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SubjectTOMOYO Linux Security Goal
This document is intended to specify the security goal that TOMOYO Linux is
trying to achieve, so that users can evaluate whether TOMOYO Linux will meet
their needs, and kernel developers can evaluate whether TOMOYO Linux deserved
to be in-tree.

1. About TOMOYO Linux

Project Homepage:
Project Wiki:

TOMOYO Linux is a DIY tool for understanding and protecting your system.
TOMOYO Linux policy definitions are absolutely readable to Linux users, and
TOMOYO Linux supports unique policy learning mechanism which automatically
gathers information and arranges the results as policy definitions.
These things made it possible for users to write policy from scratch.
Troubleshooting can be done by users.
We put some TOMOYO Linux policy examples on our web site.

2. TOMOYO Linux Security Goal

The TOMOYO Linux's security goal is to provide "MAC that covers practical
requirements for most users and keeps usable for most administrators".
TOMOYO Linux is not a tool for security professional but for average users
and administrators.

3. Our Approach

To meet the above goal, TOMOYO Linux attempts to make the system where
everything is prearranged in an easy-to-understand way.

* Make the all subject's all access requests that will occur at least once
during the lifetime of the kernel known in advance.

* Let the administrator understand what access requests will each subject
raise in his/her system and write policy which only allows expected and
desirable access requests for his/her needs.

Unlike AppArmor, TOMOYO Linux is intended to protect the whole system from
attackers exploiting vulnerabilities in applications that the system hosts.
The threat is that an attacker can cause a vulnerable application to do
something unexpected and undesirable. TOMOYO Linux addresses this threat by
recording all applications' behaviors in the test environment and forcing
all applications behave within recorded behaviors in the production environment.

TOMOYO Linux has a unique concept of "process invocation history"
(in short, PIH). The PIH is a developmental lineage of a process.
When a process executes a program, the process creates a copy with fork() and
replace the copy with execve().
TOMOYO Linux appends the pathname of the executed program to the PIH of
the replaced process, and associates process's PIH (stored in task_struct)
with a domain.
As a result, the context switching (a.k.a. domain transition) is unidirectional.
This rule allows administrator distinguish and manage fine-grained context.
Domain transition forms tree structure like a directory tree of filesystems.
Each domain has different set of permissions that are essential for that domain.

4. Things you can do with TOMOYO Linux.

Create policy from scratch.

You want to use ready-made policy files supplied by somebody else
because testing all paths needed for your usage sounds boring?

OK, then you can choose other implementations that provide
ready-made policy files, but you should check whether these files
contain enough permissions for your usage or not. It is inevitable thing
to test all paths needed for your usage if you want to use white listing
access control.

Also, ready-made policy files tend to contain redundant permissions
for your usage which often leads to serious problem.

TOMOYO Linux is a DIY tool for understanding and protecting your Linux box.
TOMOYO Linux's "learning mode" will automatically generate
policy files with necessary and sufficient permissions for you.

Understand all possible requests.

TOMOYO Linux reports what is happening within your Linux box.
You can have the security of knowing that no unexpected requests arise,
if you have tested all paths needed for your usage.

Please remember, we are not saying that
"You can have the security of knowing that no unexpected results happen".
Although TOMOYO Linux attempts to filter the request as hard as possible,
TOMOYO Linux can't guarantee the result.

Analyze system's behavior.

TOMOYO Linux resembles to /usr/bin/strace .
TOMOYO Linux reports what programs are executed from each program and
what files/networks are accessed by each program.

You can use TOMOYO Linux for analyzing application's behavior
if you want to know "which configuration file does this daemon read?",
"what port numbers does this daemon require?" and so on.

This helps debugging program's behaviors and writing manuals.
TOMOYO Linux is also applicable for educational use.

Provide per application firewall.

It is userland applications' businesses to perform pathname based access
control, but they sometimes make mistakes which are known as OS command
injection vulnerability or buffer overflow vulnerability.
TOMOYO Linux assists this access control in kernel space to reduce
the damage by restricting pathnames which each application can request.

