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Hardened Backup Repository for Veeam

  14 minute read.

Last Modified 2022-01-02 15:41 +0100

Abstract

This guide explains in details how to create a Hardened Backup Repository for VeeamBackup with TrueNAS Scale that means a repository that will survive to any remote attack.

The main idea of this guide is the disabling of the webUI with an inititialisation script and a cron job to prevent remote deletion of the ZFS snapshots that guarantee data immutability.

The key points are:

  • Rely on ZFS snapshots to guarantee data immutability
  • Reduce the surface of attack to the minimum
  • When the setup is finished, disable all remote management interfaces
  • Remote deletion of snapshots is impossible even if all the credentials are stolen.
  • The only way to delete the snapshot is having physically access to the TrueNAS Server Console.
This article targets specifically TrueNAS Scale and Veeam Backup, but it may also apply to some extent to TrueNAS Core and/or other backup software.

Installation

Install TrueNAS Scale 22.02 on a physical machine.

  • If possible the computer should have at least 2 network interfaces:
    • one dedicated network interface for the management
    • the other one for the data sharing
A virtualized TrueNAS server is not suitable for a hardened backup repository because a malware can easily take the control of TrueNAS server and destroy its data after compromising the hypervisor.

Create a ZFS pool

Go to Storage | Create Pool

  • Name: tank1
    Even if you can use any pool name, the guide is easier to follow if you use tank1 as pool name.
  • Click on SUGGEST LAYOUT to let TrueNAS guessing the best layout for you. In most situations, it will just work very well.
  • Review the proposed layout, then click on CREATE

    For a backup repository, the following layouts will provide a good balance between IOPS, available space and level of redundancy:

    • 2 to 4 disks: Stripe of mirrors
    • 6 disks: RaidZ2
    • 8 to 11 disks: RaidZ3
    • 12 disks and more: Stripe of Raidz2/Raidz3

Configure SMART Tests

SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) is a monitoring system included in hard disk drives to anticipate imminent hardware failures.

Go to Data Protection | S.M.A.R.T Test | Add

  • All Disks
  • Type: LONG
  • Description: Long SMART test
  • Schedule: Monthly (0 0 1 * *) on the first day of the month at 00:00 (12:00 AM)
  • SAVE

Configure the network

For a hardened repository, it is better to use a fixed IP address than a DHCP configuration, because a compromised DHCP server can provide malicious DNS settings.

Global Network Configuration

Go to Network | Global Configuration

  • Hostname and Domain
    • Configure Hostname and Domain
  • Service Annoucement
    • NetBIOS-NS
    • mDNS
    • WS-Discovery
For a hardened repository it is preferable to disable any service annoucement
  • DNS Servers
    • Nameserver 1: 1.1.1.1
    • Nameserver 2: 8.8.8.8

      For a hardened server, it is preferable to use the IP addresses of very well known and secure public DNS than your own internal DNS server.

      • Cloudflare: 1.1.1.1
      • Google: 8.8.8.8
  • Default Gateway
    • Setup IPv4 (or IPv6) Default Gateway according to your network
  • Outbound Network
    • (o) Allow Specific
      • Enable Mail and Update
  • Other Settings
    • HTTP Proxy: stay empty
      Connecting to Internet through a proxy is a good security practice because it prevents malwares to communicate easily with their control and command servers, but it is out of the scope of this guide.
  • SAVE

Network Interfaces Configuration

Go to Network | Interfaces

  • Click on the first interface and configure it as the management interface
    • Management interface

      • Description: management
      • DHCP
      • Autoconfigure IPv6
      • Other Settings
        • Disable Hardware Offloading
        • MTU: 1500
          For a hardened repository, it is preferable to keep the default value (1500) for the MTU, because using jumbo frame makes the network configuration more complex to manage.
        • IP Addresses
          • Add the IP address of the management interface
      • APPLY
      • TEST CHANGES
        When you are testing the new network settings, you have 60 seconds to confirm that it works by clicking on SAVE CHANGES, otherwise the system automatically rolls back to the previous network configuration to avoid kicking you out of the network.
    • Data interface

      • Management interface
        • Description: data sharing
        • DHCP
        • Autoconfigure IPv6
        • Other Settings
          • Disable Hardware Offloading
          • MTU: 1500
          • IP Addresses
            • Add the IP address of the data sharing interface
      • APPLY
      • TEST CHANGES
      • SAVE CHANGES

Configure the user accounts

Setup root account

Go to Credentials | Local Users

  • Edit the root user
    • Fill the Email field
      System notification are sent by email to the root user, so this email address is very important.
    • If you wish to use SSH for management, fill also SSH Public Key
SSH is more convenient than the web shell interface to enter commands that are missing from the web user interface.

