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Lib Wayland Security Modules

LibWSM is a framework that supports security decision making on Wayland-based graphic stacks. It implements methods for expressing security decisions on privileged interfaces and an interface for security engineers to write backends. It is shipped with a default backend that allows per-user and per-application security policies. Those policies can be extended without limits to support per-compositor decisions, compositor-specific capabilities and even custom security decisions.

This project was designed and developed by Martin Peres and Steve Dodier-Lazaro. It is maintained by Martin Peres. The code is hosted on GitHub.

Sources of policy

When a policy is not set for a client;capability;object set, libWSM will soft-deny actions. If policies are available, the default backend will take them into account in the following order from top to bottom:

  • The policy that matches the client's executable and uid
  • The system-wide policy that matches the client's executable
  • The generic policy that matches the client's uid
  • The system-wide generic policy for all clients
  • Soft Deny if no policy is available

Backends can give four recommendations by default:

  • Allow: the policy allows the action to be performed. It is recommended to allow the action.
  • Soft allow: there probably is nothing wrong, but attacks could be carried out. It is recommended to provide feedback to the user about the action being performed.
  • Soft deny: the requesting app has not obtained the permission to perform the action. It is recommended to seek an alternative way to provide permission if desired (e.g., trusted UIs or permission prompt)
  • Deny: the action has been explicitly written as denied in the policy. It is recommended to follow the policy and deny the action without alternative.

Other permissions can be defined. As a rule of thumb, when a compositor does not recognise a permission, ‘Deny’ should be followed.

Capabilities related to the Graphic Stack

The following capabilities are made available. default: indicates what the default policy shipped with the default backend states.

WSM_SCREENSHOT default: soft-deny Ability to take a still screenshot of the whole screen

WSM_SCREENSHARING default: soft-deny Ability to record the screen continuously

WSM_VIRTUAL_KEYBOARD allow/inject-only/filter-only/soft-allow/soft-deny/deny default: soft-deny Ability to inject or filter input on the keyboard

WSM_VIRTUAL_POINTING default: soft-deny Ability to modify the position of the pointer and simulate clicks

WSM_GLOBAL_KEYBOARD_SEQUENCE object: key sequence default: soft-deny Ability to receive global keyboard sequences when not on focus

WSM_FORWARD_RESERVED_KEYBOARD_SEQUENCE object: key sequence default: soft-deny Ability to receive reserved keyboard sequences instead of compositor when on focus

WSM_FULLSCREEN default: soft-allow Ability to use the entire screen

WSM_CLIPBOARD_COPY default: allow Ability to copy to the clipboard

WSM_CLIPBOARD_PASTE default: soft-deny Ability to paste from the clipboard

WSM_RAISE_FOCUS default: soft-allow Ability to raise the window and grab focus programmatically

WSM_NOTIFICATION_API default: soft-allow Ability to use the libnotify API to raise notifications

WSM_CUSTOM_NOTIFICATION_API default: soft-deny Ability to build custom notification UIs and have them displayed (i.e., raised and positioned for a set duration) by the compositor

Possible future capabilities not related to the Graphic Stack

DSM_RECORD_VIDEO default: soft-deny Ability to read data on video capture devices

DSM_RECORD_AUDIO default: soft-deny Ability to read data on audio capture devices

DSM_USE_PASSWORD_STORE default: soft-allow Ability to use password store APIs

DSM_PRIVILEGED_HEADLESS default: soft-allow Ability to perform privileged actions without having a GUI

DSM_SESSION_LOCKER default: deny Ability to lock the user session

DSM_AUTHENTICATION_UI default: deny Ability to act as an authentication UI

DSM_PERMISSION_UI default: deny Ability to act as a permission UI

Things LibWSM is currently bad at

Expressing policies that apply only in certain modes of a Wayland compositor This won't be fixed unless a compositor developer can convince us that their compositor implements different desktops that their users conceive as entirely distinct (e.g., KDE?)

Adding options to capabilities e.g., on the notification API, different decisions for focus raising, custom UI, actions, UI positioning... Support is desirable but will complicate policy a great deal. Feedback is wanted from DE developers


Wayland Security Module library for wayland compositors



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