OpenStack Security

Security is a fundamental goal of the OpenStack architecture and needs to be addressed at all layers of the stack. Like any complex, evolving system security has to be vigilantly pursued, and exposures eliminated. We need your help.

If you think you’ve identified a vulnerability, please work with us to rectify and disclose the issue responsibly.

How to Report Security Issues to OpenStack

We provide two ways to report issues to the OpenStack Vulnerability Management Team depending on how sensitive the issue is:

How to Propose and Review a Security Patch


The patch development and review process for security patches is different from normal patches in OpenStack. Because the gerrit review process is public, all security bugs must have patches proposed to and reviewed in the Launchpad bug report comments.

After a patch for the reported bug has been developed locally, you the patch author need to share that with the community. This is a simple process, but it is different than the normal OpenStack workflow.

  • Export it using the format-patch command:

    git format-patch --stdout HEAD~1 >path/to/local/file.patch

    Now you have the patch saved locally and you can attach it in a comment on the Launchpad bug page.

  • For reviewers, to review that attached patch, run the following command:

    git am <~path/to/local/file.patch

    This applies the patch locally as a commit, including the commit message, author, date, and all other metadata. However, if the patch author did not use format-patch to export the patch (perhaps they only used git show >local.patch), then the patch can be applied locally with:

    git apply path/to/local/file.patch

OpenStack Security Team

The OpenStack security team runs an number of initiatives aimed at improving the overall security of OpenStack projects and ensuring that security incidents are handled in a coordinated fashion. Key initiatives that fall within the security team’s areas of responsibility are outlined below.

Vulnerability Management

An autonomous subgroup of vulnerability management specialists with in the security team make up the OpenStack vulnerability management team (VMT). Their job is facilitating the reporting of vulnerabilities, coordinating security fixes and handling progressive disclosure of the vulnerability information. Specifically, they are responsible for the following functions:

  • Vulnerability Management: All vulnerabilities discovered by community members (or users) can be reported to the Team.
  • Vulnerability Tracking: The Team will curate a set of vulnerability related issues in the issue tracker. Some of these issues will be private to the Team and the affected product leads, but once remediated, all vulnerabilities will be public.
  • Responsible Disclosure: As part of our commitment to work with the security community, the Team will ensure that proper credit is given to security researchers who responsibly report issues in OpenStack.

See Vulnerability Management Process for details on our open process.

OpenStack Security Notes

Security Notes advise users of security related issues. Security notes are similar to advisories; they often address vulnerabilities in 3rd party tools typically used within OpenStack deployments and provide guidance on common configuration mistakes that can result in an insecure operating environment.

A list of security notes is available online, but are also published on the OpenStack mailing list as they are released.

Security tool development

The security team are constantly looking at ways to introduce tooling and automation to improve the overall security of OpenStack projects. Some of these projects are outlined below.

Bandit - A security linter

Bandit is a security linter for Python source code, utilizing the ast module from the Python standard library. The ast module is used to convert source code into a parsed tree of Python syntax nodes. Bandit allows users to define custom tests that are performed against those nodes. At the completion of testing, a report is generated that lists security issues identified within the target source code.

Bandit is currently a stand-alone tool which can be downloaded by end-users and run against arbitrary source code. Although early in development it is already adding value to the OpenStack code base with several projects leveraging it in their CI gate tests. As the project matures the desire is to see widespread adoption of Bandit in the OpenStack community.

Bandit can be obtained by cloning the repository. The README.rst file contains documentation regarding installation, usage, and configuration.

Anchor - Ephemeral PKI

Anchor is a lightweight, open source, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), which uses automated provisioning of short-term certificates to enable cryptographic trust in OpenStack services. Certificates are typically valid for 12-24 hours and are issued based on the result from a policy enforcing decision engine. Short term certificates enable passive revocation, to bypass the issues with the traditional revocation mechanisms used in most PKI deployments.

OpenStack Security Guide

The OpenStack Security Guide provides best practices learned by cloud operators while hardening their OpenStack deployments. This book was written by a close community of security experts from the OpenStack Security Group in an intense week-long effort at an undisclosed location. One of the goals for this book is to bring together interested members to capture their collective knowledge and give it to the OpenStack community.

Read the guide online today.