AppArmor Core Policy Reference

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(DRAFT) WARNING: this document is in a very early stage of creation it is not in any shape yet to be used as a reference manual



This document the core of AppArmor policy, including both documentation of the reference profile language*, its semantics, and guidelines and semantics for AppArmor policy enforcement in general. It does not cover the standardized layout of policy, nor the compiled binary representation of the policy that is loaded into the kernel, the kernel interfaces, the tools or any other components built around the core enforcement engine.

AppArmor policy is written in a declarative language in which the order of rules with in a given section or block, does not matter. Policy is by convention written so that it is contained in multiple files but this is not a requirement, it could just as easily be written in a single file. The policy language is compiled to a architecture independent binary format that is loaded into the kernel for enforcement.

The base unit of AppArmor confinement is the profile, it contains a set rules which are enforced when the profile is associated with a running program. The rules within the profile provide a white list of different permission that are allowed, along with a few other special rules.

The text in AppArmor policy is split into two sections the preamble and the profile definitions. The preamble must occur at the head of the file and once profile definitions begin, no more preamble rules are allowed (even in files that are included into the profile). When AppArmor policy (set of profiles) is split across multiple files each file can have its own preamble section, which may be the same or different from other files preamble. File included with in a profile section can not have a preamble section.

Other languages could be constructed and compiled to the binary representation used by the AppArmor enforcement engine, but the project currently only supports the language documented below.

Versions of the Policy language

The policy language has seen multiple minor revisions and extensions. The v2.x versions of the language are all minor extensions and improvements the v3.x version of the language makes several extensions in both syntax and semantics.

The largest difference between the v2 and v3 formats is to do with semantic changes. The v2 format implicitly grants permissions for several new rule types that are explicitly required in the v3 format.

   In the v2 format capability sys_admin, is all that is required to mediate mount
   In the v3 format capability sys_admin, and mount rules are required for mediation of mount

The v2 format can be compiled to a v3 format compatible binary by implicitly including generic rules that cover the new mediation types. The v3 format can be forced to compile into a v2 compatible binary by excluding mediation types that are not supported in older releases.

Documentation of language syntax

Through this document the syntax of the profile language is described through words, examples, and a modified Naur form. Generally the Backus Naur form for a particular part of the language will appear at the begin of the section followed by expanded explanation and examples. The complete language syntax reference is at the end of the document.

The modified Backus naur form uses the following syntax (which is similar to pcre regular expressions).

 <name> - denotes a subpattern (rule).  That is matched against.
 <name> := begins the definite of a subpattern (rule).
  - single quotes are used to denote literal text
 ( ) group rules and text together
 [ ] - square bracket denote the eclosed pattern is optional, that is can appear 0 or 1 time
 * - a trailing * on a pattern indicate the pattern may appear 0 or more times
 + - a trailing + on a pattern indicate the pattern may appear 1 or more times
 | - is used to separate alternate subpatterns within an expression

Pattern matching

The AppArmor language supports pattern matching that is used at various points in the language.

AppArmor globbing syntax

AppArmor uses a file globbing syntax similar to that used by the bash shell. Globbing is not standard full regular expression syntax instead it uses a few characters known as wild cards. The AppArmor wildcards have slightly different semantics than that of bash.

  • * - match zero or more characters at the directory level. When looking at the path as a string this will match every character except /
    • This will match dot files (file names starting with .), excepting the special dot files . and .., if it is placed immediately after the directory /
      eg. /dir/*
    • This will not ever match an empty directory string eg. /dir//
    • pcre equivalent is ([^/\000]*)
  • ** - match 0 or more characters over multiple directory levels.
    • This will match dot files (file names starting with .), excepting the special dot files . and .., if it is placed immediately after the directory /
      eg. /dir/**
    • pcre equivalent is ([^\000]*)
  • ? - match a single character that is not /
    • pcre equivalent is [^/]
  • {} - alternation - a comma separated list of alternate strings that can be matched. An empty string is allowed and means no string is a viable alternative
    • pcre equivalent is (|)
  • [] - character class
    • same as pcre syntax
  • [^] - inverted character class
    • same as pcre syntax
  • {*^} - a proposed glob similar to * with an alternation style list of things it is not allowed to match.
    eg. /etc/{*^shadow} is the same as allowing everything /etc/* matches except /etc/shadow
    eg. /etc/{*^shadow,passwd} is the same as /etc/* - /etc/{shadow,passwd}
    eg. /etc/{*^*shadow} is the same as /etc/* - /etc/*shadow
    • note that an empty alternation entry is not allowed ie. {*^shadow,}
  • {**^} - a proposed glob similar to ** with an alternation style list of things is is not allowed to match eg. /etc/{**^shadow} is the same as /etc/** matches - /etc/shadow
    eg. /etc/{**^shadow,passwd} is the same as /etc/** - /etc/{shadow,passwd}
    eg. /etc/{**^*shadow} is the same as /etc/** - /etc/*shadow
    • note that an empty alternation entry is not allowed ie. {**^shadow,}


  • Nesting expressions in alternations - first allowed in apparmor 2.3
  • special characters can be matched against by escaping them with the \ character. eg. \*
    • the escape character \ is matched by escaping it. eg. \\
  • characters can be expressed as a number using the escape character \ followed by the characters numner.
    • octal number representation \001
    • hexidecimal number representation \x5f

Examples using globbing to match files

/dir/file - match a specific file
/dir/*    - match any files in a directory (including dot files)
/dir/a*   - match any file in a directory starting with a
/dir/*.png - match any file in a directory ending with .png
/dir/[^.]* - match any file in a directory except dot files

/dir/ - match a directory /dir/*/ - match any directory within /dir/ /dir/a*/ - match any directory within /dir/ starting with a /dir/*a/ - match any directory within /dir/ ending with a

/dir/** - match any file or directory in /dir/ or any directory below /dir/ /dir/**/ - match any directory in /dir/ or any directory below /dir/ /dir/**[^/] - match any file in /dir/ or any directory below /dir/

AppArmor pcre syntax (currently not supported)

TODO: cleanup use same syntax style in globbing and pcre and examples

Sometime AppArmor globbing is insufficient for expressing the desired match, in these cases access to a subset of pcre regular expression syntax is available.

  • '(' <expr> ')' - group expr to be treated as a single expr
  • <expr> '*' - match expr 0 or more times
  • <expr> '+' - match expr 1 or more times
  • <expr> '?' - match expr 0 or 1 time
  • [] - character class
  • <expr> '|' <expr> - alternation. Match <expr> or <expr>
  • '^' <expr> - anchor the expression to the beginning of the string
  • <expr> '$' - anchor the expression to the tail of the string.
    • same as pcre syntax
  • [^] - inverted character class
    • same as pcre syntax

In AppArmor when pcre pattern matching is used the expressions are always anchored. That is that the pattern must start with ^ and end with $. If an expression is not anchored it will not be treated as pcre based pattern.


Preamble section

The preamble consists of a set of rules that globally affect the profiles that are defined in the following profile section of the file. In general the rules that appear in the preamble can not appear in the profile.

Rules allowed within the preamble section

  • variable definitions
  • alias and rewrite rules
  • conditional rules
  • comments
  • include - as long as they don't include rules restricted to the profile body

Rules not allowed in the preamble section

capability rules rlimit rules file rules network rules ipc rules children profile and hats

  • alias & rewrite rules. Alias and rewrite rules can be used to rewrite all matching paths in a profile and are done after variable resolution. They are useful for site-specific configuration, without having to customize a shipped profile.
    Eg. if mysql databases are stored in /home/mysql:
    alias /var/lib/mysql/ -> /home/mysql/,
    rewrite /var/lib/mysql/ -> /home/mysql/,

    As of AppArmor 2.5 there are two forms of these rules.
    • alias - adds new rules for each path that the rule matches.

      NOTE: A bug in AppArmor 2.3, 2.4 causes alias rules to behave as rewrite rules.

    • rewrite - rewrites existing rules that match the rule. A subtlety with rewrite rules that may not be immediately apparent is the mapping will mask the original path. In the above example, there is no way for an application to access files that are actually in /var/lib/mysql/ once the alias is in use in the profile.
  • variables
  • include - as long as the files that are included only contain preamble rules

Profile section

 <profile section> ::= <profile>*

The profile section consists of one or more profiles. Generally if there is more than one profile the profiles are logically related but the do not have to be. The order profiles appear within the profile section is irrelevant though it is generally recommend that the main profile comes first with supporting, or hat profiles trailing.


 <profile> ::= <profile header> '{' <profile body> '}'
 <profile header> ::= <attachment specification> <profile flags>
 <profile header> ::= 'profile' <profile_name> <profile flags>                    (AppArmor 2.3 and later)
 <profile header> ::= 'profile' <attachment specification> <profile flags>        (AppArmor 2.3 and later)
 <profile header> ::= 'profile' <profile_name> <attachment specification> <profile flags>  (AppArmor 2.6 and later)

The profile (also known as a domain) is the base unit of confinement within AppArmor. It contains the set of rules that will be enforced on a task. It starts with a header which specifies the profile's name(s) and flags that control certain aspects of a profiles behavior. The body of the profile then contains a the set of rules defining what is allowed. The set of rules is a white list, that is anything not specified is not allowed. Profile rules just like rules in the preamble are declarative and order does not matter.

The profile header contains the name(s) of the profile and flags that govern the behavior of the profile. A profile begins with the sometimes option profile keyword followed the name(s) and or attachment specification of the profile and then the optional profile flags.

The profile keyword is optional if the profile is an attachment specification (begins with a /) otherwise it is required.

Profile names and attachment specifications

 <attachment specification> ::= ('/'|[:alphanum:]|<variable>)[^[:whitespace:]) ????? check lexer for exact pattern
 <profile name> ::= [:alphanum:] ?????? check lexer for exact pattern

The attachment specification is used by AppArmor to determine which executables a profile will attach to. If alternate profile name is not supplied the attachment specification is also used as the profiles name and if an attachment specification is not specified a profile name must be provided.

The name of a profile is very import in AppArmor. It provides not only a name(s) that users can associate to the set of profile rules, but is also used for labeling, ipc, and in the case that the name is an attachment specification it determines to which executables the profile attaches.

Profile names begin with an optional namespace name (see namespaces below) followed by the profile name. Profile names must begin with either an alphanumeric character or if an attachment specification / or a variable that when expanded matches the aformentioned restrictions, and they can not begin with the sequence // and within the profile // has special meaning. Profile names can not end with the / character, nor can they end with the , character unless the , is escaped or the profile name is quoted. Profile names can not contain white space unless the white space is escaped or the profile name is quoted. Escaping is done by placing the \ character in front of the character to be escaped and quoting is done using two " characters, one at the beginning of the profile name and one at the end.

