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A Quick Overview

AppArmor is Mandatory Access Control (MAC) like security system for Linux. AppArmor confines individual programs to a set of files, capabilities, network access and rlimits, collectively known as the AppArmor policy for the program, or simply as a profile. New or modified policy can be applied to the running system without a reboot. AppArmor aims to be easy to understand and use for most common requirements by presenting its profiles in an administrator friendly language.

AppArmor is selective in its confinement such that some programs on the system may be confined, while others not. Selective confinement allows an administrator the flexibility to turn off a problematic profile for troubleshooting while leaving other parts of the system confined.

Unconfined programs are run under standard Linux Discretionary Access Control (DAC) security. AppArmor augments traditional DAC in that confined programs are evaluated under traditional DAC first and if DAC allows the behavior then AppArmor policy consulted.

AppArmor supports per-profile learning (complain) mode to help users write and maintain policy. Learning mode allows for a profile to be created by running a program normally and learning its behavior. After AppArmor has sufficiently learned the behavior, the profile may be turned to enforcing mode. While the resulting profile may be more lenient than a hand-crafted profile tailored for a specific environment and application, learning mode can greatly reduce the effort and knowledge needed to use AppArmor and add an important layer of security.

Versions of AppArmor

There are two main versions of AppArmor the 2.x series (current) and the 3.x series (development). The 2.x series has seen incremental improvements over its life with only incremental breaks in semantic compatibility. The 3.x series is a significant expansion of AppArmor. Both of the main series use the same basic policy language, with only minor semantic differences. The 3.x series allows for a much expanded policy and fine-grained control.