Kernel Lockdown Mode: Enforcing Security Restrictions in the Linux Kernel

Table of Contents

What is kernel lockdown mode?

Kernel lockdown mode is a security feature introduced in Linux kernel version 5.4 that restricts access to certain kernel features and data structures. When kernel lockdown mode is enabled, it prevents the following types of operations:

  • Unprivileged access to kernel memory and devices
  • Loading unsigned kernel modules
  • Overriding secure boot restrictions

These restrictions help prevent various types of attacks, such as privilege escalation, rootkits, and other forms of malware that seek to gain control of the kernel.

How does kernel lockdown mode work?

Kernel lockdown mode is implemented using a combination of cryptographic keys and platform-specific security features. When the kernel is booted with lockdown mode enabled, it generates a cryptographic key pair and uses it to sign various kernel components, such as the kernel image and module files. The public key is then stored in a read-only location, such as the firmware or UEFI Secure Boot Key Database.

During runtime, the kernel checks the signature of these components before loading them to ensure that they have not been modified or replaced with malicious versions. Additionally, kernel lockdown mode enforces access restrictions on certain kernel features and data structures to prevent unauthorized access.

How to enable kernel lockdown mode?

Enabling kernel lockdown mode varies depending on the Linux distribution and version you are using. In general, you can enable kernel lockdown mode by adding the following boot parameter to your kernel command line:


This parameter tells the kernel to enable confidentiality mode, which is the most restrictive level of kernel lockdown. Keep in mind that enabling kernel lockdown mode may cause certain features or applications to stop working, as they may rely on kernel functionality that is restricted by lockdown mode.


Kernel lockdown mode is a powerful security feature that can help protect your Linux system from various types of attacks. By restricting access to certain kernel features and data structures, it can prevent attackers from gaining control of the kernel and compromising your system. If you are concerned about the security of your Linux system, consider enabling kernel lockdown mode to add an extra layer of protection.

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