Flatcar Container Linux hardening guide
This guide covers the basics of securing a Flatcar Container Linux instance. Flatcar Container Linux has a very slim network profile and the only service that listens by default on Flatcar Container Linux is sshd on port 22 on all interfaces. There are also some defaults for local users and services that should be considered.
Remote listening services
To disable sshd from listening you can stop the socket:
systemctl mask sshd.socket --now
If you wish to make further customizations see our customize sshd guide .
Remote non-listening services
etcd and Locksmith
etcd and Locksmith should be secured and authenticated using TLS if you are using these services. Please see the relevant guides for details.
Flatcar Container Linux has a single default user account called “core”. Generally this user is the one that gets ssh keys added to it via a Butane Config for administrators to login. The core user, by default, has access to the wheel group which grants sudo access. The group can’t be easily changed and thus the solution to restrict access is to either require a password for sudo but not setting one, or disable login for the
A sudo drop-in can be created under
/etc/sudoers.d/core-passwd with the contents
core ALL=(ALL) ALL and as long as the core user has no password set it can’t use
sudo. Here is a Butane snippet:
variant: flatcar version: 1.0.0 storage: files: - path: /etc/sudoers.d/core-passwd mode: 0644 contents: inline: | core ALL=(ALL) ALL
You can disable the
core user by setting the login shell to
/sbin/nologin, here a Butane snippet:
variant: flatcar version: 1.0.0 passwd: users: - name: core shell: /sbin/nologin
The docker daemon is accessible via a unix domain socket at
/run/docker.sock. Users in the “docker” group have access to this service and access to the docker socket grants similar capabilities to sudo. The core user, by default, has access to the docker group. The group can’t be easily changed and thus the solution to restrict access is to disable login for the
core user or restrict the Docker socket permissions.
You can restrict the Docker socket to root by creating a unit drop-in for
/etc/systemd/system/docker.socket.d/10-restrict.conf, here a Butane snippet:
variant: flatcar version: 1.0.0 systemd: units: - name: docker.socket dropins: - name: 10-restrict.conf contents: | [Socket] SocketGroup=root
Disabling Simultaneous Multi-Threading
Recent Intel CPU vulnerabilities cannot be fully mitigated in software without disabling Simultaneous Multi-Threading. This can have a substantial performance impact and is only necessary for certain workloads, so for compatibility reasons, SMT is enabled by default.
The SMT on Container Linux guide provides guidance and instructions for disabling SMT.
If you don’t expect to ever use USB, you can disable the kernel module, here a Butane snippet:
variant: flatcar version: 1.0.0 storage: files: - path: /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf mode: 0644 contents: inline: | blacklist usb-storage
SELinux is a fine-grained access control mechanism integrated into Flatcar Container Linux. Each container runs in its own independent SELinux context, increasing isolation between containers and providing another layer of protection should a container be compromised.
Flatcar Container Linux implements SELinux, but currently does not enforce SELinux protections by default. The SELinux on Flatcar Container Linux guide covers the process of checking containers for SELinux policy compatibility and switching SELinux into enforcing mode.