13.10. Monitoring Third Party Security Issues

Contributed by Tom Rhodes.

In recent years, the security world has made many improvements to how vulnerability assessment is handled. The threat of system intrusion increases as third party utilities are installed and configured for virtually any operating system available today.

Vulnerability assessment is a key factor in security. While FreeBSD releases advisories for the base system, doing so for every third party utility is beyond the FreeBSD Project's capability. There is a way to mitigate third party vulnerabilities and warn administrators of known security issues. A FreeBSD add on utility known as pkg includes options explicitly for this purpose.

pkg polls a database for security issues. The database is updated and maintained by the FreeBSD Security Team and ports developers.

Please refer to instructions for installing pkg.

Installation provides periodic(8) configuration files for maintaining the pkg audit database, and provides a programmatic method of keeping it updated. This functionality is enabled if daily_status_security_pkgaudit_enable is set to YES in periodic.conf(5). Ensure that daily security run emails, which are sent to root's email account, are being read.

After installation, and to audit third party utilities as part of the Ports Collection at any time, an administrator may choose to update the database and view known vulnerabilities of installed packages by invoking:

# pkg audit -F

pkg displays messages any published vulnerabilities in installed packages:

Affected package: cups-base-
Type of problem: cups-base -- HPGL buffer overflow vulnerability.
Reference: <http://www.FreeBSD.org/ports/portaudit/40a3bca2-6809-11d9-a9e7-0001020eed82.html>

1 problem(s) in your installed packages found.

You are advised to update or deinstall the affected package(s) immediately.

By pointing a web browser to the displayed URL, an administrator may obtain more information about the vulnerability. This will include the versions affected, by FreeBSD port version, along with other web sites which may contain security advisories.

pkg is a powerful utility and is extremely useful when coupled with ports-mgmt/portmaster.

All FreeBSD documents are available for download at http://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/doc/

Questions that are not answered by the documentation may be sent to <freebsd-questions@FreeBSD.org>.
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