Minimising dhcpcanon privileges

Reasons why a DHCP client needs to run with root privileges:

  • open sockets in privilege ports (68)

  • open RAW sockets: to receive packets without having an IP set yet

  • to set the IP offered


    dhcpcanon does not need privileges to set up the IP, as that is done by a separated script, as dhclient does.

Possible solutions to minimise privileges and their associated problems:

  1. drop privileges after BOUND DHCP state (sockets binded):
  • problem: if the client stays connected until the renewing/rebinding time, privileges would be needed again and dropping privileges temporally it is not recommended [].

  • possible solutions: do not implement RENEWING/REBINDING states.

    • problem: this would not be compliant with RFC 2131 nor 7844.

    • pro: in “usual” networks, if the client stays enough time connected to the network, the lease would expire it could just restart in the INIT state.


      which would be the associated problems to this solution?

  1. wrapper with privileges to set linux network capabilities to the client, open sockets, then call the client inheriting the sockets:
  • problem: same as 1.


it’s not possible to set net capabilities directly to a python script, they would need to be set to the python binary, but that would give the capabilities to any python script. Python binary could also be copied, set the capabilies, and that script call the client, but would have the same problem as giving the capabilities to the original python binary

  1. dhcpcanon could call a binary with privileges to create the sockets every time it needs to do so. It’s needed to change several parts of the current implementation.

  2. to have the process be granted just the capabilities it needs, by the system-level process manager.

    This is already implemented with systemd

  3. wrapper that does the same as in 4. without a system-level process manager. See section “wrapper to inherit capabilities”

    It could be solved with infinity0’s wrapper <> running:

    RUST_BACKTRACE=1 ./target/debug/ambient -c NET_RAW,NET_ADMIN,NET_BIND_SERVICE /usr/bin/python3 -m dhcpcanon.dhcpcanon -v
  4. wrapper with privileges to disable linux Remote Path (RP) filter, open sockets, then call the client:

  • problems:
    • it still needs root to change the default RP settings
    • it would only allow that the DHCP offers are received from other interfaces [], but still RAW sockets are needed to receive packets in the same interface that does not have an IP address yet
    • same as 1.

Wrapper to inherit capabilities

With capsh, dhcpcanon could be launched as another user and inherit only the required capabilities, in a similar way as systemd.service does:

capsh --caps=cap_net_raw,cap_net_bind_service,cap_net_admin+epi --keep=1 -- -c "mkdir -p /run/dhcpcanon && cd /run/dhcpcanon && su -c 'exec /sbin/dhcpcanon enp0s25' -s /bin/sh dhcpcanon"

-s is needed cause dhcpcanon shell is /bin/false

However this does not have capabilities to create the socket.

To show the capabilities that are actually inherited:

capsh --keep=1 --secbits=0x1C --caps=cap_net_raw,cap_net_bind_service,cap_net_admin+epi  -- -c "mkdir -p /run/dhcpcanon && cd /run/dhcpcanon && su -c '/sbin/capsh --print' -s /bin/sh dhcpcanon"

In man capsh --securebits is not documented, securebits.h has some documentation, but it seems to be needed a newer version of libcap as commented in this post