[ejabberd] Authentication and security problems

Konstantin Khomoutov flatworm at users.sourceforge.net
Mon Apr 11 18:40:53 MSD 2011

On Mon, 11 Apr 2011 16:39:11 +0300
Adriana Moga <adriana.moga at rcs-rds.ro> wrote:

Your post is somewhat chaotic, so I'm not really sure how to detangle
it into separate problem definitions.

> I'm fighting with ejabberd (2.1.5, 2.1.6) on security side.
> Even I have enabled SSL/TLS and a valid certificate the communication 
> per c2s and s2s is not crypted.
Enabling STARTTLS does not, by itself, mean c2s communications will be
encrypted because clients are not required to actually use this feature.
If you want to *force* usage of STARTTLS, look at "starttls_required"
option for the ejabberd_c2s listener [1] and the "s2s_use_starttls"
global/host option which can be set to "required" etc [2].

Note that requiring TLS for clients in the case of a corporate server
is probably a sensible idea, requiring TLS for s2s connections is
probably insane as this most probably will preclude users from certain
public servers from accessing your server.  So I think this option
should be used sparingly; only for the cases if your server is only to
communicate with other federated servers which your corporation
controls (and in this case making them communicate via a secure chann
el (VPN for instance) is probably a way more sensible solution).
Also keep in mind, that if you really need privacy and integrity for
certain communications over XMPP, consider using GPG -- this helps
maintain the required security properties with regard to individual
conversations even over insecure links.

> I can see the passwords in debug loglevel.
> There is a way not seeing them in plain-text?
I don't quite get what do you want: you want to make a Joe Random Admin
not to be able to sniff for the user passwords using the debug log
level?  If yes, see below.

> I'm testing with mnesia local authentication and mysql database
> storage. With mysql: I tried to modify odbc_queries.erl file to crypt
> with MD5 algorithm mysql passwords. The user can be registered with
> MD5 password but nothing more because I don't know what else I need
> to modify in odbc_queries.erl. Zero knowlegde about erlang. So, even
> the user is registered he can't log in client because XML parser is
> interrogating passwords only in plain text. If I paste in client the
> string with encrypted password from mysql users table is working to
> log in but is not a nice solution.
> Here is what I changed in odbc_queries.erl:
>    add_user(LServer, Username, Pass) ->
>      ejabberd_odbc:sql_query(
>        LServer,
>        ["insert into users(username, password) "
>      %%  "values ('", Username, "', '", Pass, "');"]).
> with
>            "values ('", Username, "', MD5('",  (Pass), "'));"]).
This looks much the same as the loglevel problem above.
AFAIK, there's no general solution to this, see [3].

> Also I have tried to use ldap authentication (Active Directory) and
> even the ldap port connection is 636 the authentication is working in 
> plain-text. Same stuff, the passwords appear in plain-text.
> What can I do?
You have to use the "{ldap_encrypt, tls}" option in your LDAP setup [4]
-- this activates usage of the LDAPS protocol.

Note also that if you're using LDAP authentication (seems to be true),
there's no way to not transfer passwords in clear text--ejabberd will
use SASL PLAIN mech to carry out authentication.  On the other hand, it
will not make this mech available to the client unless the STARTTLS has
been successfully used and an encrypted link has been established.
In the light of this, I fail to see how the first point of your message
does apply to the situation: using authentication against LDAP
effectively forces clients to use TLS.

Also note that there's a way to use Kerberos authentication with
ejabberd which obviously does not involve transmission of any
credentials over the wire--look at [5].

3. http://www.ejabberd.im/plaintext-passwords-db
4. http://www.process-one.net/docs/ejabberd/guide_en.html#ldapconnection
5. http://www.ejabberd.im/cyrsasl_gssapi

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