The problem: I have a script that runs periodically via a cron job as root, but I want to give people a way to kick it off asynchronously too, via a webpage. (The script will be written to ensure it doesn't run overlapping instances or such.)
I don't need the users to log in or have an account, they simply click a button and if the script is ready to be run it'll run. The users may select arguments for the script (heavily filtered as inputs) but for simplicity we'll say they just have the button to choose to press.
As a simple test, I've created a Python script in cgi-bin. chown-ing it to root:root and then applying "chmod ug+" to it didn't have the desired results: it still thinks it has the effective group of the web server account... from what I can tell this isn't allowed.
I read that wrapping it with a compiled cgi program would do the job, so I created a C wrapper that calls my script (its permissions restored to normal) and gave the executable the root permissions and setuid bit. That worked... the script ran as if root ran it.
My main question is, is this normal (the need for the binary wrapper to get the job done) and is this the secure way to do this? It's not world-facing but still, I'd like to learn best practices.
More broadly, I often wonder why a compiled binary is more "trusted" than a script in practice? I'd think you'd trust a file that was human-readable over a cryptic binaryy. If an attacker can edit a file then you're already in trouble, more so if it's one you can't easily examine. In short, I'd expect it to be the other way 'round on that basis. Your thoughts?