If the profile name begins with a / character then the profile name is more than just a handle, it provides an attachment specification. That is during exec the profile name is matched against when deciding which profile to attach. If it the profile name does not begin with / then it must begin with the profile keyword.

When a profile name is begun with a variable each value in the variable list must meet the leading alphanumeric character or /. For variables specified internal a profile name the restriction on each variable value is the same as the restriction on characters within the profile name.

 Eg. Valid profile names
 /bin/example\ name
 "/bin/example name"
 profile /bin/example
 profile example
 profile "example name"
 profile "example\ name"
 profile example /bin/example
 Eg. Invalid profile names
 /bin/example/          # ends with /
 /bin/example,          # ends with , that isn't escaped or quoted
 /bin/example name      # This is multiple names not a single name
 "/bin/example name     # needs an ending quote character
 :profile               # starts with a :
 +profile               # starts with a +
Special character sequences within the profile name
Multiple profile names (not yet supported)

The specification for this feature is not finished.

Multiple attachments

Multiple attachments can be achieved in apparmor 2.6 and later by specifying a profile name and then an attachment with alternations in the regex.

 eg.  profile foo /{usr/bin,bin}/foo

Profile names that specify attachment

Profiles that begin with / are used in determining whether a profile matches, and attaches, to an executable. For unconfined tasks, and tasks confined by a profile doing a px based transition the profile name is matched against the executable name, and if a match is made then the profile is attached to the task.

Information on how the profile name interacts with the exec transition rules

Profile names with globbing (AppArmor 2.4 and later)

Profiles that specify attachment can contain AppArmor pattern matching characters, allowing the profile to match against more than one executable.

 /bin/** {
    #profile body

This example would match against all executables in /bin/, when multiple profiles overlap their attachment specification then the most specific match wins. If the most specific match can not be determined then the longest left match wins.

 /bin/foo {
    #profile body
/bin/f* { #profile body }
/bin/** { #profile body }
When matching against the executable /bin/foo, the /bin/foo profile is an exact match so it is chosen. For the executable /bin/fat, the profile /bin/foo does not match, and /bin/f* is more specific than /bin/** so, /bin/f* is the profile that will be attached.

If a special pattern match character is to be part of the profile name and not used to indicate pattern matching then the character must be escaped with a leading \ character. Quoting the profile name will not prevent the special pattern matching characters from being interpreted as pattern matching characters.

Profile names without attachment specification (AppArmor 2.3 and later)

Profile names do not begin with the / character are not used when determining which profile to attach to a task during an exec as their name does not reside in the filesystem namespace. Instead they are used only used when explicitly asked for either through a named exec transition or via the change_profile api.

Creating profiles without attachment is much the same as creating standard profiles except that the "profile" key word appears before the name of the profile.


 profile An.unattached.profile {
   # profile body

The profile names have a few limitations, they can not begin with the ':', '.' or '+' characters (though they may be used internally) and they can only contain whitespace characters if the name is quoted. Starting the profile name with '/' is the same as specifying a standard profile that will attach to a program of the same name.


 profile /bin/ping {

is the same as just doing

 /bin/ping {
Uses for profiles that don't attach

Profiles don't provide confinement unless they are attached to a running program. Profiles without attachment specification will not attach to a program when it is invoked (the executable name will never match the profile name), nor can they be transitioned to through a standard px transition rule. For one of these profiles to be attached so it provides confinement either change_profile profile or the new named (specified) profile transition is used.

This type of profile provides for more flexibility and advanced uses such as providing roles, or specialized profiles for system utilities that generally should not be confined by a system wide profile. For example, grep generally should not have its own profile but, it can be useful to have a specialized profile for an invocation of grep from within a confined shell script.

Profiles with names and attachment specifications (AppArmor 2.6+)

As of AppArmor 2.6 it is possible to specify the profile name separate from the profile attachment.

 profile name /example/attachment { }

As of 3.???? it is possible to make the attachment conditional upon the user or executable owner

 profile name ower=jj /example/attachment { }
 profile name user=foo /example/attachment { }
Profile namespaces (AppArmor 2.3+)

AppArmor allows for profiles to exist in different profile namespaces, this allows virtualizing policy for vhosts, or other container solutions. While the recommended way of doing this is using initscripts and profile layout it is possible to specify a the namespace a profile belongs to as part of its name.

Namespace limitations in AppArmor 2.5
  • There is no tool or initscript support so setting up namespaces is a completely manual process
  • namespaces can not be automatically attached to a container, but a userspace program can use the change_profile call to enter a profile namespace. After which profiles loaded from the container will be loaded to the namespace without any further intervention.
Namespace limitations in AppArmor 2.3 and 2.4
  • Namespaces were flat not hierarchical
  • Only confined tasks could live in a separate namespace, unconfined tasks always reverted to the default namespace
  • the first namespace was referred to as the default namespace, which is now the root namespace of the namespace hierarchy
  • There was no tool or initscript support so using them was a completely manual process
profile flags
 <profile flags> ::= ( 'flags=(' | '(' ) <flag keyword> (' ' <flag keyword>)* ')'
 <flag keyword> ::= <mode flag> | <relative flag> | <attach flag>
 <mode flag> ::= 'enforce' | 'complain' | 'debug' | 'kill'
 <relative flag> ::= 'chroot_relative' | 'namespace_relative'
 <attach flag> ::= 'attach_disconnected' | 'no_attach_disconnected' | 'chroot_attach' | 'chroot_no_attach'


  • 'debug' is obsolete and may result in a parse error (tested on 2.8)
  • 'enforce' and 'kill' are not yet supported (tested on 2.8)

If profile flags are not specified a default of enforce, namespace relative, no_attach_disconnected, chroot_no_attach mode is used, v2. NOTE

  • policy version flags
    • v2 - version 2 of the profile language is being used
    • v3 - version 3 of the profile language is being used, it has some extensions that slight change the semantics of policy.
  • audit - force auditing of all requests, whether allowed or denied. It is this flag is extremely noisy and so forced auditing is usually done via auditing controls on individual rules within a profile.
  • debug (currently unsupported) - turns on extra debug information for tasks confined by the profile.
  • mode flag (deprecated) - the mode flags specify the mode the profile is in and are mutually exclusive. They have been deprecated in favor of external controls in order to better separate policy and state.
    • enforce - enforce policy
    • complain - learning mode, unknown accesses are allowed and logged
    • debug - output additional debug information when using the profile
    • kill (first supported in AA2.6?) - log illegal accesses and kill the task doing the access
  • relative flags - The relative flags are mutually exclusive and control how name resolution is handled for the profile. If chroot_relative is used pathnames are looked up relative to the base of the chroot and names outside of the chroot are determined by the attach flags. The namespace_relative flag is similar except that names within a chroot are resolved absolute to the namespace with path names out side of the namespace being controlled by the attach flags.
  • attach flags - The attach flags control how disconnected paths are handled.
    • attach_disconnect and no_attach_disconnected are mutually exclusive and determine if pathnames resolved to be outside of the namespace are attached to the root. ie. have the / character prepended. This is generally not considered a good idea as it allows disconnected paths to alias to other files that exist in the file name. It is only provided to work around problems that can arise if delegation is not being used.
    • chroot_attach, and chroot_no_attach are mutually exclusive and control pathname generation when in a chroot and a file is accessed that is exernal to the chroot but within the namespace. With chroot_attach disconnected path names are attached to the root of the filesystem (ie. / prepended), other wise they are left disconnect.

??? reference to discussion about disconnected paths ???

 flags=(enforce debug)
 (complain chroot_relative)

Profile body

The body of the profile is enclosed inside a pair of curly brackets
 { } 
contains all the rules governing what is allowed by the profile. The rules within a profile are declarative (ie order independent) and cumulative.

The rules within a profile body are separated by either an comma or a newline.

  • include
  • rlimit rules

when are newlines optional, the comma rule separator

Rules allowed within a profile body

  • comments
  • include
  • children profile and hats
  • capability rules
  • rlimit rules
  • file rules
  • network rules
  • ipc rules
  • conditional rules enforcement rules (not conditional variable definitions)

Rules not allowed with in a profile body

Currently there are a couple rules that are not allowed in the profile body

  • variable definitions
  • alias rules

Local Profiles and Hats

??? allow local profiles to have a name separate from the attachment ??? allow user conditional on change_hat names ????

 spec - does not allow namespace

AppArmor allows for a profile to contain sub-profiles (aka local or children profiles), that can be used to provide tighter or alternate confinement for a subtask of an application.

A good use for local profiles is providing specialized confinement for utility programs launched by a confined application. In previous versions of AppArmor, if a global profile for the utility didn't exist or wasn't appropriate then the ix execute mode was the only choice for providing confinement to the utility application.

This means that utility application has the full privileges of the parent task which is not always desirable. Local profiles provide an alternative where the utility applications profile can be customized for the application that launches it.

Local profiles are specified just like standard profiles except they are embedded in a profile and the begin with the "profile" keyword.


 /parent/profile {
profile local/profile {
} }

Local profiles can specify an attachment, but it will only ever get used with exec rules that use cx, or named profile transition rules.


 /parent/profile {
profile /bin/grep {
} }

Hat and Local profile names

AppArmor "hats" are a local profile with some additional restrictions and an implicit rule allowing for change_hat to be used to transition to them. AppArmor "hats" may not contain their own "hats" but local profiles can contain their own local profiles and "hats". Local profiles that are not "hats" and can not be used with change_hat without an explicit hat rule.

"Hats" and local profiles are actually just standard profiles with special names. When a hat or Local profile is loaded, its name in the logs and as reported by ps -Z is the name of the parent profile and the name of the local profile seperated by '//'.


 /parent/profile {
^foo {
profile local.profile {
profile /bin/grep {
} }

Will show up as 4 profiles in the loaded profile listing.


External Local Profiles and Hats

With the knowledge that "hats" and local profiles are just standard profiles with using a standard naming convention it is possible to specify local profiles and "hats" external to a profile.


 /parent/profile {
^foo, # rule allowing change_hat }
/parent/profile//foo {
/parent/profile//local.profile {
/parent/profile///bin/grep {

Notice that for the external profile to function, as a "hat", a hat rule must be specified in the profile.

