[tor-project] Make it harder to brute-force Trac user passwords

Jens Kubieziel maillist at kubieziel.de
Sun Aug 6 21:20:40 UTC 2017


recently I had a discussion with GeKo about brute-forcing trac accounts.
Someone reported that trac allows to test username/password combinations
without having an upper limit. This resulted in
https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/ticket/23120 and I set the
the maximum amount to 17 (chosen arbitrarily). When an account is locked
an admin has to unlock it. However I received some mails who raised the
point that people can now lock out legitimate users quite easily.
Thatswhy I want to discusss this here.

What happens when people sucessfully guess a password?
In general people can create an account or use the cypherpunks account
to gain more permissions. So it doesn't make sense to guess those
passwords. However it gets more interesting when someone guesses the
password of a member of the TRAC_ADMIN group. Then the attacker can read
our configuration and create some havoc. However with the current setup
it is hardly possible to change trac.ini. Even TRAC_ADMIN has not the
permissions to do so.

So we lived with this risk in the last years and simply relied on the
fact that people choose a secure (aka hard-to-guess) password. So we
just could return to this state.

If we choose to do something against password-guessing attacks, we could
choose the current solution. This means after n attempts (currently
n=17) the account gets locked and only a admin can unlock it. This has
the risk that attackers can lock out legitimate users.

The trac cookbook list some other possibilities
to configure the account locking. In general it can be configured to
release the lock after some amount of time. However each visit to trac
happens at Unix epoch by configuration, so the plugin would never
release the lock. If we want to configure automatic unlocking, we would
have to change our webserver settings (as far as I see it).

How should we set up trac regarding brute-forcing? Are there other
possibilities I missed? I'd love to hear your feedback on this.

Jens Kubieziel                                   http://www.kubieziel.de
Wenn der Mensch so viel Vernunft hätte wie Verstand, wäre alles viel
einfacher. Dr. Linus Carl Pauling
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