Disable Host-Based Authentication

Description

SSH’s cryptographic host-based authentication is more secure than .rhosts authentication. However, it is not recommended that hosts unilaterally trust one another, even within an organization.

The default SSH configuration disables host-based authentication. The appropriate configuration is used if no value is set for HostbasedAuthentication.

To explicitly disable host-based authentication, add or correct the following line in

/etc/ssh/sshd_config:

HostbasedAuthentication no

Rationale

SSH trust relationships mean a compromise on one host can allow an attacker to move trivially to other hosts.

Remediation

Shell script

The following script can be run on the host to remediate the issue.

#!/bin/bash

# Remediation is applicable only in certain platforms
if [ ! -f /.dockerenv ] && [ ! -f /run/.containerenv ]; then

if [ -e "/etc/ssh/sshd_config" ] ; then
    
    LC_ALL=C sed -i "/^\s*HostbasedAuthentication\s\+/Id" "/etc/ssh/sshd_config"
else
    touch "/etc/ssh/sshd_config"
fi
# make sure file has newline at the end
sed -i -e '$a\' "/etc/ssh/sshd_config"

cp "/etc/ssh/sshd_config" "/etc/ssh/sshd_config.bak"
# Insert at the beginning of the file
printf '%s\n' "HostbasedAuthentication no" > "/etc/ssh/sshd_config"
cat "/etc/ssh/sshd_config.bak" >> "/etc/ssh/sshd_config"
# Clean up after ourselves.
rm "/etc/ssh/sshd_config.bak"

else
    >&2 echo 'Remediation is not applicable, nothing was done'
fi

Ansible playbook

The following playbook can be run with Ansible to remediate the issue.

- name: Disable Host-Based Authentication
  block:

  - name: Check for duplicate values
    lineinfile:
      path: /etc/ssh/sshd_config
      create: true
      regexp: (?i)^\s*HostbasedAuthentication\s+
      state: absent
    check_mode: true
    changed_when: false
    register: dupes

  - name: Deduplicate values from /etc/ssh/sshd_config
    lineinfile:
      path: /etc/ssh/sshd_config
      create: true
      regexp: (?i)^\s*HostbasedAuthentication\s+
      state: absent
    when: dupes.found is defined and dupes.found > 1

  - name: Insert correct line to /etc/ssh/sshd_config
    lineinfile:
      path: /etc/ssh/sshd_config
      create: true
      regexp: (?i)^\s*HostbasedAuthentication\s+
      line: HostbasedAuthentication no
      state: present
      insertbefore: BOF
      validate: /usr/sbin/sshd -t -f %s
  when: ansible_virtualization_type not in ["docker", "lxc", "openvz", "podman", "container"]
  tags:
  - CJIS-5.5.6
  - NIST-800-171-3.1.12
  - NIST-800-53-AC-17(a)
  - NIST-800-53-AC-3
  - NIST-800-53-CM-6(a)
  - NIST-800-53-CM-7(a)
  - NIST-800-53-CM-7(b)
  - PCI-DSSv4-8.3.1
  - disable_host_auth
  - low_complexity
  - low_disruption
  - medium_severity
  - no_reboot_needed
  - restrict_strategy