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I am running a VM on a spare laptop we have in the office, and have set it up for SSH access from my workstation. Currently I am using user/password authentication, but I would like to remove the password with the NOPASSWD flag to make it easier to run sudo commands and for my coworkers to use it. My office network doesn't allow SSH access from outside the local network. Is this a bad idea?

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    Not that this is what you were directly suggesting, but the notion that a local network can be inherently trusted is quickly becoming defunct. SSH keys make sense if you wish to remove password access otherwise my personal position is to consider all environments as hostile – waymobetta Aug 3 '18 at 0:47
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In general any authentication with empty password is a bad idea.

My office network doesn't allow SSH access from outside the local network.

SSH is not the only way an attacker might gain access to the internal network. A password means enhanced security and security means that when a system fails it fails gracefully or at least as gracefully as possible. If the VM is not designed to be a honeypot then in any other case a password is necessary.

I would like to remove the password with the NOPASSWD flag to make it easier to run sudo commands and for my coworkers to use it.

Then consider using ssh-keys for authentication, it's considered more secure way to login and you don't have to type the password every time.

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TLDR - It could be a bad idea if you think you have something that you don't want others to see / modify / delete.

Long Answer: -

Depends on the risk. Let's assess it through a QnA session.

  1. What do you do with the VM? a. Why do other people need access to it? b. Does it contain any data that others need? c. What type of data is that? d. Is it ok if un-identified people change / see / delete it?

  2. Is the VM / or the host machine connected to internet? a. If the answer to the above question is 'Yes', is it possible to connect back to your workstation from the VM? How do you connect? Is the password blank in this case as well?

  3. Do you have a habit of using blank passwords elsewhere on the network?

Answer to these questions will help you understand the risks to your data because of this weak control. If there is very little risk, go ahead and do it.

We as a security people cry every time we see a weak / blank password because we know that this might set a precedent and people will start using blank passwords everywhere without context (what do you mean "blank passwords are bad!"? Don't show me that face! the security guy told us that it is alright in that case1. Now you can't be a hypocrite and tell me it can't be done in this case2. Rules must be same for every person / case!). This puts us in a bad light.

In reality, context is everything and the security controls should match the criticality and sensitivity of the data being protected. You won't protect useless data / machines with 2FA!

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