I've recently gotten a lot of flack from a couple of people for an innocent comment I made about logging into a machine as root.
I'd like to think of myself as pretty savvy when it comes to security, and as far as I'm concerned, the reasons for not logging in as root are:-

  • Password could theoretically be sniffed
  • Unsecure connection could theoretically be hijacked
  • You don't get an audit trail like you would with su or sudo
  • Password could be brute forced
  • You could easily run a command unintentionally which causes damage to your system

Ok, so we have the reasons not to - and they're good reasons. This is why, generally, I don't login to my boxes as root. However, the box in concern mitigates the above in the following ways

  • We only ever connect via SSH
  • Access to root is only allowable through SSH keys
  • Due to the nature of the server (local file storage) we don't need an audit trail
  • Password login is only ever allowed from a secure TTY (aka the box itself)
  • The only reason we ever need to login to this machine is to perform maintenance which requires root access

Is there any good reason that I shouldn't be logging in as root in the above circumstances?