Security Process

This is a proposed security vulnerability reporting and handling process for Open vSwitch. It is based on the OpenStack vulnerability management process described at

The OVS security team coordinates vulnerability management using the ovs-security mailing list. Membership in the security team and subscription to its mailing list consists of a small number of trustworthy people, as determined by rough consensus of the Open vSwitch committers on the ovs-committers mailing list. The Open vSwitch security team should include Open vSwitch committers, to ensure prompt and accurate vulnerability assessments and patch review.

We encourage everyone involved in the security process to GPG-sign their emails. We additionally encourage GPG-encrypting one-on-one conversations as part of the security process.

What is a vulnerability?

All vulnerabilities are bugs, but not every bug is a vulnerability. Vulnerabilities compromise one or more of:

* Confidentiality (personal or corporate confidential data).
* Integrity (trustworthiness and correctness).
* Availability (uptime and service).

Here are some examples of vulnerabilities to which one would expect to apply this process:

* A crafted packet that causes a kernel or userspace crash

* A flow translation bug that misforwards traffic in a way likely
  to hop over security boundaries (Integrity).

* An OpenFlow protocol bug that allows a controller to read
  arbitrary files from the file system (Confidentiality).

* Misuse of the OpenSSL library that allows bypassing certificate
  checks (Integrity).

* A bug (memory corruption, overflow, ...) that allows one to
  modify the behaviour of OVS through external configuration
  interfaces such as OVSDB (Integrity).

* Privileged information is exposed to unprivileged users

If in doubt, please do use the vulnerability management process. At worst, the response will be to report the bug through the usual channels.

Step 1: Reception

To report an Open vSwitch vulnerability, send an email to the ovs-security mailing list (see "Contact" at the end of this document). A security team member should reply to the reporter acknowledging that the report has been received.

Please consider reporting the information mentioned in, where relevant.

Reporters may ask for a GPG key while initiating contact with the security team to deliver more sensitive reports.

The Linux kernel has its own vulnerability management process: Handling of vulnerabilities that affect both the Open vSwitch tree and the upstream Linux kernel should be reported through both processes. Please send your report as a single email to both the kernel and OVS security teams to allow those teams to most easily coordinate among themselves.

Step 2: Assessment

The security team should discuss the vulnerability. The reporter should be included in the discussion (via "CC") to an appropriate degree.

The assessment should determine which Open vSwitch versions are affected (e.g. every version, only the latest release, only unreleased versions), the privilege required to take advantage of the vulnerability (e.g. any network user, any local L2 network user, any local system user, connected OpenFlow controllers), the severity of the vulnerability, and how the vulnerability may be mitigated (e.g. by disabling a feature).

The treatment of the vulnerability could end here if the team determines that it is not a realistic vulnerability.

Step 3a: Document

The security team develops a security advisory document. The document credits the reporter and describes the vulnerability, including all of the relevant information from the assessment in step 2. The security team may, at its discretion, include the reporter (via "CC") in developing the security advisory document, but in any case should accept feedback from the reporter before finalizing the document.

When the document is final, the security team should obtain a CVE for the vulnerability from a CNA (

Step 3b: Fix

Steps 3a and 3b may proceed in parallel.

The security team develops and obtains (private) reviews for patches that fix the vulnerability. If necessary, the security team pulls in additional developers, who must agree to maintain confidentiality.

Step 4: Embargoed Disclosure

The security advisory and patches are sent to downstream stakeholders, with an embargo date and time set from the time sent. Downstream stakeholders are expected not to deploy or disclose patches until the embargo is passed.

A disclosure date is negotiated by the security team working with the bug submitter as well as vendors. However, the Open vSwitch security team holds the final say when setting a disclosure date. The timeframe for disclosure is from immediate (esp. if it's already publicly known) to a few weeks. As a basic default policy, we expect report date to disclosure date to be 3~5 business days.

Operating system vendors are obvious downstream stakeholders. It may not be necessary to be too choosy about who to include: any major Open vSwitch user who is interested and can be considered trustworthy enough could be included. To become a downstream stakeholder, email the ovs-security mailing list.

If the vulnerability is already public, skip this step.

Step 5: Public Disclosure

When the embargo expires, push the (reviewed) patches to appropriate branches, post the patches to the ovs-dev mailing list (noting that they have already been reviewed and applied), post the security advisory to appropriate mailing lists (ovs-announce, ovs-discuss), and post the security advisory on the Open vSwitch webpage.

When the patch is applied to LTS (long-term support) branches, a new version should be released.

The security advisory should be GPG-signed by a security team member with a key that is in a public web of trust.


Report security vulnerabilities to the ovs-security mailing list:

Report problems with this document to the ovs-bugs mailing list:

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