Structural (Meta) Profile Rules

Structural or Meta rules are rules that in and of themselves do not grant any permissions. They are not required to write a profile but they add a layer of abstraction and convenience that makes profiles easier to write, update, maintain and understand.


 <comment> ::= '#' .* '\n'

Comments can be added at any point within the profile file they being with the # and the remaining text to the end of the line is considered a comment. There is one exception #include (not # include) is consider as an include statement as described below.

 # A comment
    # A comment started a few columns in from the left.
    /foo r, # A comment on the same line as a rule
 eg. Invalide comments
 #include do something.

Include statements

 <include> ::= ('#include' | 'include') ('<' <path> '>' | '"' <path with whitespace> '"')

Include statements allow a profile file to include another file or set of files into the profile. The text inclusion is done early as a preprocessing step, so it is done before all other processing.

The include statement allows specifying the path of the file(s) to include in either relative to an include path, relative to the current file being processed or at an absolute position within the file system.

To specify paths relative to the set of include paths, file path is bracketed within < and >. The specified path must not begin with a / and it is used to search through all include paths inorder until the first match is made. For more information on configuring and specifying include paths see apparmor_parser documentation.

 include <abstractions/base>

To specify paths relative to the current file, path is bracketed with " and ", and the path does not start with /, but it can begin with ../. When processing includes, if an include specifies a relative path it will be relative to the include file being processed not the original profile file. File relative paths my fail when used in profiles that are passed to the apparmor_parser (policy compiler) via stdin (piped in) instead of specified via a file.

 include "somefile"
 include "../file_from_parent_directory"

To specify files that are at an absolute position within the filesystem, the path is bracketed with " and ", and the path begins with a /.

 include "/etc/apparmor.d/include/foo"

Directory Include

The include statement can be used to include all the files in a directory tree if the path specified is a directory. This can be used to expand a profile by simply adding new profile chunks within the directory.

The directory include mechanism, skips

  • directories (currently limited to a single level of directory include)
  • dot files, ie. any file starting with the '.' character
  • files ending with any of the following suffixes
    • .dpkg-new
    • .dpkg-old
    • .dpkg-dist
    • .dpkg-bak
    • .rpmnew
    • .rpmsave
    • ~
 include <abstractions/local/>


  • the include rule is terminated by the end of the line not by a trailing , character
  • directory includes where first supported in AppArmor 2.1
  • The include keyword without the leading # was first supported in AppArmor 2.3


  • the #include keyword is deprecated in favor of include as the former conflicts with the comment syntax.

Variable definitions

 <variable define> ::= '@{'<variable_name>'}' ('='|'+=') <value> (' ' <value>)*


  • order doesn't matter
  • list of values
  •  ??? recursive definitions
  • currently all statically expanded at compile time
  • plans for dynamic runtime variables
  • where they are allowed and how they are handled in rules is specified in the appropriate rule section


 /sbin/syslog-ng {
# chrooted files @{CHROOT_BASE}/var/lib/*/dev/log w, @{CHROOT_BASE}/var/log/** w,

AppArmor 2.3 tools support for variables is still limited to not removing rules containing them, and rules that do contain them will not be matched by the tools to eliminate log entry questions.

Support for dynamic variables is planned, but as of AppArmor 2.6 all variables are static. Thus, the @{HOME} variable is just lists all the possible home locations.

Toolset loads the variable definitions from files located under /etc/apparmor.d/tunnables/. For example, the @{HOME} variable is defined in /etc/apparmor.d/tunables/home as follows:

 @{HOME}=@{HOMEDIRS}/*/ /root/


  • Variables where introduced in AppArmor 2.1 but they could only exist in include files
  • AppArmor 2.3 extended support of variables for that they could appear in any part of the preamble section or files included by the preamble.
  • Tool support for variables is currently limited

Conditional statements

TODO hrmmm, do we want to document these at this time?

Alias and rewrite rules

 <alias> ::= 'alias' <path> ('to'|'->') <path>
 <rewrite> ::= 'rewrite' <path> ('to'|'->') <path>

Alias rules provide an admin a way to manipulate profile path mappings to site specific layouts. They are an alternative form of path rewriting to using variables, and are done post variable resolution.


 alias /home/ -> /mnt/users/
 intersects the rule
/home/foo rw,

 resulting in the additional rule
/mnt/users/foo rw,

The same will happen for all other rules/parts of rules that intersect the alias rule. It is important to note that this applies to broad rules as well.

Example 2

 alias /home/ -> /mnt/users/<tt>
 intersects the rule
<tt>/h** l,

 resulting in the additional rule
/mnt/users/** l,

That is only the portion of the rule that intersects what would be /home/** gains an alias under /mnt/users/

It is important to note that alias does not remove the original rules, so both path are treated the same in the final policy. The rewrite differs from the alias rule in that rules that intersect the origin (/home/ in this case) are removed so that only the target path is valid in final policy.


Permission Based Profile Rules

Rule qualifiers

There are several rule qualifiers that can be applied to permission rules. Some rules do not support all qualifiers, and some qualifiers are not supported in earlier versions of AppArmor. Qualifiers when specified modify the rule and possibly permissions with in the rule, the exact affect of each qualifier is documented in each of the rule types in the appropriate section.

When qualifiers are supported they must appear in the following order and certain qualifiers can not be specified with other qualifiers.

 <rule qualifier> ::= [('audit'|'quiet')] [('deny'|'kill'|'nokill')] ['owner']

When qualifiers are specified they are applied, to the rule per permission.  ??? expand ???

only audit

???? qualifier that make the rule not grant permissions but just set audit flags on rules with permissions


???? clears audit qualifier off of rules. Does it take precedence over audit like deny over allow???


The audit keyword is used to specify that permissions requests that match the rule should be audited (ie a message about the access recorded to the audit log). Per rule auditing does not override global or profile auditing modes, but will apply when profiles are in the normal audit mode.

 audit /etc/shadow w,
 /etc/shadow r,</tt>

this will result in audit messages when /etc/shadow is opened for writing, but not when it is opened for just reading.

It is important to note with audit messages that they are not generated for every read or write of a file but only when a file is opened for read or write.

Audit control can be combined with owner conditional file rules to provide auditing when a user access files they own, but at this time it can not be used to audit only files they don't own.

 audit owner /home/*/.ssh/** rw,


The deny keyword is used to add rules that document permissions that are not allowed by the profile. Deny rules are not strictly necessary as profiles are a white list, and any permission requests that do not match a rule within the profile are denied.

The deny rule is used by the profile learning tools to document permission requests made by a task that were then specifically denied by the user when creating a profile. This allows the tools to remember these permission requests in the profile and not prompt the user to make the decision again if the request is encountered again later.

Deny rules also specifies noaudit for the rule so that known rejects are not logged by default. If auditing of these known rejects is desired then the deny keyword can be combined with the audit keyword.

subtracting permissions

Deny rules serve one other purpose, they can be used to remove a set of permissions from a profile because deny rules take precedence over allow based rules. This works because deny rules are accumulated like allow rules but in a separate set, the deny set is the subtracted from the allow set, to find the final permission set.

This use of deny rules should be avoided when possible and when done the deny rules should be placed up front at the top of the profile and not hidden in an include. This is because deny rules can make profiles harder to read and understand when they overlap allow rules.

kill (not currently supported)

The kill keyword is used to specify a deny rule that results in the task being killed when matched.

Note: the kill and nokill qualifiers conflict and will cause policy compilation if rules that are qualified by them overlap.

nokill (not currently supported)

The nokill keyword is used to specify a deny rule that will not kill the task when the rule is matched. It is used to override the global or per profile kill mode, which if enabled will kill confined tasks on any AppArmor denial unless the rule causing the denial is annotated with nokill.

Note: the kill and nokill qualifiers conflict and will cause policy compilation if rules that are qualified by them overlap.

qualifier blocks (not currently supported)

Instead of specifying the same rule qualifiers on multiple rules they can be specified at the head of a block that will then apply them to each rule embedded in the block. All the rules specified in the block must be compatible with the qualifiers at the head of the block. Qualifier blocks can be nested resulting in an accumulation of qualifiers on the rules with in.

 <qualifier> '{' <rules> '}'
 eg 1.
 audit {
   /file1 r,
   /file2 w,
 eg 2.
 audit {
   /file1 r,
   owner {
     /file2 w,
     /file3 rw,


The permissions granted by a rule can be conditional upon other factors than the access path.

The positioning of a conditional is important, as it determines which part of a rule it is applied to

The following are equivalent for a single element rule

 owner /foo r,
 owner file /foo r,
 file owner /foo r,

when the conditional appears before the rule type it applies to all elements of a rule

 owner link /foo -> /bar,
 link owner /foo -> owner /bar,
 owner mount option=bind /foo -> /bar,
 mount option=bind owner /foo -> owner /bar,

 'owner' ['='((<user_id>)|('(' <user_id> (' '(<user_id>)* ')')]
 <user_id> : <uid> | <username>

The owner keyword is used to make the rule conditional on object ownership. Specifically the task must have the same euid/fsuid as the object being referenced by the permission check.

 owner /foo rw,

Owner conditional rules accumulate just as regular file rules and are considered a subset of regular file rules so that if a regular file rule overlaps with an owner conditional file rule, the resultant permissions will be that of the regular file rule, since it specifies permissions regardless of ownership.

 eg. given the following rules
 owner /home/*/** rw,
 /home/*/foo rw,

The files matched by /home/*/foo do not have be owned by the user.

It is important to remember with owner rules that, like standard rules they are just a further restriction of DAC permissions, they do not grant additional permissions and the file must be accessible via the DAC permission test before it will be checked against the profiles permissions.

When using file ownership conditions with link rules the ownership test is against the target file. This enables forcing openwall style link restrictions, where to link to a file the user must own the file.


 owner /** l,	# restrict hardlinks to user owned files
extended ownership tests (not currently supported)

If the optional equal operator is used then, the test is not against the euid/fsuid but that the object has the same uid as the uid(s) following the equal sign.

 owner=(fred george)
 owner=(fred 1001)


  • If a username is used it is resolved to a uid value at compile time, the username is not loaded into the kernel.



extended conditionals (not currently supported)

 'if' <condition> '{' <rules> '}'

The owner qualifier is a special short cut for the more generic conditional operator. - some of its conditions are rule specific

 eg.  owner /foo r, is equivalent to
 if owner { /foo r, }

TODO: explain <condition> syntax

Capability rules

The capability rule grants tasks permissions to for any capabilities currently supported by the Linux kernel (the capabilities are based on POSIX draft 1003.1e). Capability rules do not grant extra capability privileges to a task, but serve to mask the tasks, effective and permitted capability sets. For information on raising tasks capabilities see the following guide.