Create a account for Veeam

Go to Credentials | Local Groups | Add

  • GID: 10000
  • Name: veeam
  • Permit Sudo
  • Samba Authentication
  • Allow Duplicated GIDs
  • SAVE

Go to Credentials | Local Users | Add

  • Full Name: Veeam Backup
  • Username: veeam
  • Password: use a very long and strong password
  • Password confirmation:
  • Email: stay empty
  • User ID and Groups
    • User ID: 10000
    • New Primary Group
    • Primary Group: veeam
    • Auxiliary group: stay empty
  • Directories and Permissions
    • Home Directory: /nonexistent
    • Home Directory Permission: clear all permissions, except user permissions
    • SSH Public Key: stay empty
    • Disable password: no
    • Shell: nologin
    • Lock User
    • Permit Sudo
    • Microsoft Account
    • Samba Authentication
  • SAVE

Configure SSH

Go to System Settings | Services | SSH and click on the pencil ()

  • Click ADVANCED SETTINGS

    • TCP Port: 22
    • Log in As Root with Password
    • Allow Password Authentication
    • Allow Kerberos Authentication
    • Allow TCP Port Forwarding
    • Bind Interfaces: use the management network interface
    • Compress Connections
    • SFTP Log Level: stay blank
    • SFTP Log Facility: stay blank
    • Weak Ciphers: None, AES128-CBC
    • Auxiliary Parameters: AllowUsers root@192.168.0.10
      • where 192.168.0.10 is the IP address of your desktop computer you use to manage the TrueNAS server.
  • SAVE

  • Toggle the running button to start the SSH service but do not start automatically SSH

Do not start automatically SSH because we will disable the SSH service later to harden the repository.

Configure the mail notification

Configuring the mail notification is very important, because it will be the only way to know that happens (for example if a disk is dying) after disabling the web management interface to harden the repository.

Edit mail notification

  • Click on the bell icon on the top right corner
  • Click on the gear icon
  • Select Email
  • Fill the web form according to your email provider
  • Send Test Mail
  • Check that you receive the testing email
  • SAVE

Create a dataset for Veeam

Go to System Settings | Shell (or connect with SSH)

zfs create tank1/veeam
zfs set org.freenas:description="veeam hardened repo" tank1/veeam
zfs set compression=off tank1/veeam
chown veeam:veeam /mnt/tank1/veeam
chmod 700 /mnt/tank1/veeam

Description of shell commands

  1. Create a dataset name tank1/veeam
  2. Set dataset description (“veeam hardened repo”)
  3. Set compression level to off because Veeam backup are already compressed
  4. Set ownership of user veeam and group veeam on directory /mnt/tank1/veeam
  5. Set restrictive user permissions on /mnt/tank1/veeam

If you really following this guide from scratch, then the dataset tank1/veeam is empty, then you can create an empty snapshot and lock it to prevent deleting by mistake the dataset from the web user interface or with the command zfs destroy

zfs snap tank1/veeam@LOCKED
zfs hold LOCKED tank1/veeam@LOCKED

Description of shell commands

  1. Create a snapshot named LOCKED on tank1/veeam.
  2. Hold a lock named LOCKED on the snapshot. Indeed The name of the snapshot and the name of the lock can be different, but it is easier to use twice the same name.

