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There is a proprietary document about system hardening/security standard stating that group users, nogroup, other, and some other groups should not contain any user except system administrators. I've found an explanation about nogroup group here. What about the users and other groups? What are they for? Why regular (non-administrator) users should not be member of these groups?

  • Which distro is this? – muru Nov 29 '16 at 7:31
  • @muru RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) – fikr4n Nov 29 '16 at 7:34
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One might easily think that users is meant to be assigned to every non-daemon user, but that's not the case. Remember that groups are a mean to control permissions...if that were to be the case wouldn't belonging to users be meaningles? Imagine trying to make use of that group: to keep a file that belongs to group users private, you would need to assign it the same permission bits to the "group" as you would to "others", as every user would be part of that group. Redundant and useless, if not plain annoying.

In reality, the users group exists just to be assigned to users which don't need to belong in any other group, as far as permissions are concerned. It basically exists just because every user must be at least part of a primary group (which you can find in /etc/passwd)...think of users like a "fallback", if no group is assigned to an user. (the useradd utility actually uses it as a fallback, if no group is given and homonym groups are disabled)

For this very same reason, you will find that the users group does not usually get any particular permission on the filesystem: no administrator will ever create a file which is owned by the users group, (if he wanted to allow any user to manipulate a file, he would instead use chmod o+rwx). So, it doesn't matter if you belong to that group or not, it will not give you any special permissions...that's why, unless you have no other group you're being assigned to, there's absolutely no need to assign an user to it (its insignificance, permission-wise, is very similar to that of nogroup).

As for the other group, i don't see it neither in my fresh CentOS 7 installation nor in my Ubuntu 14, so i'm guessing the document you read refers to the other portion of the Discrectionary Access Control bits (the last octal digit you can edit with chmod), or a group created and used by some application...so, asking for the reason for its existence is like asking why the group "www-data", created by nginx, exists: it just depends on what the application that created the group wants to do with it.

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    So, what are they for? I mean, why non-admin users should not be in these groups? – fikr4n Nov 29 '16 at 22:37
  • Answer updated. – Mario Vitale Nov 30 '16 at 1:32
  • So, actually there is no security impact? – fikr4n Nov 30 '16 at 10:06
  • As the answer says, group "users" has no security relevance at all. Groups like "adm", "admin" or "wheel" (in CentOS) are the ones that set apart administrators from normal users. – Mario Vitale Nov 30 '16 at 10:48
  • The person who wrote the hardening document might be drunk :D – fikr4n Dec 1 '16 at 15:07

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