Capability rules will affect the effective and permitted permissions seen returned via capget, however they do not change the tasks capabilities, they are only masked while the task is confined by the profile. This has two main effects: if the task transitions to a different profile the set of masked capabilities can change, and tasks children inherit the tasks permission set, which will be masked by the profile confining the child task.

 [('audit'|'quiet')' '] [('deny'|'kill'|'nokill')' '] 'capability' <cap> [<extended cap>|(' '<cap>)+] ','

AppArmor capability rules start with the capability keyword followed by either a single capability with extend information or multiple capability names separated by a white space and finally terminated by a comma , character. The rule can be prefixed with any of the rule qualifiers, or may appear in a qualifier block.

The capabilities that are currently supported are,

 capability sys_admin,

Hrmm this needs to be worked out

 capability dac_overide (jj smb),

Some capabilities can have extended capability specific information associated with them that further qualifies when the capability is granted.

  • NOTE currently there are no extended capability qualifiers supported.

TODO: doc how do chown rules interact with chown capability etc.

Interaction of capability rules with other rules

Having a capability rule does not necessarily grant enough permissions for an application to perform a given operation. Often the profile will require both a capability and another access rule. For example to be able to access file that is not owned by someone else the task must have the dac_overide capability and the profile must contain both a file access rule and capability dac_override. The capability is required to over come the standard unix DAC check with its accompanying capability check, and the file access rule is required by apparmor to access the file.


  • capability rules do not directly support the owner conditional qualifier (chown and other file rules do).
  • currently only a single capability can be specified per rule.
  • audit, and deny rule qualifiers first appeared in AppArmor 2.3
  • AppArmor qualifiers currently not supported
    • qualifier blocks
    • quiet
    • kill
    • nokill

File access rules

 <file rule> ::= [<qualifiers>] <path> <permissions> [<x transition>] ','
 <file rule> ::= [<qualifiers>] <permissions> path [<x transition>] ','
 <file rule> ::= <link rule>
 <file rule> ::= <chmod rule> - capability interaction
 <file rule> ::= <chown rule> - capability interaction
 <file rule> ::= <exec rule>
 <file rule> ::= <xattr rule>

??? <change_profile rule> ::= 'change_profile' ['on' <exec name>] ( 'to' | '->' ) <profile name> ','

???? trigger rules

 <link rule> ::= [<qualifiers>] 'link' ['subset'] <path> ('to'|'->') <path> ','
 <chmod rule> ::= [<qualifiers>] 'chmod' <path> ','  ??? mode
 <chown rule> ::= [<qualifiers>] 'chown' <path> 'to' (<owner spec> | <group spec>) [<owner spec> | <group spec>]
 <owner spec> ::= 'owner=' ( <uid>|<username>|'(' (<uid>|<username>)+ ')' )
 <group spec> ::= 'group=' ( <gid>|groupname>|'(' (<gid>|<groupname>)+ ')' )

File access rules control which files and the operations that are allowed on them. There are several forms of file rules, some are generic and some provide specific forms that allow specifying more information.

audit, quiet, deny, kill, nokill? owner and conditional

pattern matching - delegation - lazy evaluation (labeling) - replacement

File permissions

 <permission> ::= <short form> | <long form perm> | '(' <long form perm>+ ')'
 <short form> ::= [rwalkmx]+

AppArmor file permissions have two forms, the short abbreviated course grained form, and a longer fine grained form. The abbreviated form is what is usually used and the permissions map to a set of longer fine grained permissions. The short form permissions can be represented by a single letter or by a name, while the fine grained form can only be represented by a name. Short and long form permissions can be mixed on a single rule by separating them by spaces, just as long form permissions are separated.

Short form permissions

  • r - read - permission to read data
  • w - write - permission to create, delete, write to a file and extend it
  • a - append - permission to create, and extend a file. The append permission is limited that it only gives permission for applications to open a file with O_APPEND, it can not be used to enforce a generic file write is append only. If an application only has the append permission in the profile and it tries to write to the file even if it is an appending write, the write will be failed.
  • l - link - permission to link to a file (combined with /** to determine if permissions apply to subtree)
  • k - lock - permission to lock a file, is combined with write perm to determine if it has permission to take exclusive lock
  • m - memory map executable - permission to memory map a file executable
  • x - executable - determines if a file is executable, allow forms of the rule must be accompanied by x qualifiers. When specified as part of an allow rule it must be accompanied by qualifiers.

Long form permissions (not currently exposed/supported)

  • create - permission to create a file
  • open - permission to open a file
  • delete - permission to delete a file
  • rename - a special rename permission that allows moving a file without being able to read/write the file data.
  • read - permission to read a files contents
  • getattr - permissions to read a files meta data (attributes)
  • getxattr - permissions to read extend attributes
  • write - permission to write data to a file, including extending the file (implies append)
  • append - permission to append new data to the file (extending the file size), no data overwrite. Must be used in conjunction with application opening the file with O_APPEND, otherwise the file open will fail
  • trunc - permission to truncate (shorten the file)
  • setattr - permission to write a subset of the files meta-data not controlled by specialized flags
  • setxattr - permission to write extended attributes
  • chmod - permission to change DAC file permissions on the file
  • chown - permission to change file owner
  • chgrp - permission to change file group
  • link - permission to link to the file, when used with ** determines if permissions apply to an entire subtree
  • snapshot - permission to snapshot a file or directory
  • lock - permission to lock a file, combines with ???append || ???write to take exclusive lock
  • mmap_r - mmap a file readable
  • mmap_w - mmap a file writable
  • mmap_x - mmap a file executable
  • mprot_wx - allow transitioning an mmap from w to x, (this sticks for the lifetime of the mmap even if w is removed before trying to apply x
  • mprot_xw - allow transitioning an mmap that was granted x permissions to having w permissions.
  • exec - permission to execute a file

  • change_profile -
  • onexec - permission to take change_profile at exec time, overriding exec transitions, this is specified as part of a change_profile rule and can not be specified as part of a standard file rule

Short form permissions map to

r - read, meta-read, mmap_r
w - create, delete, trunc, write, meta-write, chmod, chown, mmap_w, mprot_wx, partial rename (where it implies partial source rename permissions and full destination renamed permission)
a - append, create
l - link (may be combined with other permissions to determine if allowed)
k - lock (combines with ???write to determine if exclusive lock is allowed)
m - mmap_x, mprot_wx
x - exec, (if ix then also mmap_x)
Directory Traversal

AppArmor does not control permission to traverse directories (In DAC x permission on a directory). This ability is implicitly granted but can still be control by DAC.

directory traversal is implicit

Sub-tree Permission (not supported yet)

When a permission is specified with a rule that ends with the pattern /**, it grants the specified permission to all files and directories within the sub-tree and it also grants those permissions for operations on the sub-tree. This is used to determine whether a directory can be moved, or a snapshot can be made.

   /home/** rw,

grants permission to access all files and directories below /home/ but also marks /home/ as having these permissions for its sub-tree. This allows for permission decisions to made for entire trees.


  • First supported in AppArmor 2.6 ???
Trigger profile change (not supported yet)

Basic file rules can have a change_profile on access rule, which will cause a tasks profile to be transitioned when the tasks accesses the resource. This allows writing a policy that changes based on which resources are accessed. The profile change is subject to all the limitations ???insert link to change_profile discussion??? of a change_profile call.

An x transition trigger is written similar to an exec named transition

 rw /path -> profile
 rw /path : label -> <profile> ','

syntax needs to be nailed down should we allow specifying a trigger on combined with an x rule

subject to same collisions that x rules are subject to.

transition is stored for each permission

logging permissions, and how they are different


Rename Rules (not currently supported)

 <rename> ::=  'rename' <path> ('to'|'->' <path> ','

The rename rule provides permissions to rename a specific set of paths without requiring read or write permissions on a file. The rename rule and permission is not required to do file renames, as renames are allowed as long as the profile has sufficient permissions on the source and destination files (ie the source must be able to be read and deleted and the destination must be able to be created and written to).

 rename /tmp/* to /home/* ,

Link Rules

 <link> ::= 'link' <path> [('to'|'->') <path> ','
            'l' <path> [('to'|'->') <path> ','
            <path> 'l' ','

The permission to link to a file (create a name alias) is controlled by the link permission and it can be specified in two different ways.

The l permission can be combined with other file permissions in a single rule. This form of the link rule states that the specified path can be a link, and that it can be linked to any other file as long as access to the file is allowed by the profile and the permissions for the target file are a subset of the permission specified by the profile for the link file.

 /link/file l,
 l /link/file,

The alternate form of the link rule is used to specify a link and target pair. It starts with the link keyword followed by an optional subset qualifier then the link path, the to keyword and then the target path, which is then terminated with a , character.

 'link' ['subset'] <link file path> ' ' ('to'|'->') ' ' <target file path> ','

link /link/file to /target/file, link subset /link/file to /target/*,

The subset qualifier when used specifies that the target/file must have a subset of permissions of the link file as specified by the profile.

The link permission when written using the l permission character is equivalent to the following link pair rule

 link subset /path -> /**,

thus, the rule

    /link/name rwl,

is equivalent to

    link subset /link/name -> /**,
    /path/name  rw,


  • The use of the -> symbol is deprecated in favor of the to keyword, but to is not recognized by the AppArmor 2.3 - 2.5 compiler.
  • The link pair rule is available in AppArmor 2.3 and later
  • currently link pair rules are not supported by the tools but they will not be stripped so it is safe to update profiles containing them.
Directory links and snapshoting (not supported yet)

For filesystems that support them link permission is also used to control whether a snapshot of a file or directory can be made. This is done by specifying the link and target names are directories

 /dir/ l,
 link /dir/ to /target/
 link /dir/ to /**/

Because links to directories and snapshots provide alternate paths to a tree of files it is important to control permissions properly. It is recommended that the subset qualifier is always used on rules allowing links and snapshots to directories, and that link location have ???recursive permissions defined.

This will ensure that from the profile pov the user has the same permissions on the new tree as on the target tree, which avoids potential attacks that widen permissions.

Chmod and Chown Rules

The rules governing chmod and chown both have forms that can specify a path. For further information on them see ?????.