More information about ZFS locked snapshot

  • To lock a snapshot use zfs hold LOCK_NAME SNAPSHOT_NAME
  • Snapshot can have multiple locks, each lock must have a different name
  • A locked snapshot cannot be deleted
  • To unlock a snapshot, use zfs release LOCK_NAME SNAPSHOT_NAME
  • To list the lock names of a particular snapshot, use zfs holds SNAPSHOT_NAME
  • A dataset with a locked snapshot cannot be deleted neither with the webui nor with the zfs destroy command, so it avoid human errors.

Configure ZFS periodic snapshots

Create 3 periodic (hourly, daily and weekly) ZFS snapshots to recover the data if they are deleted or modified.

Hourly snapshots

Go to Data Protection | Periodic Snapshot Tasks

  • Dataset tank1
  • Exclude: stay empty
  • Recursive
  • Snapshot lifetime: 1 day
  • Naming Schema: auto-%Y%m%d_%H%M-hourly
  • Schedule: Hourly (0 * * * * ) at the start of each hour
  • Begin: 00:00:00
  • End: 23:59:00
  • Allow Taking Empty Snapshots
  • Enabled
  • SAVE
It is easier to setup the periodic snapshot at the root dataset and to enable recursive snapshot.

Daily snapshots

Go to Data Protection | Periodic Snapshot Tasks

  • Dataset tank1
  • Exclude: stay empty
  • Recursive
  • Snapshot lifetime: 1 week
  • Naming Schema: auto-%Y%m%d_%H%M-daily
  • Schedule: Daily (0 0 * * * ) at 00:00 (12:00 AM)
  • Allow Taking Empty Snapshots
  • Enabled
  • SAVE

Weekly snapshots

Go to Data Protection | Periodic Snapshot Tasks

  • Dataset tank1
  • Exclude: stay empty
  • Recursive
  • Snapshot lifetime: 1 month
  • Naming Schema: auto-%Y%m%d_%H%M-weekly
  • Schedule: Weekly (0 0 * * sun ) on Sundays at 00:00 (12:00 AM)
  • Allow Taking Empty Snapshots
  • Enabled
  • SAVE
If you have enough disk space, you can use longer retention time. The longer the snapshot are kept, the better your safety is.

Configure Samba Service

Go to System Settings | Services | SMB and click on the pencil ()

  • Click ADVANCED SETTINGS
    • NetBIOS Name: strongbox (you can use any name here)
    • NetBIOS Alias: stay empty
    • Workgroup: WORKGROUP
    • Description: Hardened TrueNAS
    • Enable SMB1 support
    • NTLMv1 Auth
    • UNIX Charset: UTF-8
    • Log Level: Minimum
    • Use Syslog Only
    • Local Master
    • Enable Apple SMB2/3 Protocol Extensions
    • Administrators Group: stay empty
    • Guest Account: nobody
    • File Mask: 0600
    • Directory Mask: 0700
    • Bind IP Address: bind on the IP address of the data network interface
    • Auxiliary Parameters: stay empty
    • SAVE
  • Toggle the running button to start the SMB service
  • Start Automatically SMB

Configure Samba share for Veeam

Go to Shares | Windows (SMB) Shares | ADD

  • Click on *ADVANCED OPTIONS
    • Basic
      • Path: /mnt/tank1/veeam
      • Name: veeam
      • Purpose: Multi-protocol (NFSv3/SMB) shares
      • Description: hardened veeam repository
      • Enabled
    • Access
      • Enable ACL
      • Export Read Only
      • Browseable to Network client
      • Allow guest access
      • Allow based shared enumeration
      • Host Allow: put the IP of the Veeam Software server here
      • Host Deny: stay empty
    • Other Options
      • Use as home share
      • Timemachine
      • Legacy AFP compatibility
      • Enable shadow copy
      • Export Recycle bin
      • Use Apple-Style Character Encoding
      • Enable alternate data streams
      • Enable SMB2/3 Durable handles
      • Enable FSRVP
      • Path suffix: stay empty, very important
      • Auxiliary parameters: stay empty
    • SAVE

Add this repository to Veeam Software

See the documentation of Veeam Backup to add this SAMBA share as a backup target.

In the Veeam wizard select

  • Network attached storage
  • SMB Share
  • For the credentials, use the veeam account creates on the hardened backup resporitory (see above)

Hardened the repository

To hardened the backup repository, just remove any possibility to remotely destroy the ZFS snapshots.

