Deviations & Special Notes

Deviations & Special Notes

The Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) provides over 200 controls to secure a Linux system, but some of these configurations can cause problems with production environments.

Reviewing deviations

The openstack-ansible-security role deviates from some of the STIG’s requirements when a security control could cause significant issues with production systems. The role classifies each control into an implementation status and provides notes on why a certain control is skipped or altered.

The following provides a brief overview of each implementation status:

If a control requires manual intervention outside the host, or if it could cause significant harm to a host, it will be skipped and listed as an exception. All controls in this category are not implemented in Ansible.
Configuration Required
These controls require some type of initial configuration before they can be applied. Review the notes for each control to determine how to configure each of them.
These controls are fully implemented and they may have configurations which can be adjusted. The notes for each control will identify which configuration options are available.
The controls in the opt-in list are implemented in Ansible, but are disabled by default. They are often disabled because they could cause harm to a subset of systems. Each control has notes that explains the caveats of the control and how to enable it if needed.

Deployers should review the full list of controls sorted by implementation status.


All of the default configurations are found within defaults/main.yml.

AIDE initialization

The STIG sets requirements for integrity monitoring of the system and the role will install AIDE to meet these requirements.

By default AIDE will examine and monitor all of the files on a host unless directories are added to its exclusion list. The security role sets directories to exclude from AIDE monitoring via the aide_exclude_dirs variable. this list excludes the most common directories that change very often via automated methods.

Even with the excluded directories, the first AIDE initialization can take a long time on some systems. During this time, the CPU and disks are very busy.

The security role will skip the AIDE initialization step by default. Deployers must set the following Ansible variable to initialize the database:

security_rhel7_initialize_aide: true


The audit daemon (auditd) is required by the STIG and it provides useful logging of critical events on a Linux server. The audit daemon monitors syscalls on a Linux system and logs alerts based on sets of auditing rules.

Rules for auditd

Each set of rules is controlled by Ansible variables that begin with security_audit__rhel7. To omit a set of rules on a host, set the variable to no. To include a set of rules on a host, set the variable to yes.

For example, setting security_rhel7_audit_mount to yes will ensure that the rules for auditing filesystem mounts are included on each host. Setting security_rhel7_audit_mount to no will omit that group of rules on each host.

To review the full list of rules and variables, refer to templates/osas-auditd-rhel7.j2.

Handling audit emergencies

There are several configurations for auditd which are critical for deployers to review in detail. The options beneath the ## Audit daemon (auditd) comment will change how auditd handles log files and what it should do in case of emergencies.


Some of these configuration options can cause serious issues on production systems, ranging from a reduction in security to servers going offline unexpectedly. There is extensive documentation in the developer notes for each STIG requirement.

Linux Security Modules (LSM)

The STIG requires that SELinux is in enforcing mode to provide additional security against attacks. The security role will enable SELinux on CentOS systems and enable AppArmor on Ubuntu systems.

For more information on how these changes are applied, refer to the documentation for RHEL-07-020210.

SSH server

The STIG has some requirements for ssh server configuration and these requirements are applied by default by the role. To opt-out or change these requirements, see the section under the ## ssh server (sshd) comment in defaults/main.yml.

Deviation for PermitRootLogin

There is one deviation from the STIG for the PermitRootLogin configuration option. The STIG requires that direct root logins are disabled, and this is the recommended setting for secure production environments.

However, this can cause problems in some existing environments and the default for the role is to set it to yes (direct root logins allowed).

Time synchronization

Reliable time synchronization is a requirement in the STIG and the chrony package will be installed to handle NTP for systems secured with the openstack-ansible-security role.

The default settings will work for most environments, but some deployers may prefer to use NTP servers which are geographically closer to their servers.

The role configures the chrony daemon to listen only on localhost. To allow chrony to listen on all addresses (the upstream default for chrony), set the security_ntp_bind_local_interfaces_only variable to False.

The default configuration allows RFC1918 addresses to reach the NTP server running on each host. That could be changed by using the security_allowed_ntp_subnets parameter.

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