What is grsecurity?

Grsecurity is an extensive security enhancement to the Linux kernel, touching nearly 2000 files and composed of over 60,000 lines of changes. It has been actively developed and maintained for the past 13 years. Grsecurity defends against a wide range of security threats through intelligent access control, memory corruption-based exploit prevention, and a host of other system hardening that generally require no configuration.

Defends against zero-day

Only grsecurity provides protection against zero-day and other advanced threats that buys administrators valuable time while vulnerability fixes make their way out to distributions and production testing. This is made possible by our focus on eliminating entire bug classes and exploit vectors, rather than the status-quo elimination of individual vulnerabilities.

Mitigates shared-host/container weaknesses

In any kind of shared computing environment, whether it be simple UID separation, OpenVZ, LXC, or Linux-VServer, the most common and often easiest method of full system compromise is through kernel exploitation. No other software exists to mitigate this weakness while maintaining usability and performance.

Goes beyond access control

Unlike the LSMs you're used to, grsecurity tackles a wider scope of security problems. While access control has its place, it is incapable of dealing with many real-life security issues, especially in webhosting environments where an attacker can fraudulently purchase local access to the system. To see what you're missing out on by relying on just access control, see our feature comparison matrix.

A major component of grsecurity is its approach to memory corruption vulnerabilities and their associated exploit vectors. Through partnership with the PaX project, creators of ASLR and many other exploit prevention techniques -- some now imitated by Microsoft and Apple, grsecurity makes many attacks technically and economically infeasible by introducing unpredictability and complexity to attempted attacks, while actively responding in ways that deny the attacker another chance.

Integrates with your existing distribution

Grsecurity confines its changes to the Linux kernel itself, making it possible to use with any distribution or device: embedded, server, or desktop. Use your existing distribution's kernel configuration if you wish and answer a simple series of questions about your use case to optimally configure grsecurity automatically. X86, ARM, or MIPS -- grsecurity has been developed for and used on them all and many more.

Has a proven track record

Grsecurity has been developed and maintained since 2001, from the very first 2.4 Linux kernel to the latest and greatest 3.x. In addition to tracking the latest stable kernel, we provide a stable 3.2 kernel with additional security backports.

We stay on top of -- and in many cases drive -- the state of the art in security research. While the security teams of Linux distributions react to the latest widespread exploit simply by fixing the associated vulnerability, we quickly work in addition to close down any new exploit vectors, reduce the chance of similar vulnerabilities, and insert additional roadblocks for ancillary techniques that made the exploit possible or reliable.

As a result of this extensive approach, it is not uncommon to find in the event of a published exploit, particularly against the kernel, that the exploit's success is prevented by several separate features of grsecurity.