Execute rules

 ('safe' | 'unsafe') <path> <qualifier>'x' [[' ->' <profile name>] ['+' <profile name>]] ','
 ('safe' | 'unsafe') <perm>: <x qualifier>'x' [[' ->' <profile name>] ['+' <profile name]] ','
 ??? how do qualifiers work with long form permissions
<path> 'x' '->' <profile list> ',' (not yet supported)

Exec rules control profile (domain) transitions when an application execs into another tasks. The basics of profile transitions are quite simple but ???complicated semantics???

Unconfined tasks determine their domain transitions using

 /** Px


  • p - exec to profile that matches executable name, no environment variable scrubbing
  • P - exec to profile that matches executable name, with environment variable scrubbing
  • c - exec to child profile that matches executable name, no environment variable scrubbing
  • C - exec to child profile that matches executable name, with environment variable scrubbing
  • u - exec to unconfined, no environment variable scrubbing (VERY DANGEROUS)
  • U - exec to unconfined, with environment variable scrubbing
  • i - inherit current confinement

Combining qualifiers inheritance and unconfined fallbacks

  • pix
  • Pix
  • cix
  • Cix
  • pux
  • PUx
  • cux
  • CUx


  • pux, PUx, cux, CUx first available in AppArmor 2.5
  • cx, Cx, pix, Pix, cix, CUx first available in AppArmor 2.3
  • For historical reasons, apparmor_parser also accepts "mixed case" Pux, Cux, pUx and cUx. This is deprecated syntax, confusing (you won't get the behaviour you'd expect with mixed case - for example Pux is equivalent to PUx) and not supported by aa-logprof.

Environment variable scrubbing

TODO: safe/unsafe ix vs m named transitions namespaces recommended that x be specified as its own rule and not combined with others stacking profiles

 /program ix + <profile>
 /program px + <profile>
 /program pix -> <profile> + <profile>

domain hierachies - virt profiles, hat struct to represent transitions(tomoyo style)????

???? change_profile trigger rules ???? /foo w -> <profile>

AppArmor 2.3 has some new options for execute permissions. In addition to the ix, ux, and px permissions present in AppArmor 2.1, there is a new cx permission, as well as the ability to specify a profile to transition to. Additionally each of these can be offered in an inherit fall back mode.

New transition mode cx

The new cx permision is like px except it specifies a transition to a child (also known as local) profile. Just as with px, cx specifies transitioning to a profile who's name matches the executable, except instead of searching the global profile set, only the local profiles of the current profile are search.

The cx profile transition combines with local profiles providing a way for an application to have alternate profiles for helper applications. For example a text based mail viewer could have a profile for /bin/grep, which the system doesn't confine by default.

The cx transition provides an alternative to using ix for utilities, providing the possiblity of achieving tighter confinement.


 /usr/bin/mutt {
/bin/grep cx,
profile /bin/grep {
} }

As with the ux and px profile transition modes, cx comes in both safe and unsafe variants. Cx is "safe" and has glibc sanitize the environment variables, while cx does not sanitize the environment variables.


Named (specified) profile transitions

In addition to the cx transition mode AppArmor 2.3 adds the ability to specify exactly which profile will be transitioned to. This can be useful if multiple binaries should share a single profile, or if they should use a different profile than there name would specify.

Named profile transitions use -> to indicate the name of the profile that should be transitioned to.


 /usr/bin/mutt {
/bin/** px -> shared_profile, }

The px in the rule indicates the transition will look for the profile in the global scope. If a cx is used the transition searches for a local profile.


 /usr/bin/mutt {
/bin/** px -> shared_profile, /usr/*bash cx -> /bin/bash,
profile /bin/bash {
} }

Using cx in a named profile transition is a convience and is equivalent to specifying px with the parent profile name properly prepended. ie. the cx line from the above example is equivalent to

 /usr/*bash px -> /usr/bin/mutt///bin/bash,

There is an implementation specific limit on how many named profile transitions can be specified in a profile. The limit in AppArmor 2.3 is 12.

Globbing with px/cx and named profile transitions

The px/cx execute permissions use the executable name to specify which profile to transition to, so when they are used with globbing they can specify many different profile transitions.

 ie. /bin/** px, Will transition to /bin/ping, /bin/cat, ... depending on the program being run.

Named profile transitions when combined with globbing provide a many to one transition. ie. All programs that match the rule regardless of their name will transition to the specified profile.

When globbing is not used, a px transition is equivalent to a named profile transition to the file rule pathname.

   /bin/ping px,
 is equivalent to
   /bin/ping px -> /bin/ping,

Profile transitions and inheritance fall back

The px, cx, and named profile transitions specify a hard dependency, in that if the specified profile does not exist, the exec will be failed.

AppArmor 2.3 introduces the ability to have an inheritance fall back so that instead of the program execution failing, it will succeed but inherit the current profile. This allows for a soft profile dependency, which allows for gradual or partial profile deployment.

To specify inheritance fall back ix is combined with px, cx into the pix and cix modes. The pix and cix modes can be used with named profile transition to provide inheritance fallback as well. The pix and cix modes like px, and cx have safe and unsafe versions.

Mount rules (AppArmor 2.8 and later)

AppArmor supports mediation of filesystem mounts. AppArmor mount rule syntax uses elements of the Linux mount syntax but differs somewhat due to the complexities of the mount syntax. AppArmor mount rules is capable of expressing all mount options.

The general mount syntax is

<mnt_rule> ::= ['audit'] ['deny'] ['owner'] 'mount' <conds>* [<source>] [ -> <conds>* <mntpnt>],
<mnt_rule> ::= ['audit'] ['deny'] remount <conds>* [<mntpnt>],
<mnt_rule> ::= ['audit'] ['deny'] umount <conds>* [<mntpnt>],
<mnt_rule> ::= ['audit'] ['deny'] pivot_root [<oldpath>] [<mntpnt>] [ -> <profile>],
<conds> ::= ('fstype'|'vfstype') <cond_op> <expr>
<conds> ::= 'options' <cond_op> <expr>
<conds> ::= 'owner' [<cond_op> <expr>]  (NOTE: not supported in AppArmor 2.8)
<cond_op> ::= ('=' | 'in')
<expr> ::= (<re> | '(' (<re>[,])+ ')')

Note: conditions on the <mntpnt> (dest) are not supported in AppArmor 2.8. Note: leading (before the mount keyword) owner option applies the owner condition to both <source> (device) and destination path (mntpnt). It is not supported in AppArmor 2.8 Note: AppArmor 2.8 contains a bug (, which prevents fs specific options from being matched in regular expressions. Specifically, options=** will not match any fs specific options.

Mount rules must contain one of the mount, remount, umount or pivot_root keywords, but all mount conditions are optional. Unspecified optional conditionals are assumed to match all entries (eg, not specifying fstype means all fstypes are matched). However if a condition is specified then the rule only grants permission for mounts matching the specified pattern. The more parts of a rule specified the more specific the match becomes.

The simplest rule is also the most generic:

 mount,								# allow any mount

which is equivalent to:

 mount fstype==** options=** **-> /**,

The fstype, options, source and mntpnt components all support the apparmor globbing syntax (see note about options and pattern matching in AppArmor 2.8).


 mount /dev/foo,						# allow mounting of /dev/foo anywhere
 mount options=ro /dev/foo,  					# allow mounting /dev/foo as read only
 mount options=(ro,foo) /dev/foo,
 mount options=ro options=foo /dev/foo,
 mount -> /mnt/**,	# allow any mount on dirs under /mnt/
 mount options=ro -> /mnt/**, # allow any read only mount under /mnt/
 mount fstype=overlayfs options=(rw,upperdir=/tmp/upper/,lowerdir=/) overlay -> /mnt/

Permission accumulation

Like apparmor file rules mount rules accumulate permissions on a given path, however it is important to note what permission is accumulating and what the path is. Mount rules provide 3 broad permissions: mount, unmount, and pivot_root, the rest of the information in a mount rule is access path and conditional information determining when the permission can be applied.

This means that for the following two rules, while the mount permission is accumulated the options are not

 #The following two rules
 mount options=ro,
 mount options=nodev,
 #are NOT equivalent too
 mount options=(ro, nodev),
 #are equivalent too
 mount options=ro options=nodev,

Multi-valued (set) vs. Single valued conditionals

The mount rules options condition is special in that it specifies an ordered set of values that can have multiple values selected at once; not a list of values like is done for most rule conditionals. In apparmor 2.8 there is unfortunately no syntactic difference between the two types (list vs. set).

 options=(ro, nouser)   # set of values. Multiple values can be valid simultaneously 
fstype=(ext3, btrfs) # list of value. Only a single value can be valid at a time

Multiple vs. Single rule

Like all AppArmor rules, mount rules are declarative which means that rule order does not matter. The exception is that deny rules always take precedence over allow rules, removing granted permissions when necessary.

Due to the complexity and flexibility of the Linux mount syntax itself, it is often possible to specify a particular mount restriction in multiple ways: in a single rule using pattern matching, with list elements, or across multiple rules. Generally the form chosen should be the one that is easiest to understand, policy compilation reduces the author's policy to be as compact and efficient as possible so using one rule vs. two or a regular expression should not change the results.


 mount fstype=(ext3,ext4),

is equivalent to

 mount fstype=ext3,
 mount fstype=ext4,

When splitting the parameters of the <option> conditionals, care must be taken since it is multi-valued and treats the = and in conditional operators differently. Ie:

 options=(ro, acl)

is NOT equivalent to (see the options section for more details):


<source> (device path)

The <source> element can be a path or any other value. It matches against the device spec of a mount command.

In the command:

 mount /dev/sda1 /mnt
<source> matches against /dev/sda1

In the command:

 mount -t overlayfs -o rw,upperdir=/tmp/upper,lowerdir=/ none /mnt
<source> matches against none

In the command:

 mount --bind /home /mnt
<source> matches against /home


The fstype is an optional element that can be used to match against a device's file type. It is a single valued option such that:

 fstype=ext4 == fstype=(ext4) == fstype in (ext4)
fstype=(ext3, ext4) == fstype in (ext3, ext4)

In other words, fstype will match against any one value in the supplied list and each element in the supplied list can be a pattern match. Eg:

 fstpye=(ext?, aufs, devfs)

Note: In AppArmor 2.8 the fstype may not be matched against when certain mount command flags are used. Specifically fstype matching currently only works when creating a new mount and not remount, bind, etc.

destination (<mntpnt>)

The <mntpnt> is the location of the mounted device or filesystem will be after it is mounted. It must always be a valid path and should usually end with a / character in policy. The -> must always be specified before the destination <mntpnt> is specified. If -> is not specified any path will be interpreted as a <source> path or the parser will throw an error during compilation. Eg:

 mount -> /,                  # mount on root
 mount -> /**,                # mount any where below root
 mount -> /{**,},             # mount on or below root
 mount -> /**/,               # mount on only directories below root
 mount -> /**[^/],            # mount on only files below root

If the destination <mntpnt> location supports both files and directories then use either a trailing ** pattern match, alternation {/,}, or separate mount rules.

