Comparing Linux distribution’s hardening schemes

In this post, we explore the adoption of Linux hardening schemes across five popular distributions by examining their out-of-the-box properties. For each distribution, we analyzed its default kernel configuration, downloaded all its packages, and analyzed the hardening schemes of their enclosed binaries. Our dataset includes the OpenSUSE 12.4, Debian 9, CentOS and RHEL 6.10 & 7 distributions, as well as the Ubuntu 14.04, 12.04, and 18.04 LTS distributions. Our findings confirm that even basic hardening schemes, such as stack canaries and position independent code, are not fully adopted. The situation is even worse when it comes to other compiler protections like stack clash hardening, which recently came into the spotlight due to last month’s systemd vulnerabilities. However, not all is hopeless.[…]

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