SELinux fix: allowing write to /var/lib/mod_security/

There’s a long-standing bug that prevents mod_security from writing to /var/lib/mod_security/.

According to Red Hat Bugzilla this bug should been fixed around May 2013, but it still exists – on fully patched CentOS 6.5. From /var/log/audit/audit.log:

type=AVC msg=audit(1411718594.811:7017): avc: denied { write } for pid=28144 comm="httpd" name="global.dir" \
dev=dm-0 ino=1577960 scontext=unconfined_u:system_r:httpd_t:s0 tcontext=unconfined_u:object_r:var_lib_t:s0 tclass=file

type=AVC msg=audit(1411718594.812:7018): avc: denied { write } for pid=28144 comm="httpd" name="ip.dir" \
dev=dm-0 ino=1577962 scontext=unconfined_u:system_r:httpd_t:s0 tcontext=unconfined_u:object_r:var_lib_t:s0 tclass=file

To relabel this directory with the proper “httpd_var_lib_t” context, run the following as root:

semanage fcontext -a -t httpd_var_lib_t "/var/lib/mod_security(/.*)?"
restorecon -Rv /var/lib/mod_security

SELinux context for website with FTP access

So, you have decided to leave SELinux enabled. Congratulations, you have just taken a major step in securing your Internet-facing system.

Let’s say you are hosting a website that needs to be updated using FTP. By default, webserver content is labeled as:


This context prevents you from updating files using the FTP server. If both HTTP (Apache) and FTP (vsftpd) access is needed, the SELinux context should be:


You can either run “chcon” to temporarily fix this, or make the changes permanent by adding a proper local SELinux rule:

semanage fcontext -a -t public_content_rw_t "/var/www/html(/.*)?"
restorecon -Rv /var/www/html

Replace “/var/www/html” by your actual DocumentRoot as defined in Apache. The “semanage” command merely adds the rule to the SELinux database. The “restorecon” command performs the actual relabeling of your files.

Verify your changes using “ls -lZ”:

[root@webserver www]# ls -lZ
drwxr-sr-x. ed www unconfined_u:object_r:httpd_sys_content_t:s0 cgi-bin
drwxr-sr-x. ed www unconfined_u:object_r:httpd_sys_content_t:s0 error
drwxr-sr-x. ed www unconfined_u:object_r:public_content_rw_t:s0 html
drwxr-sr-x. ed www unconfined_u:object_r:httpd_sys_content_t:s0 icons


Workaround for Nagios check_linux_raid failure in RHEL / CentOS 6.2

I recently stumbled upon another Nagios plugin that no longer works with SELinux under RHEL / CentOS 6.2: check_linux_raid.

Just like the check_disk plugin, it has the nagios_checkdisk_plugin_exec_t SELinux type. As of May 2012, this problem has not yet been fixed.

The workaround is simple, as with the check_disk plugin:

chcon -t nagios_unconfined_plugin_exec_t /usr/lib64/nagios/plugins/check_linux_raid

Or, for 32-bit systems:

chcon -t nagios_unconfined_plugin_exec_t /usr/lib/nagios/plugins/check_linux_raid

PNP4Nagios with SElinux on CentOS / RHEL 6

PNP4Nagios is commonly used to add performance graphs to a Nagios installation.

For additional security, SElinux is enabled on the monitoring host. There is no standard SElinux policy for applications like PNP4Nagios, so we need to develop a custom policy. This sounds harder than it actually is:

  • Run the software as you normally would (SElinux will interfere, so prepare for errors)
  • Extract audit messages and use them to create or update a local SElinux policy for the software
  • Repeat until everything works

In this example, I am running Nagios 3.2.3 with PNP4Nagios 0.6.16 on EL6, 64-bit.

After configuring Nagios and PNP4Nagios integration in Synchronous Mode (see documentation), I noticed that PNP4Nagios is not logging any performance data to /var/lib/pnp4nagios/.