Enable password for console access

Go to System Settings | Advanced | Console | Configure

  • Show Text Conosle wihout Password Prompt
  • SAVE

Disconnect IPMI

If your server has a IPMI interface, physically disconnect the network cable.

  • If a malware takes the control of your management computer, it can use the IPMI interface to destroy your backups.
  • Be cautious and just disconnect the cable.

Check that NTP works as expected

  • Go to System Settings | General | NTP Servers

By default TrueNAS Scale comes with the following NTP servers

  • 0.debian.pool.ntp.org
  • 1.debian.pool.ntp.org
  • 2.debian.pool.ntp.org

Open a shell

  • Go to System Settings | Shell
  • Enter the command ntpq -p
  • The output will look like
# ntpq -p
     remote           refid      st t when poll reach   delay   offset  jitter
==============================================================================
*ntppub.darksky. 172.18.1.20      2 u  326 1024  377   11.447   +0.475   0.531
+ip139.ip-5-196- 145.238.203.14   2 u  208 1024  377   11.484   -0.249   0.279
+ns2.euskill.com 193.107.56.120   4 u   33 1024  377   22.541   +0.167   0.538
Do not worry if you have different remote hostnames or IP addresses for NTP servers, it is normal because domain names of ntp.org point to a pool of servers.

Configure HTTPS

Create an Internal Certificat Authority

Go to Credentials | Certificates | Certificates Authorities | Add

  • Identifier and Type
    • Name: hardened-truenas-scale-ca
    • Type: Internal CA
    • Profiles: CA
  • Certificate Options
    • Key Type: RSA
    • Key Length: 4096
    • Digest Algorithm: SHA512
    • Lifetime: 3650
  • Certificate Subject
    • Country: United States
    • State: California
    • Locality: San Francisco
    • Organization: The Name of My Company
    • Organization Unit: Backup Department
    • Email: firstname.surname@the-name-of-my-company.com
    • Common Name: hardened-truenas-scale-ca
    • Subject Alternate Names: hardened-truenas-scale-ca
  • Extra Constraints
    • Basic Constraints
    • Authority Key Identifier
    • Extended Key Usage
    • Key Usage
  • Confirm Options
    • SAVE

Create a certificate for HTTPS

Go to Credentials | Certificates | Certificates | Add

  • Identifier and Type
    • Name: hardened-truenas-scale-cert
    • Type: Internal Certificate
    • Profiles: ——–
  • Certificate Options
    • Signing Certificate Authority: hardened-truenas-scale-ca
    • Key Type: RSA
    • Key Length: 4096
    • Digest Algorithm: SHA512
    • Lifetime: 3650 (10 years)
  • Certificate Subject
    • Country: United States
    • State: California
    • Locality: San Francisco
    • Organization: The Name of My Company
    • Organization Unit: Backup Department
    • Email: firstname.surname@the-name-of-my-company.com
    • Common Name: hardened.mydomainname.com (the full qualified domain name)
    • Subject Alternate Names: hardened.mydomainname.com (the full qualified domain name)
  • Extra Constraints
    • Basic Constraints
    • Authority Key Identifier
    • Extended Key Usage
    • Key Usage
  • Confirm Options
    • SAVE

Apply the new HTTPS certificate

Go to System Settings | General | GUI | Settings

  • GUI
    • GUI SSL Certificate : hardened-truenas-scale-cert
    • Web Interface IPv4 Address: select the management interface
    • Web Interface IPv6 Address: ::
    • Web Interface HTTP Port: 80
    • Web Interface HTTPS Port: 443
    • HTTPS Protocols: TLSv1.3
    • Web Interface HTTP -> HTTPS Redirect
  • Other Options
    • Crash reporting
    • Usage collection
    • Show Console Messages
  • SAVE

