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Samba HowTo Guide
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Important Notes About Security

The UNIX and SMB password encryption techniques seem similar on the surface. This similarity is, however, only skin deep. The UNIX scheme typically sends clear-text passwords over the network when logging in. This is bad. The SMB encryption scheme never sends the clear-text password over the network, but it does store the 16-byte hashed values on disk. This is also bad. Why? Because the 16 byte hashed values are a “password equivalent.” You cannot derive the user's password from them, but they could potentially be used in a modified client to gain access to a server. This would require considerable technical knowledge on behalf of the attacker but is perfectly possible. You should therefore treat the data stored in whatever passdb backend you use (smbpasswd file, LDAP) as though it contained the clear-text passwords of all your users. Its contents must be kept secret, and the file should be protected accordingly.

Ideally, we would like a password scheme that involves neither plaintext passwords on the network nor plaintext passwords on disk. Unfortunately, this is not available because Samba is stuck with having to be compatible with other SMB systems (Windows NT, Windows for Workgroups, Windows 9x/Me).

Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 3 changed the default setting so plaintext passwords are disabled from being sent over the wire. This mandates either the use of encrypted password support or editing the Windows NT registry to re-enable plaintext passwords.

The following versions of Microsoft Windows do not support full domain security protocols, although they may log onto a domain environment:

  • MS DOS Network client 3.0 with the basic network redirector installed.

  • Windows 95 with the network redirector update installed.

  • Windows 98 [Second Edition].

  • Windows Me.

Samba HowTo Guide
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