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Nova Network configuration allows guest VMs to connect to host services


When using Nova Network to manage networking for compute instances, instances are able to reach network services running on the host system. This may be a security issue for the operator.

Affected Services / Software

Nova, Folsom, Grizzly, Havana, Icehouse


OpenStack deployments using Nova Network, rather than Neutron for network configuration will cause the host running the instances to be reachable on the virtual network. Specifically, booted instances can check the address of their gateway and try to connect to it. Any host service which listens on the interfaces created by OpenStack and does not apply any additional filtering will receive such traffic.

This is a security issue for deployments where the OpenStack service users are not trusted parties, or should not be allowed to access underlying services of the host system.

Using a specific example of devstack in default configuration, the instance spawned inside of it will see the following routing table:

   $ ip r s
   default via dev eth0 dev eth0  src

The instance can then use the gateway's address ( to connect to the sshd service on the host system (if one is running and listening on all interfaces). The host system will see the connection coming from interface `br100`.

Recommended Actions

Connections like this can be stopped at various levels (libvirt filters, specific host's iptables entries, ebtables, network service configuration). The recommended way to protect against the incoming connections is to stop the critical services from binding to the Nova-controlled interfaces.

Using the sshd service as an example, the default configuration on most systems is to bind to all interfaces and all local addresses ("ListenAddress :22" in sshd_config). In order to configure it only on a specific interface, use "ListenAddress a.b.c.d:22" where a.b.c.d is the address assigned to the chosen interface. Similar settings can be found for most other services.

The list of services listening on all interfaces can be obtained by running command 'netstat -ltu', where the '*:port' in the "Local Address" field means the service will likely accept connections from the local Nova instances.

If filtering of the traffic is chosen instead, care must be taken to allow traffic coming from the running instances to services controlled by Nova - DHCP and DNS providers.

Contacts / References