Normally, PNP4Nagios should automatically create directories and files under /var/lib/pnp4nagios as performance data is received by Nagios. This smells of an SElinux issue, so check /var/log/audit/audit.log for suspicious messages. Sure enough, several audit messages have been logged. They look like this:

type=AVC msg=audit(1329129875.344:198212): avc:  denied  { getattr } for  pid=26692 comm="process_perfdat" \
    path="/var/lib/pnp4nagios/orac/Root_Partition.xml.26692" dev=dm-0 ino=1444378 \
    scontext=unconfined_u:system_r:nagios_t:s0 tcontext=unconfined_u:object_r:var_lib_t:s0 tclass=file
type=SYSCALL msg=audit(1329129875.344:198212): arch=c000003e syscall=5 success=no exit=-13 a0=3 a1=25440a0 \
    a2=25440a0 a3=0 items=0 ppid=26691 pid=26692 auid=0 uid=498 gid=498 euid=498 suid=498 fsuid=498 egid=498 \
    sgid=498 fsgid=498 tty=(none) ses=14942 comm="process_perfdat" exe="/usr/bin/perl" subj=unconfined_u:system_r:nagios_t:s0 key=(null)

Create a policy

You can run the “audit2allow” command (part of the policycoreutils-python RPM) to display suggested policy improvements based on the audit log:

audit2allow -a

The output can be saved in a file, for example local_nagios.te:

grep nagios_t /var/log/audit/audit.log | audit2allow -l -v -m local_nagios > local_nagios.te

This generates an output file suitable for compiling into a custom SElinux module.

Note: ALWAYS prefix the policy name with something like local_ to prevent overwriting system policies!

Test and refine the policy

Compile and load the SElinux policy module:

checkmodule -M -m -o local_nagios.mod local_nagios.te
semodule_package -o local_nagios.pp -m local_nagios.mod
semodule -v -i local_nagios.pp

Note: The above tools can be found in the checkpolicy and policycoreutils RPMs.

Re-run the software and check for SElinux audit messages. New issues can be captured and translated into a new policy:

grep nagios_t /var/log/audit/audit.log | audit2allow -l -v -m local_nagios > local_nagios.te_NEW

Merge the new results (in local_nagios.te_NEW) with your existing policy (in local_nagios.te). Compile and reload the module.

Lather, rinse, repeat ;-)


After some iterations, your local_nagios.te file will look something like this:

module local_nagios 1.0;

require {
    type nagios_t;
    type var_log_t;
    type var_lib_t;
    class dir { write create add_name remove_name };
    class file { create getattr ioctl lock open read rename unlink write };

#============= nagios_t ==============
allow nagios_t var_lib_t:dir { add_name create remove_name write };
allow nagios_t var_lib_t:file { create getattr ioctl lock open read rename unlink write };
allow nagios_t var_log_t:file { read rename unlink };

If all is well, the audit.log should not show any new messages for nagios_t:

clear;tail -f /var/log/audit/audit.log |grep nagios_t

Note: The new SElinux policy will survive reboots; it is automatically copied to /etc/selinux/targeted/modules/active/modules/local_nagios.pp.


Workaround for Nagios check_disk failure in RHEL / CentOS 6.2

After updating from EL 6.1 to 6.2, the Nagios “check_disk” plugin suddenly stopped working with “Permission denied” errors. This problem is related to the SElinux policy (you *are* running with SElinux enabled, aren’t you?).

By default, these AVC denials are not logged in /var/log/audit/audit.log which makes this problem harder to spot (if you want, you can enable all audit-messages by running semodule -DB).

There are at least two relevant entries in Bugzilla:

  • Bug 771245 – nagios-plugins-disk fails when checking /boot on RHEL6.2 boxes
  • Bug 768055 – SELinux silent denials of Nagios NRPE check of /boot

Fortunately, there is a simple workaround while we wait for an updated selinux-policy package. As root, do the following:

chcon -t nagios_unconfined_plugin_exec_t /usr/lib64/nagios/plugins/check_disk

Or, for 32-bit systems:

chcon -t nagios_unconfined_plugin_exec_t /usr/lib/nagios/plugins/check_disk

No need to restart anything; just wait until Nagios re-checks the service and the problem should be gone. Enjoy!