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Computer security is a chronic and growing problem, even for Linux, as evidenced by the seemingly endless stream of software security vulnerabilities. Security research has produced numerous access control mechanisms that help improve system security; however, there is little consensus on the best solution. Many powerful security systems have been implemented as research prototypes or highly specialized products, leaving systems operators with a difficult challenge: how to utilize these advanced features, without having to throw away their existing systems?

The Linux Security Modules (LSM) project addresses this problem by providing the Linux kernel with a general purpose framework for access control. LSM enables loading enhanced security policies as kernel modules. By providing Linux with a standard API for policy enforcement modules, the LSM project hopes to enable widespread deployment of security hardened systems. This paper presents the design and implementation of the LSM framework, a discussion of performance and security impact on the kernel, and a brief overview of existing security modules.

James Morris