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SubjectRe: [RFC][PATCH] Randomize kernel base address on boot
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On Tue, 2011-05-24 at 15:31 -0700, H. Peter Anvin wrote:
> On 05/24/2011 01:31 PM, Dan Rosenberg wrote:
> > This introduces CONFIG_RANDOMIZE_BASE, which randomizes the address at
> > which the kernel is decompressed at boot as a security feature that
> > deters exploit attempts relying on knowledge of the location of kernel
> > internals. The default values of the kptr_restrict and dmesg_restrict
> > sysctls are set to (1) when this is enabled, since hiding kernel
> > pointers is necessary to preserve the secrecy of the randomized base
> > address.
> >
> > This feature also uses a fixed mapping to move the IDT (if not already
> > done as a fix for the F00F bug), to avoid exposing the location of
> > kernel internals relative to the original IDT. This has the additional
> > security benefit of marking the new virtual address of the IDT
> > read-only.
>
> As written, I think this is unsafe, simply because the kernel has no
> idea what memory is actually safe to relocate into, and your code
> doesn't actually make any attempt at doing so.
>
> The fact that you change CONFIG_PHYSICAL_ALIGN is particularly
> devastating, and will introduce boot failures on real systems.
>
> For this to be acceptable, you need to at the very least:
>
> 1. Verify the in the address map passed to the kernel where it is safe
> to locate the kernel;

I'll do this, thanks.

> 2. Not introduce a performance regression (we avoid locating in the
> bottom 16 MiB for performance reasons, except on very small systems);

I altered the boot code so that it uses CONFIG_PHYSICAL_START, which
defaults to 16 MiB, as a lower bound on location. So nothing will ever
get loaded below there, and I still can take advantage of higher
alignment granularity. Are there other problems I'm not anticipating?

> 3. Make sure not to break kdump.
>

Ok, I'll be sure to add this to the list of things to test.

Thanks for the feedback.

-Dan




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