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Subject[PATCH v3 05/13] seccomp_filter: Document what seccomp_filter is and how it works.
 Adds a text file covering what CONFIG_SECCOMP_FILTER is, how it is
implemented presently, and what it may be used for. In addition,
the limitations and caveats of the proposed implementation are

v3: a little more cleanup
v2: moved to prctl/
updated for the v2 syntax.
adds a note about compat behavior

Signed-off-by: Will Drewry <>
Documentation/prctl/seccomp_filter.txt | 145 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
1 files changed, 145 insertions(+), 0 deletions(-)
create mode 100644 Documentation/prctl/seccomp_filter.txt

diff --git a/Documentation/prctl/seccomp_filter.txt b/Documentation/prctl/seccomp_filter.txt
new file mode 100644
index 0000000..27ac5af
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/prctl/seccomp_filter.txt
@@ -0,0 +1,145 @@
+ Seccomp filtering
+ =================
+A large number of system calls are exposed to every userland process
+with many of them going unused for the entire lifetime of the process.
+As system calls change and mature, bugs are found and eradicated. A
+certain subset of userland applications benefit by having a reduce set
+of available system calls. The reduced set reduces the total kernel
+surface exposed to the application. System call filtering is meant for
+use with those applications.
+The implementation currently leverages both the existing seccomp
+infrastructure and the kernel tracing infrastructure. By centralizing
+hooks for attack surface reduction in seccomp, it is possible to assure
+attention to security that is less relevant in normal ftrace scenarios,
+such as time-of-check, time-of-use attacks. However, ftrace provides a
+rich, human-friendly environment for interfacing with system call
+specific arguments. (As such, this requires FTRACE_SYSCALLS for any
+introspective filtering support.)
+What it isn't
+System call filtering isn't a sandbox. It provides a clearly defined
+mechanism for minimizing the exposed kernel surface. Beyond that,
+policy for logical behavior and information flow should be managed with
+a combinations of other system hardening techniques and, potentially, a
+LSM of your choosing. Expressive, dynamic filters based on the ftrace
+filter engine provide further options down this path (avoiding
+pathological sizes or selecting which of the multiplexed system calls in
+socketcall() is allowed, for instance) which could be construed,
+incorrectly, as a more complete sandboxing solution.
+An additional seccomp mode is exposed through mode '2'.
+This mode depends on CONFIG_SECCOMP_FILTER. By default, it provides
+only the most trivial of filter support "1" or cleared. However, if
+CONFIG_FTRACE_SYSCALLS is enabled, the ftrace filter engine may be used
+for more expressive filters.
+A collection of filters may be supplied via prctl, and the current set
+of filters is exposed in /proc/<pid>/seccomp_filter.
+Interacting with seccomp filters can be done through three new prctl calls
+and one existing one.
+ A pre-existing option for enabling strict seccomp mode (1) or
+ filtering seccomp (2).
+ Usage:
+ prctl(PR_SET_SECCOMP, 1); /* strict */
+ prctl(PR_SET_SECCOMP, 2); /* filters */
+ Allows the specification of a new filter for a given system
+ call, by number, and filter string. If CONFIG_FTRACE_SYSCALLS is
+ supported, the filter string may be any valid value for the
+ given system call. If it is not supported, the filter string
+ may only be "1".
+ All calls to PR_SET_SECCOMP_FILTER for a given system
+ call will append the supplied string to any existing filters.
+ Filter construction looks as follows:
+ (Nothing) + "fd == 1 || fd == 2" => fd == 1 || fd == 2
+ ... + "fd != 2" => (fd == 1 || fd == 2) && fd != 2
+ ... + "size < 100" =>
+ ((fd == 1 || fd == 2) && fd != 2) && size < 100
+ If there is no filter and the seccomp mode has already
+ transitioned to filtering, additions cannot be made. Filters
+ may only be added that reduce the available kernel surface.
+ Usage (per the construction example above):
+ prctl(PR_SET_SECCOMP_FILTER, __NR_write, "fd == 1 || fd == 2");
+ prctl(PR_SET_SECCOMP_FILTER, __NR_write, "fd != 2");
+ prctl(PR_SET_SECCOMP_FILTER, __NR_write, "size < 100");
+ Removes all filter entries for a given system call number. When
+ called prior to entering seccomp filtering mode, it allows for
+ new filters to be applied to the same system call. After
+ transition, however, it completely drops access to the call.
+ Usage:
+ prctl(PR_CLEAR_SECCOMP_FILTER, __NR_open);
+PR_GET_SECCOMP_FILTER: Returns the aggregated filter string for a system
+ call into a user-supplied buffer of a given length.
+ Usage:
+ prctl(PR_GET_SECCOMP_FILTER, __NR_write, buf,
+ sizeof(buf));
+All of the above calls return 0 on success and non-zero on error.
+Assume a process would like to cleanly read and write to stdin/out/err
+as well as access its filters after seccomp enforcement begins. This
+may be done as follows:
+ prctl(PR_SET_SECCOMP_FILTER, __NR_read, "fd == 0");
+ prctl(PR_SET_SECCOMP_FILTER, __NR_write, "fd == 1 || fd == 2");
+ prctl(PR_SET_SECCOMP_FILTER, __NR_exit, "1");
+ prctl(PR_SET_SECCOMP_FILTER, __NR_prctl, "1");
+ /* Do stuff with fdset . . .*/
+ /* Drop read access and keep only write access to fd 1. */
+ prctl(PR_CLEAR_SECCOMP_FILTER, __NR_read);
+ prctl(PR_SET_SECCOMP_FILTER, __NR_write, "fd != 2");
+ /* Perform any final processing . . . */
+ syscall(__NR_exit, 0);
+- The filter event subsystem comes from CONFIG_TRACE_EVENTS, and the
+system call events come from CONFIG_FTRACE_SYSCALLS. However, if
+neither are available, a filter string of "1" will be honored, and it may
+be removed using PR_CLEAR_SECCOMP_FILTER. With ftrace filtering,
+calling PR_SET_SECCOMP_FILTER with a filter of "0" would have similar
+affect but would not be consistent on a kernel without the support.
+- Some platforms support a 32-bit userspace with 64-bit kernels. In
+these cases (CONFIG_COMPAT), system call numbers may not match across
+64-bit and 32-bit system calls. When the first PRCTL_SET_SECCOMP_FILTER
+is called, the in-memory filters state is annotated with whether the
+call has been made via the compat interface. All subsequent calls will
+be checked for compat call mismatch. In the long run, it may make sense
+to store compat and non-compat filters separately, but that is not
+supported at present.

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