Security review

The goal of security review in the OpenStack community is to identify weaknesses in design or implementation of OpenStack projects. While rare, these weaknesses could potentially have catastrophic effects on the security of an OpenStack deployment, and therefore work should be undertaken to minimize the likelihood of these defects in released projects. The OpenStack Security Project asserts that once a security review of a project has been completed, the following are known and documented:

  • All entry points into a system

  • What assets are at risk

  • Where data is persisted

  • How data travels between components of the system

  • Data formats and transformations

  • External dependencies of the project

  • An agreed set of findings and/or defects

  • How the project interacts with external dependencies

A common reason to perform a security review on an OpenStack project is to enable that project to achieve the vulnerability:managed governance tag. The OpenStack Vulnerability Management Team (VMT) applies the vulnerability:managed tag to projects where the report reception and disclosure of vulnerabilities is managed by the VMT. One of the requirements for gaining the tag is that some form of security review, audit or threat analysis has been performed on the project.

The OpenStack Security Project (OSSP) has worked with the VMT to agree that an architectural review of the best practice deployment for a project is an appropriate form of security review, balancing the need for review with the resource requirements for a project of the scale of OpenStack. Security architecture review is also often referred to as threat analysis, security analysis or threat modeling. In the context of OpenStack security review, these terms are synonymous for an architectural security review which may identify defects in the design of a project or reference architecture, and may lead to further investigative work to verify parts of the implementation.

There are two routes that an OpenStack project may take to complete a security review:

  1. Review by OpenStack Security Project

  2. Review by a third party review body, with validation from the OpenStack Security Project

Security review by the OSSP is expected to be the normal route for new projects and for cases where third parties have not performed security reviews or are unable to share their results. Information for projects that require a security review by the OSSP will be available in the upcoming security review process.

In cases where a security review has already been performed by a third party, or where a project prefers to use a third party to perform their review, information on how to take the output of that third party review and submit it to the OSSP for validation will be available in the upcoming third party security review process.

In either case, the requirements for documentation artefacts are similar - the project must provide an architecture diagram for a best practise deployment. Vulnerability scans and static analysis scans are not sufficient evidence for a third party review, although they are strongly recommended as part of the development cycle for all teams.