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Is it possible to disable direct login for normal users (like oracle) in linux but allow scp and sftp for that use?

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Methods such as creating the file /etc/nologin, setting account login shells to /bin/false or /sbin/nologin effectively disable user accounts from logging into an interactive shell, but do not protect the system.

If you want to specifically restrict a user to using scp or sftp only, install a restricted shell that is designed to do exactly that. The rssh package is a restricted shell designed to work with OpenSSH.

: rssh is a restricted shell for use with OpenSSH, allowing only scp
: and/or sftp. For example, if you have a server which you only want
: to allow users to copy files off of via scp, without providing shell
: access, you can use rssh to do that. It is a alternative to scponly.

You should seriously consider setting a chroot for the users logging in with the restricted rssh shell.

Read and understand the security implications of restricting users in such a way. Start with the man pages for rssh and rssh.conf. You should also understand what a chroot is and how it works.

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The login shell can be changed from bash to /usr/sbin/nologin or /bin/false do prevent a normal login. The login shell can be changed with usermod:

usermod user_name -s /usr/sbin/nologin
  • Some sftp clients aren't using proper sftp, but rather trying to log on and execute basic commands like cd, ls, ... . In that case use scp or another sftp client program. – jippie May 5 '12 at 6:35

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