If a server crashes when no one is around (after a power failure, for example), all the secret keys that are stored on the system are deleted. Now no process can access secure network services or mount an NFS file system. The important processes during a reboot are usually run as root. Therefore, these processes would work if root's secret key were stored away, but nobody is available to type the password that decrypts it. keylogin -r allows root to store the clear secret key in /etc/.rootkey, which keyserv reads.
Diskless computer booting is not totally secure. Somebody could impersonate the boot server and boot a devious kernel that, for example, makes a record of your secret key on a remote computer. The Secure NFS system provides protection only after the kernel and the key server are running. Otherwise, no way exists to authenticate the replies that are given by the boot server. This limitation could be a serious problem, but the limitation requires a sophisticated attack, using kernel source code. Also, the crime would leave evidence. If you polled the network for boot servers, you would discover the devious boot server's location.
Most setuid programs are owned by root. If the secret key for root is stored in /etc/.rootkey, these programs behave as they always have. If a setuid program is owned by a user, however, the setuid program might not always work. For example, suppose that a setuid program is owned by dave and dave has not logged into the computer since it booted. The program would not be able to access secure network services.
If you log in to a remote computer (using login, rlogin, or telnet) and use keylogin to gain access, you give access to your account. The reason is that your secret key is passed to that computer's key server, which then stores your secret key. This process is only a concern if you do not trust the remote computer. If you have doubts, however, do not log in to a remote computer if the remote computer requires a password. Instead, use the NFS environment to mount file systems that are shared by the remote computer. As an alternative, you can use keylogout to delete the secret key from the key server.
If a home directory is shared with the -o sec=dh option, remote logins can be a problem. If the /etc/hosts.equiv or ~/.rhosts files are not set to prompt for a password, the login succeeds. However, the users cannot access their home directories because no authentication has occurred locally. If the user is prompted for a password, the user has access to his or her home directory if the password matches the network password.