Note: AppArmor 2.8 does not support conditionals on the destination <mntpnt>.

<options> and flags

The <options> element is a multi-valued (set) option that covers two distinct types of options: mount flags and fs specific options. Being a multi-valued option it treats the = and in operators differently and also treats the two types differently when performing matching.

The mount flags are a preset list of values that are generic to all mount commands, while the fs specific options are anything else that can be specified. Because the generic mount flags and fs specific options are handled slightly differently, it is important to know the differences.

The = operator specifies that the rule only grants permission for mounts matching the exactly specified options. For example, an AppArmor policy with the following rule:

 mount options=ro, 
allows mount operations that only specify the ro flag (eg, '# mount -o ro /dev/foo /mnt')


 mount options=(ro, nodev),
only matches if the mount uses both the ro and nodev flags and no others (eg '# mount -o ro,nodev /dev/foo /mnt')

The in conditional operator allows options to be any or all of the listed values (a subset of the values). In other words, if a conditional is specified using 'in', then the rule grants permission for mounts matching any combination of the specified options. Eg:

 mount options in (ro, nodev),

is equivalent to

 mount options=ro,
 mount options=nodev,
 mount options=(ro, nodev),

NOTE: While the order that the flags are specified in a rule does not matter, in AppArmor 2.8 the order of fs specific options does matter.

NOTE: Due to limitations in the Linux kernel, there is currently no way to have 'options in (ro,nodev)' to mean only 'ro' is set, or 'nodev' is set or 'ro and nodev are set'. Instead 'options in (ro,nodev)' means 'any combination of the specified option and its inverse can be set' such that 'options in (ro,nodev)' == 'options in (rw,nodev)' == 'options in (ro,dev)' == 'options in (rw,dev)'.

specifying options multiple times

The options conditional may be specified multiple times within a section of the mount rule which can aid in logically breaking up a conditional and provides flexibility to switch between = and in conditional operators. As long as the conditional operators are the same, the specified options can be split and combined interchangeably.

The following are all equivalent

mount options=(ro, nodev)
mount options=(ro) options=(nodev)
mount options=(ro, nodev, upperdir=/tmp/upper, lowerdir=/)
mount options=(ro) options=(nodev) options=(upperdir=/tmp/upper) options=(lowerdir=/)
mount options in (ro, nodev, user)
mount options in (ro) options in (nodev, user)
mount options in (ro nodev) options in (user)
mount options in (ro) options in (nodev) options in (user)

When both = and in conditional operators are used the options within each condition type can be combined and split interchangeably.

mount options=(ro, acl) options in (nodev, user)
mount options=(ro) options=(acl) options in (nodev) options in (user)

It is important to note that allow rule in options can also be encoded using = and both the positive and negative forms of a flag:

mount options=(ro, acl) options in (nodev, user)
mount options=(ro, acl, dev, nodev, user, nouser)

but this is discouraged because it is harder to understand, the negative form must be known to exist (not all flags have a negative form), this form does not directly apply to deny rules because of the inversion that the deny operator applies.

mount flags

Mount flags are a predetermined set of values that are common to all mount commands, and they are separated out from the fs specific options. The apparmor option names are based on those used by the mount command. If the mount command supplies both a flag and option value then both are available to be used in apparmor mount rules.

Eg, the mount command allows the read only flag to specified as

   mount o=ro
   mount -r
   mount --read-only

All variants are available to the apparmor mount rule (without the leading '-' or '--').

The generic mount flags are split into two type generic flags and the mount command flags have no negative form.

Generic mount flags
Positive form Negative form notes
ro, r, read-only rw, w
suid nosuid
dev nodev
exec noexec
sync async
mand nomand
atime noatime
diratime nodiratime
acl noacl
relatime norelatime
iversion noiversion
user nouser
Mount command type flags
command equivalent to
bind, B
move, M
rbind, R
make-runbindable options=(make-unbindable, rbind)
make-rprivate options=(make-private, rbind)
make-rslave options=(make-slave, rbind)
make-rshared options=(make-shared, rbind)

Any other options that are specified are treated as fs specific options. Eg, the rule:

 mount fstype=overlayfs options=(ro,uppderdir=/tmp/upper,lowerdir=/),

could be rewritten in an equivalent form with the generic options and fs specific options separated like so:

 mount fstype=overlayfs options=ro options=(upperdir=/tmp/upper,lowerdir=/),

Note: the flags portion of a pattern match is not properly handled in AppArmor 2.8.

fs specific options

As noted above, fs specific options are any options that remain after the generic mount flags have been removed, and they are special in a few ways.

  • AppArmor does not know the set of options supported by any given filesystem so anything that does not match a mount flag is passed through as an option. This means typos in mount flags are treated as an fs specific option
  • In AppArmor 2.8 the order of the fs specific options matters. They must be specified in the same order that the user enters them
  • Pattern matching can be used and is currently completely separated from the fs flags (ie this known bug means they don't match against patterns).
  • Options must be entered the exact same as the user enters them in the mount command. Mediation is done before the filesystem parses the options and converts them into filesystem objects. This means that if a file system specific option specifies a directory but the user does not specify a trailing '/', then the fs specific option should not either.

Eg. if the user uses the following command

 mount -t overlayfs -o rw,uppderdir=/tmp/upper,lowerdir=/ none /mnt

then the apparmor mount command must specify the fs specific options the same way:


notice that /tmp/upper does not have a trailing /, this is contrary to how apparmor matches against directories for other rules.

In general it is recommended that when specifying fs specific options that should match a directory to use pattern matching so the rule will work regardless of whether the user includes a trailing / in their mount command:



directories and files (trailing /)

Because AppArmor differentiates between directories and files, it is important in apparmor rules to makes sure that specified path elements have a trailing / if they are to match directory objects. However, the mount command does not always specify elements that match up to an actual object in the filesystem. An example is when the <source> element specifies none, there is no device or path associated with the mount.

Of particular note is fs options specified in the options field must match exactly as specified otherwise they may not resolve to a filesystem object.

Note: currently flags can not be extracted from or matched to regular expressions, and must be manually specified. See Bug #965690


The remount rule is just a convenience rule that maps to the mount rule

 mount options=remount -> <conds>* [<mntpnt>],


The umount rule gives permission to unmount a specified mount point. In AppArmor 2.8, the umount rule does not support any conditionals.


pivot_root [oldroot=<value>] [<path>] [-> <profile>]

The pivot_root rule gives permission to pivot the root of the filesystem (see man pivot_root). It should not be granted unless it is required because it allows changing the visibility of all paths for tasks within the filesystem namespace. This changes the meaning of all profile path rules, which can lead to aliasing and confusion.

The pivot_root rule provides a means to change_profile [-> <profile>] and even the namespace when a pivot_root is done, but this has several caveats:

  • It can only be done against the task doing the pivot_root; other tasks in the namespace will NOT be updated
  • The changed profile must be written with the changed filesystem view in mind which can result in disconnected paths for files that where opened under the old view.
  • It results in revalidation of some files under the new path names.

Chmod rules

 <chmod> ::= <path> <perms + chmod> ','
             'chmod' <perm_mask> [<path>] ','
 <perm_mask> ::= (####| rwxrwxrwx)

The chmod permission allows controlling which DAC permissions can be changed by specifying a mask. If a path is specified the permission mask only applies to files but it can be applied to all objects (eg. sockets) if no path is specified.

When chmod is specified without a mask it is assumed the mask is 7777?


 chmod 777,  # allow chmoding all files and sockets.
 chmod 777 /home/**,  # allow chmoding files in home
 deny chmod 0222,
 /path (rw chmod),  # mask /path with 

how to specify none file objects and not include files? Should not specifying the path only apply to non path based objects? Maybe

 so chmod 777, would not apply to files then

Chown rules

setuid and sticky bits

Setuid rules

requires capability setuid

 setuid -> fred,
 setuid -> (fred, george)

2 options:

 setuid rule embedded within the cap making it a limited cap
   capability setuid (fred, george),  remains backwards compat

setuid binaries fscap binaries

Network rules

 AppArmor 2.3 - AppArmor 2.6
   <rule qualifier> ::= [('audit'|'quiet')] [('deny)]
   <rule> ::= [ <rule qualifier> ] 'network' [ <domain> ] (<type> | <protocol)
 AppArmor 3.0
   <rule qualifier> ::= [('audit'|'quiet')] [('deny'|'kill'|'nokill')]
   <rule> ::= [ <rule qualifier> ] 'network' [ <permissions> ] [ <domain> ] [ <type> ] [ <protocol> [ <address_expr> ] ] [ delegate ]','

???? Finish out permissions, network labeling, connection tracking ????

AppArmor network rules provide a flexible profile centric approach to creating a firewall. The network rules are flexible in that they provide both control over creation of sockets, flow of data (packets), and can stand alone or be integrated with the system firewall.

