hildebrandt and Patrick Koetter can be found at: http://postfix.state-of-mind.de ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Please send any comments / corrections to Chris Ricker <firstname.lastname@example.org>. This material can be freely modified and redistributed. Additional material provided by John Dennis <email@example.com> and Dax Kelson <firstname.lastname@example.org>.