Security Concern: Does Splunk Need A Shell

Path Finder

I was wondering if it is really necessary for the Splunk account to have a shell (/bin/bash)? I have set up a couple of test instances with the the splunk account set to nologin (/sbin/nologin) and have not noticed any impact. It is generally a best practice to not give a shell unless it is really needed and it would also be really nice to easily exclude this as a non-interactive account to our auditors. Does anyone know of a specific reason that a shell is required? I do not have any external scripts running on my test machines and that is the only reason I could think of for having a shell.

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Actually the command enable boot-start -user splunk requires a valid shell for the splunk user (the splunk process attempts to run su).
A workaround is to run enable boot-start and then to add to the file $SPLUNK_HOME/etc/splunk-launch.conf (splunk forwarder 6.1.1)


note: this may prevent some functions from the forwarder requiring su or a valid shell (I don't know splunk enough to judge), run at your own risk.

See also:

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Splunk Employee
Splunk Employee

Generally it is the case that Splunk does not need a shell or terminal, that's right.


Yes I confirm, as of today on a CentOS 6 server we tested to modify the shell for splunk user from /bin/bash to /sbin/nologin

On this server it is running the Splunk Universal Forwarder.

After having modified the /etc/passwd file and restarted the Splunk Universal Forwarder it is still working, as well as the scripts directly launched by it.

#to modify the shell
usermod -s /sbin/nologin splunk

#to restart the Universal Forwarder
/etc/init.d/splunk restart


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