The majority of the rule components are optional, with the fewer components specified making the rule more generic. The most generic networking rules are:

 network,        #allow all networking
 deny network,   #disallow all networking

The rule qualifiers modify network rules in the same manner that they are applied to file rules, ie. denied rules take precedence over allow rules and will both subtract permissions and quiet auditing.

network permissions

 <permissions> = 'create' 'accept' 'bind' 'connect' 'listen' 'read' 'write' 'send' 'receive' 'getsockname' 'getpeername' 'getsockopt' 'setsockopt' 'fcntl' 'ioctl' 'shutdown' 'getpeersec'

The permissions specify what operations are allowed on the network socket, and also are used to determine semantically what other parts of the network rule are allowed, and how they apply. If the permission set is not specified the full set is implicitly granted. Eg.

 network inet,

will grant all permissions for sockets in the inet domain. If the full wide permission set is not desired then the desired permissions can be specified, or a deny rule can be used to subtract a certain permissions from another rule.

 network (read, write) inet,
 deny network bind inet,
  • create - permission to create a socket of the domain, type, protocol specified.
  • shutdown - permission to shutdown the socket.
  • listen[=X] - permission to listen on a socket of the domain, type, protocl specified. If the optional backlog parameter is specified it limits the maximum size that can be pasted to listen.
  • bind - permission to bind to an address that matches the source address expression. If no source address is specified it will bind to any address.
  • connect - permission to connect the socket to an address that matches the dest address expression. If the destination address is not specified it can connect to any address.
  • accept - permission to accept connections from an address that matches the dest address expression. If the desitionation address is not specified connections from any address may be accepted.
  • read/receive - permission to read/receive packets and data from the dest address on the source address
  • write/send - permission to write/send packets and data from the source the source address to the dest address
  • getname - permission to get the lock name (address) of the socket
  • getpeer - permission to get the remote address (name) of the socket
  • setopt - permission to set socket options


 <domain> ::= 'inet' | 'ax25' | 'ipx' | 'appletalk' | 'netrom' | 'bridge' | 'atmpvc" |
              'x25' | 'inet6' | 'rose' | 'netbeui' | 'security' | 'key' | 'packet' | 'ash' |
              'econet' | 'atmsvc' | 'sna' | 'irda' | 'pppox' | 'wanpipe' | 'bluetooth'

The actually set of domain names is growing and ??? should be consulted for a complete updated list

In some cases the domain does not need to be specified and it is implied by the type, protocol, or addressing.

  network tcp,
  network inet stream,
  network inet6 stream,


 <type> ::= 'stream' | 'dgram' | 'seqpacket' | 'raw' | 'rdm' | 'packet' | 'dccp'

The allowed types for a network are the same as used in the socket system call. And what is supported can vary depending by the domain (a domain does not have to implement them all, eg. inet does not implement seqpacket).

Some types may require permission other than the network rule. For example the 'raw' type will also require the cap_raw capability.

In some cases the type does not need to be specified as it is implied by the protocol and or addressing. When this happens the rule matches all types implied by the protocol and or addressing.

  network inet tcp,
  network inet stream,

The exact mappings will depend on what is supported by the apparmor tools. Please see ??? for more details.


<protocol> := 'tcp' | 'udp' | 'icmp' | ..

The protocols that can appear in a rule will be dependent on the domain and types of the rules as well as the current set of protocolos understood by AppArmor. The known protocols can be used to imply domain and type.

address expr

<address_expr> ::= [('source'|'src') <domain_addr> ['on' <iface>]] [('destination'|'dst' <domain_addr>]
<domain_addr> ::= (<ipv4_addr> | <ipv6_addr> | ..)

The address expression is dependent on the domain of the socket. Generic rules that cover more than a single domain may not even be able to contain an address expression, in these cases if an address expression is needed the rule should be broken up into multiple rules.

 network tcp src dst,
ipv4 address expressions
 <ipv4_addr> ::= [<ipv4_??>['/'(<ipv_??>|<num>)]][':'<ports>]
 <ipv4_??> ::= <??_expr>'.'<??_expr>'.'<??_expr>'.'<??_expr>
 <??_expr> ::= (<num>|<range>|'*')
 <ports> ::= (<num>|<range>)(','<num>|<range>])*
 <range> ::= <num> '-' <num>

?? Examples,81,81,100-200

The following ipv4 address expressions are equivalent

 the masking and ranging can also be specified for internal ???

address masks




port ranges

hrmm how to specify addresses? Masking, allow full regexs, address ranges

Integrating with system fire falls

The implementation of AppArmor network rules is broken into three parts, the mediation of sockets, the labeling of packets, and the mediation of packets. When AppArmor compiles policy it splits network rules into these three separate parts.

The mediation of sockets, and packets is handled entirely within the AppArmor mediation engine, the labeling of packets is however handled by linux's iptables using secmark and connsecmark.

By default AppArmor will create an iptable with the appropriate labeling for AppArmor policy from the set of system network rules, so that policy does not need to be split between iptables and AppArmor profiles. However there is nothing stopping a user from handling labeling in iptables.

??? need to let apparmor know that the reserved labels exist ??? need to write rules that use the labels, most likely ipc rules

Note: about AppArmor 2.3 - 2.6 network rules

The network rules for the earlier versions of AppArmor are semantically and syntactically compatible, they just have fewer options available.

The permission set is always implied to be the full permission set as is the case with AppArmor 3.0 rules when permissions are not specified. Also the protocol can only be expressed if the type isn't; eg. it is not possible to specify network inet raw tcp,. The protocol is only used in its convenience form to imply the type, ie. network inet tcp, implies network inet stream,.

There is one semantic change, in AppArmor 2.3 - AppArmor 2.6 sockets opened by an unconfined process could not be delegated to a confined process, they had to be revalidated. This was inconsistent with the behavior for files. In AppArmor 3.0 ?????


??? Talk about rule combining eg. deny subtracting in more detail ??? Talk about aliases and mapping (tcp short cut)

 network tcp connect from on iface1 to,

connection tracking and label

audit, quiet, deny, kill, nokill? owner and conditional

rule = "network" [ [ <domain> ] [ <type> ] [ <protocol> ]

                         [ <proto_expr> ] ] ","

domain = "inet" | "ax25" | "ipx" | "appletalk" | "netrom" |

             "bridge" | "atmpvc" | "x25" | "inet6" | "rose" |
             "netbeui" | "security" | "key" | "packet" | "ash" |
             "econet" | "atmsvc" | "sna" | "irda" | "pppox" |
             "wanpipe" | "bluetooth"
   *note: "unix", "local" and "netlink" are not allowed

type = "stream" | "dgram" | "seqpacket" | "rdm" | "raw" | "packet" |


protocol = "tcp" | "udp" | "icmp" | "ftp" | ... proto_expr = <ip_expr> | ... ip_expr = [ <ip_action> ] [ <ip_host_expr> ] [ <ip_expr_tail> ] ip_action = <tcp_action> | <udp_action> tcp_action = "connect" | "accept" | "connected" udp_action = ( "send" | "recv" ) [ "&" <udp_action> ] ip host_expr = <direction> <ip_expr> direction = "to" | "from" | "local" | "remote" | "endpoint" ip_expr = <ipv4_expr> | <ipv6_expr> ip_expr_tail= ( <ip_iface | <limit> | "conntrack")* ipv4_expr = <ipv4_addr> [ ":" <port_expr> ] ipv4_addr = <ipv4_quad> | (<ipv4_quad> "/" <ipv4_quad>) |

             (ipv4_quad "/" DIGIT{1,2}

ipv4_quad = DIGIT{1,3} ("." DIGIT{1,3}){3,3} ipv6_expr = "[" <ipv6_addr> "]" [ ":" <port_expr> ] ipv6_addr = <ipv6_part> [ "/" 1*2DIGIT ] ipv6_part = <hexseq> / <hexseq> "::" [ <hexseq> ] | "::" [ <hexseq> ] hexseq = hex4 ( ":" hex4)* hex4 = HEXDIG{1,4} port_expr = DIGIT{1,5} [ "-" DIGIT{1,5} ] iface = "via" REGEXP limit = "limit" DIGIT+ ["b" / "B" / "k" / "K" / "m" / "M"]

Currently we only support

rule = "network" [ [ <domain> ] [ <type> ] [ <protocol> ] ","

where protocol is limited to "tcp", "udp", "icmp" and can only be specified if one of <domain> or <type> is not. NOTE: when protocols are specified with out type or domain the matching

     code makes certain assumption and does mapping.  See tcp and udp
     examples below.


network inet stream, # allow inet stream == tcp network inet raw, network inet tcp, # allow inet stream == tcp, NOT inet raw tcp network inet udp, # allow inet dgram == udp, NOT inet raw udp network inet, # allow all inet type and protocols network tcp, # allow all family's that support tcp, so

                       # currently this matches both inet, and inet6
                       # ie.
                       # network inet stream,
                       # network inet6 stream,
                       # BUT NOT
                       # network inet raw tcp,
                       # network inet6 raw tcp,

network, # allow any and all networking

should be connected be supported or should it be handled by fd delegation

DBUS rules

The policy rules are designed similar to the networking rules. To allow all dbus messages, acquiring of service names etc. you just need the rule


While the rule

 dbus bus=system acquire,

Is very specific in stating that the profile is allow to acquire the service name on the system bus. The policy format currently supported is as follows

 ['audit'] ['deny'] dbus [bus='system'|'session'] ['dest='<address>] ['path='<path>] ['interface='<interface>] ['method='<method>] [<perms>] ','
 <perms> := <perm> | '(' (<perm> ','|[\w]) <perm> ')'
 <perm> := r, w, rw, send, receive, acquire, bind, read, write

For the permissions r maps to read which maps to receive, w maps to write which maps to send, bind maps to acquire

The ordering is currently important but in the future it could be more flexible as most components are named if they are specified. If any component is left off a rule then it will match everything of that type. ie.


will allow sending messages to, receiving messages from, and acquiring the service name on both the session and system buses.

 dbus bus=system w,

allows sending messages too on the system bus. Which can also be expressed as

 dbus bus=system send,

Any single permission is allow to be specified by it self, but if more than one permission is specified it must appear in a list similar to the flags format.

 dbus bus=system (send, receive),

The commas within the parenthesis are optional, plain whitespace delimitation works just as well. The only exception the paren rule for multiple permissions is rw, which can be used outside of or inside of parens.

Note it is legal to specify

 dbus bus=system (rw, send receive),

A few more examples of valid rules

 deny dbus bus=system path="/foo /bar" method=fred rw,
 dbus path=/foo/bar (send receive),
 dbus acquire,

Now that the basis of the current policy is out of the way we can not a couple of things. 1. Current policy doesn't allow specifying a local and a remote, and I am not sure I can see a case where it makes sense to do so. The address is mapped to both local and remote. ie.

    dbus rw,

means allow receiving messages from, and sending messages to

Generally it would be good practice to split up dbus rules when addresses and or permissions are specified. And we may consider enforcing such a rule.


mapping to everything makes sense. But the dbus case is a little confusing if you think about it and throwing bind/acquire into the mix just makes it worse.

2. acquire/bind only apply the dest= expression, which makes including it in rules with path, interface, and method information illegal. Acquire must be used in a separate rule or the parser will throw an error.

3. addresses, paths, interfaces and methods support apparmor regexs, so don't forget to escape special characters.

4. addresses, paths, interfaces, and methods can all be quoted.

5. The profile= flag is not currently supported, which means you can't specify the target profile of the communication.

 dbus profile=/foo/bar,   #only allow communicating of task confined by /foo/bar

This is planned for just not implemented yet.