Restart Web Service: CONFIRM, CONTINUE

Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Two-Factor Authentication is time-based, and requires that the system time is set correctly, so check before that NTP works.
  • Install an application on your smartphone to generate an One-Time-Password from a QR-Code. For example FreeOTP Authenticator
  • Go to Credentials | 2FA
  • Keep the default
    • One-Time Password (OTP) Digits: 6
    • Interval: 30
    • Window: 0
    • Enable Two-Factor Auth for SSH
  • Click on Enable Two-Factor Authentication
  • SHOW QR
  • Use FreeOTP to capture the QR code
  • Log out the web interface
  • Test Two-Factor Authentication
  • If something goes wrong you can disable the 2FA from the console
midclt call auth.twofactor.update '{"enabled": false}'

Disable SSH for normal operations

Letting SSH service running is dangerous: if someone steals your SSH private key and passphrase, he can remotely connect to the backup repository and destroy the data.

Check SSH does not automatically start

Go to System Settings | Services

  • Check that SSH does not start automatically

Stop SSH service on boot

Add a startup script to stop the SSH service in case it has been enabled by mistake

Go to System Settings | Advanced | Init/Shutdown Scripts | Add

  • Description: Stop SSH at startup
  • Type: Command
  • Command: /usr/bin/systemctl stop ssh
  • When: Post Init
  • Enabled
  • Timeout: 10
  • SAVE

Stop SSH service at midnight

To avoid the SSH service stays enabled forever, stop it automatically at midnight

Go to System Settings | Advanded | Cron Job | Add

  • Description: stop ssh at midnight
  • Command: /usr/bin/systemctl stop ssh
  • Run as user: root
  • Schedule: *daily (0 0 * * ) at 00:00 (12:AM)
  • hide standard output
  • hide standard error
  • Enabled
  • SAVE

Disable Web User Interface for normal operations

Stop WebUI on boot

Go to System Settings | Advanced | Init/Shutdown Scripts | Add

  • Description: Stop webUI at startup
  • Type: Command
  • Command: /usr/bin/systemctl stop nginx
  • When: Post Init
  • Enabled
  • Timeout: 10
  • SAVE

Stop WebUI at midnight

To avoid the WebUI stays enabled forever, stop it automatically at midnight

Go to System Settings | Advanded | Cron Job | Add

  • Description: stop webUIh at midnight
  • Command: /usr/bin/systemctl stop nginx
  • Run as user: root
  • Schedule: *daily (0 0 * * ) at 00:00 (12:AM)
  • hide standard output
  • hide standard error
  • Enabled
  • SAVE

Change the message of the day

Go to System Settings | Advanced | Console | Configure

  • MOTD Banner: Hardened repository without remote management, to enable temporary the web interface type “systemctl start nginx”
  • SAVE

Backup the server configuration

Go to System Settings | General | Manage Configuration

  • DOWNLOAD FILE

Test the setup

Reboot the server to check that the web interface is disabled when the computer boots

Daily management

You can temporary enable the web interface to change the configuration

Enable the web interface

Connect to the console and type:

systemclt start nginx
If you forgot to stop the webUI when you have finished your work, the cron job will do if for you at midnight

Disable the web interface

To immediately disable the web interface connect to the console and type:

systemclt stop nginx

Recover data after an attack

If your Veeam backup files have been altered it means that the password to access the SAMBA share has been compromised, so you have to change it immediately.

Change the password for the veeam account

Go to Credentials | Local Users | veeam

  • Unroll the options, click EDIT
  • Change Password
  • SAVE

Lock the snapshot to preserve the data

It may take few day to audit your system after an attack, therefore it is a good idea to lock all snapshots to avoid they are automatically deleted when they reached their end of life.

Run the following command in the shell

for s in `zfs list -r -t snap -H -o name tank1/veeam`; do zfs hold LOCKED $s ; done

Clone the healthy snapshot

Go to Storage | Snapshots

  • Pick the healthy snapshot
  • Unroll the option
  • Click CLONE TO NEW DATASET
    • Name: tank1/veeam-snap-clone
    • SAVE

Create a new Samba Share to export the cloned dataset

  • Use the above instruction to share tank1/veeam-snap-clone with SAMBA.
  • Reinstall Veeam on a new server
  • Connect to the new SAMBA share
  • Restore your data.
  • The guide for a hardened repository is finished
  • Enjoy your hardened repository, and sleep more peacefully at night.