I want to prevent the root user from logging in directly from local console on a RHEL box, but allow login from ssh. Can this be done?
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Disabling local root login is bad idea. The access may be necessary in system crash situations. According to NSA RHEL 5 security guide, 22.214.171.124 Restrict Root Logins to System Console:
Disabling root login from local console can be done by removing lines tty1 tty2 tty3 tty4 tty5 tty6 tty7 tty8 tty9 tty10 tty11 from /etc/securetty.