IPC rules

audit, quiet, deny, kill owner and conditional

AppArmor ipc rules cover a broad range of ipc behaviors, and like networking rules can be very generic or tailored to a specific form of ipc. At its base IPC rules are concerned with which profiles can shared data.

 ipc with profile1,



- inherited and allowed via implicit delegation


- mediated by file control, could do with better create control

System V ipc

    message queues
    Shared memory segments


Delegation is a special form of ipc that allows a profile to delegates it authority to access an object to another profile. This enables a parent profile to extend the permission a child profile has to include specific objects that the parent has access to.

Delegation allows for tighter profiles (stricter profiles), children profiles don't need to have access rights object they may receive from their parent, while at the same time allows for greater flexibility and reuse of profiles as it is possible to use one tight profile in multiple situations.

Delegation is cumulative like other rule permissions and can be specified by either using a rule suffix, or a rule block. Eg.

 rw /example/file delegate to profile1,
 network tcp delegates to profile2,
 delegate to profile3 {
   rw /example/file,
   network tcp,
   network udp delegate to profile4,   # delegate to profile3 and profile4

It is important to note that delegation only works on objects opened and passed by the parent profile. It does not extend the target profiles ruleset.

Revalidation - Interaction of IPC with other rules

Ipc rule interact with file and network rules so it is important to understand how they interact. When a file or network object is being created, or opened the file or network rules are applied, creating a labeling on the opened resouce (object). When data, an open file or network object is passed between tasks ipc rules are applied, to determine if the data or object can be passed. However if there is not an ipc rule governing the interaction (either positive or negative) then AppArmor will fall back to revalidation.

Revalidation is the process by which AppArmor looks at the resource and recomputes its access permissions, answering whether the task receiving the object can access it, because its base permission set allows it.

Revalidation is used because AppArmor's set of labels is dynamic and changes as profiles are loaded or removed.

Interaction of IPC with file rules

The interaction of files and ipc

what of labeled files???

Interaction of IPC and network rules

Network and IPC rule interaction is similar to that of file rules.

IPC and labeled network packets

When network rules are marked as belonging to a secure connection, packet labeling is used and IPC rules will determine the access permissions for packet data. This is done by leveraging CIPSO, it is assumed the network is secured in someway (LAN, vLAN, ..) and that applications are correctly confined, using a common confinement for all machines in the network.

When a packet is set it is labeled with the specified label and that label is then used to determine access permission on the receiving end.

Resource controls

 AppArmor provides to forms of resource control, the rlimit rules to control per process resources, and profile level resource controls to control groups of processes contained by a profile.

Rlimit rules

 <rlimit rule> ::= 'rlimit' <rlimit> '<=' <value> ','  (AppArmor 2.3 - AppArmor 2.6)
 <rlimit rule> ::= 'rlimit' [<rlimit> '<=' <value> ] ','  (AppArmor 2.7)
 <rlimit rule> ::= 'rlimit' [<rlimit> '<=' <value> ] ['profile' <profile>] ','  (AppArmor ???)

AppArmor provides the ability for a profile to set and control an applications rlimits (man 2 setrlimit) also known as ulimits (man 3 ulimit, man 1 ulimit). By default AppArmor does not control applications rlimits, and it will only control those limits that there is a specific rule for in the confining profile.

AppArmor leverages linux's rlimits and as such does not provide an additional auditing than would normally occur. Also AppArmor's rlimits only every reduce an applications current rlimits, they can not be used to raise the value of any limit that has been set.

AppArmor rlimit rules are currently limited in that the limit's value will be inherited by a processes children and will remain even if a new profile is transitioned to, or the application becomes unconfined. If an application transitions to a new profile, the new profile can control and further reduce the applications rlimits.

AppArmor's rlimit rules also mediate setting an applications hard limits, should it try to raise them. The application will not be able to raise its hard limits any farther than specified in the profile.

The mediation of raising hard limits is not inherited as the limit value is, so that once the application transitions to a new profile it is free to raise its limits value as if allowed by the new profile.

AppArmor's rlimit control does not affect an applications soft limits beyond ensuring that they are less than or equal to the applications hard limits.

Audit of rlimits only happend when a task tries to set its rlimits, as the enforcement of the rlimit is not done by AppArmor.

AppArmor 2.7 adds the ability to control the setting of rlimits with out specifying a value. This prevents the task from changing the rlimits it has inherited.

AppArmor ??? adds the ability to control the rlimits of a task confined by another profile.

The allowable values for <rlimit> and the its associated <value> field is described below. <rlimit>

  • fsize, data, stack, core, rss, as, memlock, msgqueue:
 These rlimits take either a number in bytes, or a number with a suffix where the suffix can be
 K - kilobytes
 M - megabytes
 G - gigabytes
rlimit data <= 100M,
  • nofile, locks, sigpending, nproc, rtprio, cpu (cpu is only supported in AppArmor 2.7+)
 These rlimits take a number greater or equal to 0 indicating their limit.
  • nice
 The nice rlimit takes a value between -20 and 19.


  • Rlimit rules first appeared in AppArmor 2.3
  • In AppArmor 2.3 - 2.7 The set limit's value will be inherited by a processes children and will remain even if a new profile is transitioned to, or the application becomes unconfined.
  • Qualifiers (audit, quiet, ..) are currently not supported
  • AppArmor handles nproc in version 2.3 and 2.4 and later on differently
  • currently the tools can not be used to add rlimit rules to profiles. The only way to add rlimit controls to a profile is manually edit the profile with a text editor. The tools will still work with profiles containing rlimit rules and will not remove them, so it is safe to use the tools to update profiles containing them.}}

Special nproc rlimit for AppArmor 2.3

In AppArmor 2.3 the nproc rlimit is special in that it is handled different than all the other rlimits. Instead of indicating the standard process rlimit it controls the maximum number of processes that can be running under the profile at any given time. Once the limit is exceeded the creation of new processes under the profile will fail until the number of currently running processes is reduced.

The AppArmor 2.3 interpretation is no longer used in later versions of AppArmor due to technical changes. The AppArmor per profile nproc of AppArmor 2.3 has been replaced by profile resources based on cgroups in AppArmor 2.7+.

Profile based resource controls

The AppArmor profile resource controls provide a way to control the resources of all process contained by a profile. To do this apparmor creates a linux container for each profile that specifies a resource control and then domain transitions also can transition a process into another container.


Change profile

audit, quiet, deny, kill, nokill? owner - implicit


File creation semantics have been changed slightly so that the append permission provides sufficient privilege to create a new file.


The change_profile interface has been extended so that it can be used by an unconfined process to enter confinement. An unconfined process using change_profile can enter any loaded profile. For unconfined processes the change_profile interface differs from the set_profile interface in that it only applies to the current task while the set_profile interface can be used to change confinement on any task.

Trusted Helpers

Beyond the core enforcement done by the AppArmor kernel module, some system daemons/helpers can be built with AppArmor extensions that provide additional mediation. The details of how a helper is configured and how it affects policy


['audit'] ['deny'] dbus ['system'|'session'] [['address=']<address>] ['path='<path>] ['interface='<interface>] ['method='<method>] [<perms>] ',' <perms> := <perm> | '(' (<perm> ','|[\w]) <perm> ')' <perm> := r, w, rw, send, receive, acquire, bind, read, write

X Windows

Postgres Sql

Pam apparmor

Apache modapparmor

Extententions to Profile Specification

New execute permissions

Named Profile Transitions and Log Messages

Named profile transitions show up in the log as having the mode Nx and the name of the profile to be changed to is in the name2 field.

File rules conditional on file ownership

AppArmor 2.3 extends file rules so that they can be conditional upon the the user being the owner of the file.

Application directed transitions - Change Hat & Change Profile

AppArmor provides a for application directed profile transition via change_hat and change_profile. Change_profile provides for a generic one way transition between any of the loaded profiles, while change_hat provides for a returnable parent, child transition.


  • Application must be confined
  • special local profiles called hats are the only profiles available for transition
  • change of domain takes place immediately


  • can be used by unconfined or confined applications
  • confined applications need rules to control which profiles may be transitioned to

change_profile on exec

  • conveneience form of change_profile
  • profile transition is delayed until exec time
    • equivalent to change_profile + stubprofile with px rule to destination
  • overrides x rules
  • elminates the need for stub profiles

confined vs. unconfined

 /bin/su {
    ^tom {
       /bin/bash px -> confined_user,
    ^jane {
       /bin/bash px -> confined_user,

 /bin/su {
     change_profile stub,
 stub {
     /bin/bash px -> confined_user,

 change_profile on exec
 /bin/su {
    change_profile /bin/bash -> confined_user,

Change_hat and Change_profile rules

The change_profile interface has been extended so that it can be used by an unconfined process to enter confinement. An unconfined process using change_profile can enter any loaded profile. For unconfined processes the change_profile interface differs from the set_profile interface in that it only applies to the current task while the set_profile interface can be used to change confinement on any task.

An embedded hat, implicitly adds the change_hat rule to the profile as well as all the sibling hats.

Change_profile rules are similar except that they start with the keyword change_profile.


 change_profile a_profile,

Differences between change_hat and change_profile

Both change_hat and change_profile provide for an application directed profile transition, without having to launch a separate application.

Change_profile provides a generic one way transition between any of the loaded profiles. Change_hat provides for a returnable parent child transition where an application can switch from the parent profile to the hat profile and if it provides the correct secret key return to the parent profile at a later time.

Safety of Domain transitions and when to use them

The change_hat and change_profile domain transitions are less secure than a domain transition done through an exec. This is because they do not affect a processes memory mappings, nor do they close resources that have already been opened.

Change_hat is a specialized version of change_profile that has additional security implications, so we will look at change_profile first.

Change_profile provides a one way transition, that allows an application to go through a setup phase and then when setup is done, transition to a profile with less privledge. Any resources mapped or opened during the startup phase may still be accessible after the profile change but the new profile will restrict the opening of new resources, and will even limit some of the resources opened before the switch.

Specifically memory resources will still be available while capability and file resources (as long as they are not memory mapped) can be limited.

Change_profile is best used in situations where an application goes through a trusted setup phase and then can lower its privlege level.

Change_hat is designed to be used in situations where privlege is temporarily dropped and then reaquired after a time. As such change_hat is restricted to where it can be safely used. Since change_hat stores the return secret key in the applications memory the phase of reduced privilege should not have direct access to memory. Also it is important that file access is properly separated, the hat can restrict accesses to a file handle but it does not close it. If an application does buffering and provides access to the open files with buffering, the accesses to these files may not be seen by the kernel and hence not restricted by the new profile.

Change_hat is best used in situations where an applications runs a VM or interpreter that does not provide direct access to the applications resources. An example of where it could add security value is apache's mod_perl and mod_php.