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SubjectRe: [RFC][PATCH] Randomize kernel base address on boot
Date
On Tuesday, May 24, 2011, 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.
>
> Entropy is generated using the RDRAND instruction if it is supported. If
> not, then RDTSC is used, if supported. If neither RDRAND nor RDTSC are
> supported, then no randomness is introduced. Support for the CPUID
> instruction is required to check for the availability of these two
> instructions.
>
> Thanks to everyone who contributed helpful suggestions and feedback so
> far.
>
> Comments/Questions:
>
> * Since RDRAND is relatively new, only the most recent version of
> binutils supports assembling it. To avoid breaking builds for people
> who use older toolchains but want this feature, I hardcoded the opcodes.
> If anyone has a better approach, please let me know.
>
> * I chose to mimic the F00F bugfix behavior for moving the IDT, since it
> required very little code and has the additional benefit of making the
> IDT read-only. Ingo Molnar's suggestion of allocating per-cpu IDTs
> instead is still on the table, and I'd like to get feedback on this.
>
> * In order to increase the entropy for the randomized base, I changed
> the default value of CONFIG_PHYSICAL_ALIGN back to 2mb. It had
> previously been raised to 16mb as a hack so that relocatable kernels
> wouldn't load below that minimum. I address this by changing the
> meaning of CONFIG_PHYSICAL_START such that it now represents a minimum
> address that relocatable kernels can be loaded at (rather than being
> ignored by relocatable kernels). So, if a relocatable kernel determines
> it should be loaded at an address below CONFIG_PHYSICAL_START (which
> defaults to 16mb), I just bump it up.
>
> * I would appreciate guidance on safe values for the highest addresses
> we can safely load the kernel at, on both 32-bit and 64-bit. This
> version uses 64mb (0x4000000) for 32-bit, and worked well in testing.
>
> * CONFIG_RANDOMIZE_BASE automatically sets the default value of
> kptr_restrict and dmesg_restrict to 1, since it's nonsensical to use
> this without the other two. I considered removing
> CONFIG_SECURITY_DMESG_RESTRICT altogether (it currently sets the default
> value for dmesg_restrict), but just in case distros want to keep the
> CONFIG as a toggle switch but don't want to use CONFIG_RANDOMIZE_BASE, I
> kept it around. So, now CONFIG_RANDOMIZE_BASE sets the default value
> for CONFIG_SECURITY_DMESG_RESTRICT.
>
> * x86-64 is still "to-do". Because it calculates the kernel text address
> twice, this may be a little trickier.
>
> * Finding a middle ground instead of the current "all-or-nothing"
> behavior of kptr_restrict that allows perf users to use this feature is
> future work.
>
> * Tested by repeatedly booting and observing kallsyms output on both
> i386. Passed the "looks random to me" test, and saw no bad behavior.
> Tested that changing CONFIG_PHYSICAL_ALIGN to 2mb still boots and runs
> fine on amd64.
>
> * Is it worth bothering to look for alternate sources of entropy if
> RDTSC isn't available?
>
> * Could use testing of CPU hotplugging and suspend/resume.

Well, as far as I can tell, this feature is going to break hibernation on
both x86_32 and x86_64 at the moment, unless you can guarantee that the
randomized kernel location will be the same for both the boot and the target
kernels.

It may be worked around on x86_64 relatively easily, I think, but other
architectures (including the 32-bit x86) would require much more intrusive
modifications to work with that feature.

Thanks,
Rafael


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