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Security issues, tooling, innovations and education within OpenStack are the responsibility of the Security project. The Security project is a horizontal effort within OpenStack that is comprised of what was previously referred to as the OpenStack Security Group and the Vulnerability Management Team. The Security project undertakes both technical and governance activities within OpenStack, aiming to provide guidance, information and code that enhances the overall security of the OpenStack ecosystem.

A diagram showing the pillars of the Security project

Organization and Contribution

The security group is built up primarily of two groups of people; those who write OpenStack code and those who try to secure OpenStack code! We have contributors from over 30 different companies involved in OpenStack. If you're interested in helping to make OpenStack more secure, either through writing better code, writing documentation or inventing cool new features and tooling - we want to hear from you!


The Security project was recently incorporated into OpenStack under the big-tent model for collaboration. That means we're recognised by the OpenStack foundation and we govern ourselves in the same way that every other official project does. We have a Project Technical Lead (PTL), Cores and Regular members just like other projects do. The PTL is elected every six months, we meet up at each OpenStack Summit and hold our own mid-cycle meet-ups too. More regularly we meet on IRC each week to discuss progress on multiple activities. We use the [Security] tag on the standard [developer mailing list] when things warrant wider discussion.


The security group has an IRC room (#openstack-security) on irc.freenode.net that's used for general communications, chat and the occasional user query. The security project meets weekly to discuss progress on individual activities. We encourage new contributors to say hello during our weekly meetings.


The process of becoming a member of the group is described on the OSSG Launchpad page. At the moment of writing, there is no defined "procedure" to get involved into the OSSG and a suggested set of steps follows. Each described steps might or not be relevant depending on the individual member's background and familiarity with the OpenStack project.

Some steps to get started are:

  • Read the OpenStack documentation and understand the most common deployment scenarios.
  • Go through the OpenStack installation guide and create a deployment (either a native one or in a virtualized environment), in order to get a basic understanding of the interaction of the different OpenStack services. Some installation scripts such as Devstack and Packstack are readily available. However, you should not underestimate the educational benefits of spending some quality time to install OpenStack manually.
  • Read the newly released OpenStack security guide in order to dive into the security aspects of setting up and running an OpenStack deployment.
  • Getting acquainted to some degree with the rest of the OpenStack manuals is highly encouraged.
  • The next step is to choose one of the OpenStack components in order to become closely familiarized with it and eventually be able to use the combined expertise of the OSSG in order to make thoughtful contributions to the component (code reviews, direct code contribution, architectural aspects) and improve its security. It is of course important to chose a component that would closely match your interests; given the size of OpenStack, becoming closely familiar with the chosen component's code base, deployment and administration practices might require significant time investments. Once you have chosen a component, send an email on the OSSG email list to let others know about your intentions.

See https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/Security/How_To_Contribute for more details on how you can improve OpenStack security.

Software Activities

The OpenStack Security Project has a number of ongoing activities that aim to enhance security of the OpenStack cloud ecosystem. These predominantly break down into three groups; Advisory, Guidance and Software.

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.

Bandit - Python 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.

Advisory Activities

The Security project issues Security Advisories (OSSA) and Security Notes (OSSN) both are targeted at OpenStack Users and Vendors who either run or package OpenStack for use by downstream consumers.

Security Advisories - OSSA


Within the Security project exists the Vulnerability Management Team. The VMT is a small group of experienced developers who receive, triage and release fixes for vulnerabilities in OpenStack. The final stage of fixing a vulnerability is to release a Security Advisory for the community. The OSSA details the nature of the vulnerability and any workaround or patches required to mitigate it.

Security Notes - OSSN

Security Notes are designed to complement the Security Advisories issued by the Vulnerability Management Team. Security notes can be issued for almost anything affecting the security of potential OpenStack deployments. In many cases a vulnerability may be reported that cannot be fixed immediately because the fix might break the API or otherwise cause service-breaking issues for downstream consumers. Often the Security project will write notes that will guide deployers in how to best mitigate the issues when an OSSA cannot be provided. OSSNs are also issued for significant vulnerabilities in third party applications that would affect OpenStack deployments.

Guidance Activities

Most of the documentation we produce, be it the security guide or security advisories are focussed on downstream consumers of OpenStack technology. We are also actively working on guidance and tooling for *developers* in the hope that we can help stop vulnerabilities making it into code in the first place.

See the Developer Guideline section of https://security.openstack.org for more info

Security Guide


This book was written by a close community of security experts from the OpenStack Security Project in a short, 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 back to the OpenStack community.

See http://docs.openstack.org/sec/

Security Blog

We now have a blog, take a look to see the latest of what has been happening in the OpenStack Security world: https://openstack-security.github.io/

Vulnerability Management Team

The OpenStack Vulnerability Management team is the first point of contact for OpenStack security issues. They are responsible for the vulnerability handling and disclosure process.

See http://wiki.openstack.org/VulnerabilityManagement