Security Considerations

This document discusses the various security issues that might affect OpenDaylight. The document also lists specific recommendations to mitigate security risks.

This document also contains information about the corrective steps you can take if you discover a security issue with OpenDaylight, and if necessary, contact the Security Response Team, which is tasked with identifying and resolving security threats.

Overview of OpenDaylight Security

There are many different kinds of security vulnerabilities that could affect an OpenDaylight deployment, but this guide focuses on those where (a) the servers, virtual machines or other devices running OpenDaylight have been properly physically (or virtually in the case of VMs) secured against untrusted individuals and (b) individuals who have access, either via remote logins or physically, will not attempt to attack or subvert the deployment intentionally or otherwise.

While those attack vectors are real, they are out of the scope of this document.

What remains in scope is attacks launched from a server, virtual machine, or device other than the one running OpenDaylight where the attack does not have valid credentials to access the OpenDaylight deployment.

The rest of this document gives specific recommendations for deploying OpenDaylight in a secure manner, but first we highlight some high-level security advantages of OpenDaylight.

  • Separating the control and management planes from the data plane (both logically and, in many cases, physically) allows possible security threats to be forced into a smaller attack surface.

  • Having centralized information and network control gives network administrators more visibility and control over the entire network, enabling them to make better decisions faster. At the same time, centralization of network control can be an advantage only if access to that control is secure.


    While both previous advantages improve security, they also make an OpenDaylight deployment an attractive target for attack making understanding these security considerations even more important.

  • The ability to more rapidly evolve southbound protocols and how they are used provides more and faster mechanisms to enact appropriate security mitigations and remediations.

  • OpenDaylight is built from OSGi bundles and the Karaf Java container. Both Karaf and OSGi provide some level of isolation with explicit code boundaries, package imports, package exports, and other security-related features.

  • OpenDaylight has a history of rapidly addressing known vulnerabilities and a well-defined process for reporting and dealing with them.

OpenDaylight Security Resources

Deployment Recommendations

We recommend that you follow the deployment guidelines in setting up OpenDaylight to minimize security threats.

  • The default credentials should be changed before deploying OpenDaylight.

  • OpenDaylight should be deployed in a private network that cannot be accessed from the internet.

  • Separate the data network (that connects devices using the network) from the management network (that connects the network devices to OpenDaylight).


    Deploying OpenDaylight on a separate, private management network does not eliminate threats, but only mitigates them. By construction, some messages must flow from the data network to the management network, e.g., OpenFlow packet_in messages, and these create an attack surface even if it is a small one.

  • Implement an authentication policy for devices that connect to both the data and management network. These are the devices which bridge, likely untrusted, traffic from the data network to the management network.

Securing OSGi bundles

OSGi is a Java-specific framework that improves the way that Java classes interact within a single JVM. It provides an enhanced version of the java.lang.SecurityManager (ConditionalPermissionAdmin) in terms of security.

Java provides a security framework that allows a security policy to grant permissions, such as reading a file or opening a network connection, to specific code. The code maybe classes from the jarfile loaded from a specific URL, or a class signed by a specific key. OSGi builds on the standard Java security model to add the following features:

  • A set of OSGi-specific permission types, such as one that grants the right to register an OSGi service or get an OSGi service from the service registry.
  • The ability to dynamically modify permissions at runtime. This includes the ability to specify permissions by using code rather than a text configuration file.
  • A flexible predicate-based approach to determining which rules are applicable to which ProtectionDomain. This approach is much more powerful than the standard Java security policy which can only grant rights based on a jarfile URL or class signature. A few standard predicates are provided, including selecting rules based upon bundle symbolic-name.
  • Support for bundle local permissions policies with optional further constraints such as DENY operations. Most of this functionality is accessed by using the OSGi ConditionalPermissionAdmin service which is part of the OSGi core and can be obtained from the OSGi service registry. The ConditionalPermissionAdmin API replaces the earlier PermissionAdmin API.

For more information, refer to

Securing the Karaf container

Apache Karaf is a OSGi-based runtime platform which provides a lightweight container for OpenDaylight and applications. Apache Karaf uses either Apache Felix Framework or Eclipse Equinox OSGi frameworks, and provide additional features on top of the framework.

Apache Karaf provides a security framework based on Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS) in compliance with OSGi recommendations, while providing RBAC (Role-Based Access Control) mechanism for the console and Java Management Extensions (JMX).

The Apache Karaf security framework is used internally to control the access to the following components:

  • OSGi services
  • console commands
  • JMX layer
  • WebConsole

The remote management capabilities are present in Apache Karaf by default, however they can be disabled by using various configuration alterations. These configuration options may be applied to the OpenDaylight Karaf distribution.


Refer to the following list of publications for more information on implementing security for the Karaf container.

Disabling the remote shutdown port

You can lock down your deployment post installation. Set karaf.shutdown.port=-1 in etc/ or etc/ to disable the remote shutdown port.

Securing Southbound Plugins

Many individual southbound plugins provide mechanisms to secure their communication with network devices. For example, the OpenFlow plugin supports TLS connections with bi-directional authentication and the NETCONF plugin supports connecting over SSH. Meanwhile, the Unified Secure Channel plugin provides a way to form secure, remote connections for supported devices.

When deploying OpenDaylight, you should carefully investigate the secure mechanisms to connect to devices using the relevant plugins.

Securing OpenDaylight using AAA

AAA stands for Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting. All three of can help improve the security posture of and OpenDaylight deployment. In this release, only authentication is fully supported, while authorization is an experimental feature and accounting remains a work in progress.

The vast majority of OpenDaylight’s northbound APIs (and all RESTCONF APIs) are protected by AAA by default when installing the +odl-restconf+ feature. In the cases that APIs are not protected by AAA, this will be noted in the per-project release notes.

By default, OpenDaylight has only one user account with the username and password admin. This should be changed before deploying OpenDaylight.

Security Considerations for Clustering

While OpenDaylight clustering provides many benefits including high availability, scale-out performance, and data durability, it also opens a new attack surface in the form of the messages exchanged between the various instances of OpenDaylight in the cluster. In the current OpenDaylight release, these messages are neither encrypted nor authenticated meaning that anyone with access to the management network where OpenDaylight exchanges these clustering messages can forge and/or read the messages. This means that if clustering is enabled, it is even more important that the management network be kept secure from any untrusted entities.