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SubjectRe: Security issues with local filesystem caching
On Thu, 2006-10-26 at 11:40 +0100, David Howells wrote:
> Stephen Smalley <> wrote:
> > This requires a fully trusted cache daemon that can arbitrarily tamper with
> > any content cached in this manner.
> Well, we could say that the cache daemon isn't actually allowed to read or
> write any of these files; all it need to do is read their cache xattrs, names
> and atimes, and rename and delete them. It also needs to be able to do
> readdir and lookup on the directories contained therein.

Yes, SELinux policy could impose such a restriction, as well as ensuring
that only the cache daemon can access the cache in the first place (vs.
any arbitrary uid 0 process). However, can the cache daemon effectively
redirect an access by a process to a file that is being cached to
another file by renaming cache files within the cache, such that the
higher level permission checking and auditing would be applied to one
file but the actual access would occur to another one? If so, then it
can effectively downgrade any file it is caching to the security context
of any other file it is caching.

> > But per-cache security attributes would be a reasonable approach to enabling
> > finer-grained protection.
> I'm not sure what you mean by this exactly. I'd be happy to set the same
> security attributes on the files and directories in the cache that impose
> draconian restrictions, but whatever I do has to be representable in the
> backing filesystem across reboots.

What I mean is that the cachefiles configuration would allow one to
specify a set of security attributes (uid, gid, security context) per
cache, and those attributes would then be applied by the cachefiles
kernel module when creating files within that cache. This means that
all files within a given cache have the same security attributes, but
different caches can have different attributes. Then one can run
different cache daemon instances with different process security
attributes, and ensure that each one can only access the caches it is
responsible for managing. Thus, the cache daemon instance for external
data can't tamper with the cache of internal data, or vice versa. Now,
your default configuration may just use a single set of security
attributes for all caches, and you might have a default definition in
your configuration that is applied in the absence of any per-cache
value, but you would be providing a mechanism by which people who want
to isolate different caches can do so.

> > It would help to understand the objection to setting fsuid/fsgid more
> > clearly - it may have had more to do with always setting them to 0 for all
> > cache files, or with using that as a way to work around the lack of an
> > explicit mechanism for bypassing security checks for internal accesses than
> > with the setting of the fsuid/fsgid itself.
> Christoph did enscribe thus:
> | - in cachefiles_walk_to_object reseting the fsuid/fsgid is not allowed
> Which I take to mean that I'm not allowed to change fsuid and fsgid. Why not,
> I'm not entirely certain. I wouldn't have thought it would matter as long as
> I put them back again before returning.

I think he also talked about binding the right access control
credentials to the cache files, which I think is more along the lines of
the discussion above (and Viro's concern). I don't think it is so much
about setting fsuid/fsgid per se, but about being able to protect the
cache at finer granularity.

Stephen Smalley
National Security Agency

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