Please report any suspected security issue in QEMU to the security mailing list at:
To report an issue via GPG encrypted email, please send it to the Red Hat Product Security team at:
Note: after the triage, encrypted issue details shall be sent to the upstream ‘qemu-security’ mailing list for archival purposes.
How to report an issue:
- Please include as many details as possible in the issue report.
- QEMU version, upstream commit/tag
- Host & Guest architecture x86/Arm/PPC, 32/64 bit etc.
- Affected code area/snippets
- Stack traces, crash details
- Malicious inputs/reproducer steps etc.
- Any configurations/settings required to trigger the issue.
Please share the QEMU command line used to invoke a guest VM.
- Please specify whom to acknowledge for reporting this issue.
How we respond:
Process of handling security issues comprises following steps:
- A non-automated response email is sent to the reporter(s) to acknowledge the reception of the report. (60 day’s counter starts here)
- Examine the issue details and confirm whether the issue is genuine
- Validate if it can be misused for malicious purposes
- Determine its worst case impact and severity [Low/Moderate/Important/Critical]
- Negotiate embargo timeline (if required, depending on severity)
- Request a CVE and open an upstream bug
- Create an upstream fix patch annotated with
- Link to an upstream bugzilla
- Reported-by, Tested-by etc. tags
- Once the patch is merged, close the upstream bug with a link to the
- Fixed in: <commit hash/link>
Above security lists are operated by select analysts, maintainers and/or representatives from downstream communities.
List members follow a responsible disclosure policy. Any non-public information you share about security issues, is kept confidential within members of the QEMU security team and a minimal supporting staff in their affiliated companies. Such information will not be disclosed to third party organisations/individuals without prior permission from the reporter(s).
We aim to process security issues within maximum of 60 days. That is not to say that issues will remain private for 60 days, nope. After the triaging step above
- If severity of the issue is sufficiently low, an upstream public bug will be created immediately.
- If severity of the issue requires co-ordinated disclosure at a future date, then the embargo process below is followed, and upstream bug will be opened at the end of the embargo period.
This will allow upstream contributors to create, test and track fix patch(es).
If a security issue is reported that is not already public and its severity requires coordinated disclosure, then an embargo date will be set and communicated to the reporter(s).
Embargo periods will be negotiated by mutual agreement between reporter(s), members of the security list and other relevant parties to the problem. The preferred embargo period is upto 2 weeks. However, longer embargoes may be negotiated if the severity of the issue requires it.
Members of the security list agree not to publicly disclose any details of an embargoed security issue until its embargo date expires.
Each security issue is assigned a CVE number. The CVE number is allocated by one of the vendor security engineers on the security list.
When to contact the QEMU Security List
You should contact the Security List if:
- You think there may be a security vulnerability in QEMU.
- You are unsure about how a known vulnerability affects QEMU.
- You can contact us in English. We are unable to respond in other languages.
When not to contact the QEMU Security List
- You need assistance in a language other than English.
- You require technical assistance (for example, “how do I configure QEMU?”).
- You need help upgrading QEMU due to security alerts.
- Your issue is not security related.
How impact and severity of a bug is decided
Security criterion: -> https://www.qemu.org/docs/master/system/security.html
All security issues in QEMU are not equal. Based on the parts of the QEMU sources wherein the bug is found, its impact and severity could vary.
In particular, QEMU is used in many different scenarios; some of them assume that the guest is trusted, some of them don’t. General considerations to triage QEMU issues and decide whether a configuration is security sensitive include:
- Is there any feasible way for a malicious party to exploit this flaw and cause real damage? (e.g. from a guest or via downloadable images)
- Does the flaw require access to the management interface? Would the management interface be accessible in the scenario where the flaw could cause real damage?
- Is QEMU used in conjunction with a hypervisor (as opposed to TCG binary translation)?
- Is QEMU used to offer virtualised production services, as opposed to usage as a development platform?
Whenever some or all of these questions have negative answers, what appears to be a major security flaw might be considered of low severity because it could only be exercised in use cases where QEMU and everything interacting with it is trusted.
For example, consider upstream commit 9201bb9 “sdhci.c: Limit the maximum block size”, an of out of bounds (OOB) memory access (ie. buffer overflow) issue that was found and fixed in the SD Host Controller emulation (hw/sd/sdhci.c).
On the surface, this bug appears to be a genuine security flaw, with potentially severe implications. But digging further down, there are only two ways to use SD Host Controller emulation, one is via ‘sdhci-pci’ interface and the other is via ‘generic-sdhci’ interface.
Of these two, the ‘sdhci-pci’ interface had actually been disabled by default in the upstream QEMU releases (commit 1910913 “sdhci: Make device “sdhci-pci” unavailable with -device” at the time the flaw was reported; therefore, guests could not possibly use ‘sdhci-pci’ for any purpose.
The ‘generic-sdhci’ interface, instead, had only one user in ‘Xilinx Zynq Baseboard emulation’ (hw/arm/xilinx_zynq.c). Xilinx Zynq is a programmable systems on chip (SoC) device. While QEMU does emulate this device, in practice it is used to facilitate cross-platform developmental efforts, i.e. QEMU is used to write programs for the SoC device. In such developer environments, it is generally assumed that the guest is trusted.
And thus, this buffer overflow turned out to be a security non-issue.