The Perils of Sudo With User Passwords

Filed under
Security

The consensus among new Unix and Linux users seems to be that sudo is more secure than using the root account, because it requires you type your password to perform potentially harmful actions. In reality, a compromised user account, which is no big deal normally, is instantly root in most setups. This sudo thinking is flawed, but sudo is actually useful for what’s it was designed for.

The (wrong) idea is that you shouldn’t use the root account, because apparently it’s too “dangerous.” This argument usually comes from new Linux users and people that call themselves “network administrators,” but has no basis in reality. We’ll come back to that in a moment.

The concept behind sudo is to give non-root users access to perform specific tasks without giving away the root password. It can also be used to log activity, if desired.

Why is there a separate root account anyway?