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SELinux Documentation

Integrating Flexible Support for Security Policies into the Linux Operating System

Peter Loscocco, National Security Agency
Stephen Smalley, NAI Labs


The protection mechanisms of current mainstream operating systems are inadequate to support confidentiality and integrity requirements for end systems. Mandatory access control (MAC) is needed to address such requirements, but the limitations of traditional MAC have inhibited its adoption into mainstream operating systems. NSA worked with Secure Computing Corporation (SCC) to develop a flexible MAC architecture called Flask to overcome the limitations of traditional MAC. NSA has implemented this architecture in the Linux operating system, producing a Security-enhanced Linux (SELinux) prototype, to make the technology available to a wider community and to enable further research into secure operating systems. NAI Labs has developed an example security policy configuration to demonstrate the benefits of the architecture and to provide a foundation for others to use. This paper describes the security architecture, security mechanisms, application programming interface, security policy configuration, and performance of SELinux.

The paper appears in the Proceedings of the FREENIX Track: 2001 USENIX Annual Technical Conference (FREENIX '01), June 2001 and is also available here in:

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Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds
NAI is a trademark of Networks Associates Technology, Inc.
Secure Computing is a registered trademark of Secure Computing Corporation


Date Posted: Jan 15, 2009 | Last Modified: Jan 15, 2009 | Last Reviewed: Jan 15, 2009