*** Update ***

The ESXi 5 STIG for ESXi Server and vCenter Server is now at version 1 revision 3.  The only difference between revision 2 and 3 is the removal of some IAVM findings incorrectly included in the previous release.  The certificate requirements have still been pulled and the below information valid for revision 3.

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Ok, so yesterday DISA released the ESXi 5 Version 1 Revision 2 of the STIG.  Now this is only Revision 2 of the ESXi 5 Server and vCenter Server STIG, not the VM.  That is still at revision 1.

Why did they do it?  Just one thing, the removal of  the rule The system must not use default self-signed certificates for <ESXi / vCenter> Communication.  So, if you want to follow the STIG, you no longer have to replace the default certificates provided, or you could replace them with an internal CA.

Why did they do this?  Well, there’s a reason, but not one I’m going to put here on a public blog.  If you’d like to know why just ask your SE.  I will have either already informed them, or they can reach out to me for the information internally.

HZW 1.5-1220937 Password Expired Error

HZW 1.5-1220937 Password Expired Error

Got this? Yep, that’s what I thought. If you’re working with the GA release of Horizon Workspace 1.5 (Build 1220937) dated July 30th, 2013 and you are performing a new installation (after September 8th 2013) you will be greeted with the screen above.  In this article I’ll walk you through how to fix this issue on existing Horizon Workspace 1.5 (Build 1220937) installations, and cover something you need to know in product that the KB does not tell you.  At least it doesn’t yet.

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Note: This article covers material present in Version 1 Revision 3 and below.  Topics found below may be mitigated in the most current version of the ESXi 5 STIG.  Ensure you are using the most current version of the DISA STIG documents.

So we need to talk about GEN005537-ESXI-000111 – SSH Daemon Must Use Privilege Separation for a moment.  There’s a lot of confusion around this finding so let us sort through it together.

First off let’s draw a line in this discussion, nothing can be done about this on ESXi 5.0.  The setting just will not work.  The reason?  We did not compile chroot into ESXi 5.0.  However, in 5.1 and 5.5 it is absolutely configurable, with a little finesse and TLC.  Let’s take a look.

Note: The following instructions are not supported by VMware, nor were they tested in any way, shape or form by QA, so I cannot guarantee how they will react in your environment.  Please implement this on an isolated or single host first to make sure there are no unintended consequences.  To date I have not seen any reports of the below settings, if applied correctly, causing issue.

In addition to this article you are going to need to review Blog Series: ESXi 5 STIG – File and Setting Persistence.  This is necessary because we need to create the default chroot location for the privilege separation user.
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For years now as VMware has traveled down the path of the Virtual Appliance.  It’s nothing new, but the approach has changed thanks to a few very key people within the company.

The Virtual Appliance of the past typically almost never saw an OS patch, rarely was hardened, and quite frankly scared Federal Admins and IA groups for those reasons.  Truth be told, they all wanted to use them, but getting it approved was just too much of a hurdle.  That is quickly changing, and some of it has already and you didn’t even know it.

With 5.5 on the horizon you’re going to see a new breed of Virtual Appliance for products such as vCenter Server and vCenter Orchestrator that are all based upon a common OS, common set of services, and a common set of hardening.  No more one-offs, everything is going to a standard.  What does that mean for you?  A great deal from both the administrative and security point of view.

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Note: This article covers material present in Version 1 Revision 3 and below.  Topics found below may be mitigated in the most current version of the ESXi 5 STIG.  Ensure you are using the most current version of the DISA STIG documents.

The total ESXi 5 Server portion of the STIG is 142 setting in total.  So far we’ve covered SSH Client, SSH Daemon, and Password Complexity separately.  This article will cover the rest.  A majority of these are either administrative in nature, or simply cause no issue what so ever.  I will list these by STIG ID at the end of this article, just to round things out.  However, there are a few tricks left up their collective sleeves to cover.  Let’s get started.

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Note: This article covers material present in Version 1 Revision 3 and below.  Topics found below may be mitigated in the most current version of the ESXi 5 STIG.  Ensure you are using the most current version of the DISA STIG documents.

Here we will review the password complexity requirements in the ESXi 5 Server STIG.  These are somewhat problematic, and scattered.  I’ll combine things here so it’s a little easier to implement.

Note: Be very aware of what you are doing here.  You can easily introduce a restriction that will puzzle you later.  I'll cover more below, but make sure your admins are aware of this change.

So, let’s get to it. First a list of the STIG IDs we will be covering here.  I’ll be doing this in a couple different groups, pointing out the issues as we go.

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Note: This article covers material present in Version 1 Revision 3 and below.  Topics found below may be mitigated in the most current version of the ESXi 5 STIG.  Ensure you are using the most current version of the DISA STIG documents.

Here we go, SSH Client findings.  There are eleven (11) total findings in this section, all involving the SSH Client configuration as laid out in the ESXi 5 STIG.  You will learn that at the time of this article ESXi 5 and above does not contain the configuration file necessary to make these settings persist.  However, you can use the File and Setting Persistence article to build the configuration file necessary at each boot.  This “work around” will become unnecessary in future versions of our product.

Note: Building the ssh_config file per the above article is currently not officially supported. However, it is the easiest way to accomplish the settings below.
Note:All settings within the sshd_config file are case sensitive.  Options are typically all lower case {yes|no} and are all expressed as <settings> <option> within the configuration file.  The easiest way to verify an issue during your configuration is to have a second console open and run 'tail -f /var/log/auth.log' while attempting a connection.

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Note: This article covers material present in Version 1 Revision 3 and below.  Topics found below may be mitigated in the most current version of the ESXi 5 STIG.  Ensure you are using the most current version of the DISA STIG documents.

Before we move into Part 2 of the ESXi 5 STIG documentation we need to talk about file persistence and how to deal with it.

Note: This is UNSUPPORTED!  Also, changes made to the rc.local and/or local.sh file may not persist after an update or upgrade.  Take good configuration notes of your systems and verify once an update or upgrade is applied.

Those of you that have been using ESXi for a while now realize that files do not persist across reboots unless they are tagged by VisorFS as persistent.  While this may be inconvenient at times the reasons behind it are valid.

So, along the lines of the ESXi 5 STIG, we have a few things that we need to set and persist across reboots.  Findings that have us modify existing files on ESXi are fine.  We can modify those and they will persist, typically.  Always test with a reboot to ensure your settings stick.  What about the findings where the configuration file doesn’t exist?  The SSH Client (ssh_config) settings are a prime example of this.  ESXi 5+ does not currently have a ssh_config file present in /etc/ssh, so any attempt to create and populate one with settings will be lost on reboot.  That’s a problem for you SAs out there needing to comply with the STIG.

How do I create configuration files and make them persist you ask?  Smoke and mirrors my friend.  Persist by way of recreation at boot.  You could do this with a custom package file too, but that violates another STIG setting, so lets stick with this method for now.

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