TOMOYO Linux can perform TCP_Wrapper-like simple stateless
TCP/IP packet filtering based on IPv4/v6 address and ports.

TOMOYO Linux can restrict the list of environment variable's name
passed to execve() so that some dangerous environment variable
(e.g. LD_PRELOAD) won't be passed freely.

TOMOYO Linux also supports conditional permissions.
You can use uid/gid etc. of a process to restrict the combination of
user and accessible resources.

Provide support for multi-call binary applications without patches.

A multi-call binary (e.g. /sbin/busybox) changes behaviors according to
the invocation name (in other words, argv[0] passed to execve()).
Users specify the invocation name using symbolic links or hard links.

TOMOYO Linux allows administrators to give execute permission and define PIH
using the pathname of a symbolic link, if the combination of
the pathname of a symbolic link and the pathname of the entity pointed
by the symbolic link is registered in the policy file.
You can use symbolic links as if they are hard links.

TOMOYO Linux supports restricting the combination of
path-to-executable-or-symbolic-link and basename-of-argv[0]
so that users can't pass different argv[0]
from path-to-executable-or-symbolic-link freely.

Please be aware that some multi-call binary programs change their behaviors
according to the command line parameters (i.e. argv[1] to argv[argc - 1]).
Regarding such programs, TOMOYO Linux can't restrict behaviors by restricting
the argv[0]. But TOMOYO Linux doesn't attempt to restrict all argv[] elements
passed to execve(), because doing so will make the system too inconvenient
and frustrating to use.

Give different set of permissions to the same application.

There are some non-executable applications (e.g. Java's class files).
Such applications use the same program for executing (e.g. Java Runtime
Environment). Since TOMOYO Linux has PIH, you can give different set of
permissions for each application by separating PIH for each application.

Although TOMOYO Linux can switch context for every execve() requests,
it is preferable to be able to switch context without invoking execve().
So far, we are not providing APIs to switch context like AppArmor's
change_hat()/change_profile(). We'd like to introduce APIs to switch context
when distributors get ready to support TOMOYO Linux (in other words, after
TOMOYO Linux is merged into mainline).

Provide DMZ for remote logins.

Recently, password brute-force attacks against SSH service are increasing.
But TOMOYO Linux's PIH can provide a room for deploying DMZ.

Why password or public-key authentication is possible for only once?
Why not give normal users a chance to beat back attackers who logged in
through brute-force attacks?

You can deploy extra login authentications that the only normal user knows
how to pass.

Provide simple RBAC-like administrative task division.

TOMOYO Linux's PIH forms a tree structure.
This means that you can split one tree into several subtrees
and associate each subtree with each administrative task.
You can give each subtree necessary and sufficient permissions
for each administrative task.

You can deploy custom authentication at the entry point of each subtree
so that one administrator cannot proceed to other administrator's subtrees.

And more...

Your imagination invents new usage.

Tetsuo Handa <>
Toshiharu Harada <>
Kentaro Takeda <>

Appendix 1 - Usability features of TOMOYO Linux

TOMOYO Linux switches the context of a process whenever a process executes
a program, but there are two exceptions.
Administrator may relocate domain of a process if PIH is not meaningful for
that process (e.g. daemon programs). This exception allows administrator
restart daemon programs.
Administrator may suppress domain transition if domain transition is not
meaningful for that process (e.g. /bin/touch called from /etc/init.d/ scripts).
This exception reduces memory usage for policy.

TOMOYO Linux can apply access control over all userspace applications,
but administrator can also apply access control over only specific userspace
applications if he/she wishes so.

TOMOYO Linux supports "delayed enforcing mode" that allows administrator
interactively judge whether a request which is not defined in the policy
should be permitted or rejected.
This mode helps administrator adjust the policy after software updates.

Appendix 2 - Presentation slides

- PacSec2007: TOMOYO Linux: "A Practical Method to Understand and Protect
Your Own Linux Box"

- OLS2007: "TOMOYO Linux BoF"

- ELC2007: "TOMOYO Linux - A Lightweight and Manageable Security System
for PC and Embedded Linux"

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