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FreeBSD Security Information


This web page is designed to assist both new and experienced users in the area of FreeBSD security. FreeBSD takes security very seriously and is constantly working on making the OS as secure as possible.

Here you will find additional information, or links to information, on how to protect your system against various types of attack, on whom to contact if you find a security-related bug, and so on. There is also a section on the various ways that the systems programmer can become more security conscious so that he is less likely to introduce vulnerabilities.

Table of Contents

All FreeBSD Security issues should be reported to the FreeBSD Security Team or, if a higher level of confidentiality is required, to the Security Officer Team. All reports should at least contain:

  • A description of the vulnerability.
  • What versions of FreeBSD seem to be affected if possible.
  • Any plausible workaround.
  • Example code if possible.

After this information has been reported the Security Officer or a Security Team delegate will get back with you.

The FreeBSD Security Officer and the Security Officer Team

To better coordinate information exchange with others in the security community, FreeBSD has a focal point for security-related communications: the FreeBSD Security Officer.

If you need to contact the FreeBSD Project about a possible security issue, you should therefore send mail to the Security Officer with a description of what you have found and the type of vulnerability it represents.

In order that the FreeBSD Project may respond to vulnerability reports in a timely manner, there are four members of the Security Officer mail alias: the Security Officer, Security Officer Emeritus, Deputy Security Officer, and one Core Team member. Therefore, messages sent to the <> mail alias are currently delivered to:

Colin Percival <> Security Officer
Jacques Vidrine <> Security Officer Emeritus
Simon L. Nielsen <> Deputy Security Officer
Robert Watson <> FreeBSD Core Team liaison, Release Engineering liaison,
TrustedBSD Project liaison, system security architecture expert

The Security Officer is supported by the FreeBSD Security Team <>, a small group of committers vetted by the Security Officer.

Please use the Security Officer PGP key to encrypt your messages to the Security Officer when appropriate.

Information handling policies

As a general policy, the FreeBSD Security Officer favors full disclosure of vulnerability information after a reasonable delay to permit safe analysis and correction of a vulnerability, as well as appropriate testing of the correction, and appropriate coordination with other affected parties.

The Security Officer will notify one or more of the FreeBSD Cluster Admins of vulnerabilities that put the FreeBSD Project's resources under immediate danger.

The Security Officer may bring additional FreeBSD developers or outside developers into discussion of a submitted security vulnerability if their expertise is required to fully understand or correct the problem. Appropriate discretion will be exercised to minimize unnecessary distribution of information about the submitted vulnerability, and any experts brought in will act in accordance of Security Officer policies. In the past, experts have been brought in based on extensive experience with highly complex components of the operating system, including FFS, the VM system, and the network stack.

If a FreeBSD release process is underway, the FreeBSD Release Engineer may also be notified that a vulnerability exists, and its severity, so that informed decisions may be made regarding the release cycle and any serious security bugs present in software associated with an up-coming release. If requested, the Security Officer will not share information regarding the nature of the vulnerability with the Release Engineer, limiting information flow to existence and severity.

The FreeBSD Security Officer has close working relationships with a number of other organizations, including third-party vendors that share code with FreeBSD (the OpenBSD, NetBSD and DragonFlyBSD projects, Apple, and other vendors deriving software from FreeBSD, as well as the Linux vendor security list), as well as organizations that track vulnerabilities and security incidents, such as CERT. Frequently vulnerabilities may extend beyond the scope of the FreeBSD implementation, and (perhaps less frequently) may have broad implications for the global networking community. Under such circumstances, the Security Officer may wish to disclose vulnerability information to these other organizations: if you do not wish the Security Officer to do this, please indicate so explicitly in any submissions.

Submitters should be careful to explicitly document any special information handling requirements.

If the submitter of a vulnerability is interested in a coordinated disclosure process with the submitter and/or other vendors, this should be indicated explicitly in any submissions. In the absence of explicit requests, the FreeBSD Security Officer will select a disclosure schedule that reflects both a desire for timely disclosure and appropriate testing of any solutions. Submitters should be aware that if the vulnerability is being actively discussed in public forums (such as bugtraq), and actively exploited, the Security Officer may choose not to follow a proposed disclosure timeline in order to provide maximum protection for the user community.

Submissions may be protected using PGP. If desired, responses will also be protected using PGP.

FreeBSD Security Advisories

The FreeBSD Security Officer provides security advisories for several branches of FreeBSD development. These are the -STABLE Branches and the Security Branches. (Advisories are not issued for the -CURRENT Branch.)

  • There is usually only a single -STABLE branch, although during the transition from one major development line to another (such as from FreeBSD 5.x to 6.x), there is a time span in which there are two -STABLE branches. The -STABLE branch tags have names like RELENG_6. The corresponding builds have names like FreeBSD 6.1-STABLE.

  • Each FreeBSD Release has an associated Security Branch. The Security Branch tags have names like RELENG_6_1. The corresponding builds have names like FreeBSD 6.1-RELEASE-p1.

Issues affecting the FreeBSD Ports Collection are covered in the FreeBSD VuXML document.

Each branch is supported by the Security Officer for a limited time only, and is designated as one of `Early adopter', `Normal', or `Extended'. The designation is used as a guideline for determining the lifetime of the branch as follows.

Early adopter
Releases which are published from the -CURRENT branch will be supported by the Security Officer for a minimum of 6 months after the release.
Releases which are published from a -STABLE branch will be supported by the Security Officer for a minimum of 12 months after the release.
Selected releases will be supported by the Security Officer for a minimum of 24 months after the release.

The current designation and estimated lifetimes of the currently supported branches are given below. The Estimated EoL (end-of-life) column gives the earliest date on which that branch is likely to be dropped. Please note that these dates may be extended into the future, but only extenuating circumstances would lead to a branch's support being dropped earlier than the date listed.

Branch Release Type Release Date Estimated EoL
RELENG_5 n/a n/a n/a May 31, 2008
RELENG_5_5 5.5-RELEASE Extended May 25, 2006 May 31, 2008
RELENG_6 n/a n/a n/a last release + 2 years
RELENG_6_1 6.1-RELEASE Extended May 9, 2006 May 31, 2008
RELENG_6_2 6.2-RELEASE Normal January 15, 2007 January 31, 2008

Older releases are not maintained and users are strongly encouraged to upgrade to one of the supported releases mentioned above.

Some statistics about advisories released during 2002:

  • 44 advisories of varying severity were issued for the base system.
  • 12 advisories described vulnerabilities found only in FreeBSD. The remaining 32 were problems shared with at least one other OS (often due to shared code).
  • 6 security notices were issued, covering a total of 95 issues in optional third party applications included in the Ports Collection.

Advisories are sent to the following FreeBSD mailing lists:


Advisories are always signed using the FreeBSD Security Officer PGP key and are archived, along with their associated patches, at our FTP CERT repository. At the time of this writing, the following advisories are currently available (note that this list may be a few days out of date - for the very latest advisories please check the FTP site):

FreeBSD 6.2-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 5.5-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 6.1-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 6.0-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 5.4-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 4.11-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 5.3-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 4.10-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 5.2.1-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 5.2-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 4.9-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 5.1-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 4.8-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 5.0-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 4.7-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 4.6.2-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 4.6-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 4.5-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 4.4-RELEASE released.

FreeBSD 4.3-RELEASE released.