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SubjectRe: [PATCH] x86-64, vsyscalls: Rename UNSAFE_VSYSCALLS to COMPAT_VSYSCALLS

* pageexec@freemail.hu <pageexec@freemail.hu> wrote:

> On 6 Jun 2011 at 12:24, Ingo Molnar wrote:
>
> >
> > * Linus Torvalds <torvalds@linux-foundation.org> wrote:
> >
> > > On Mon, Jun 6, 2011 at 2:50 AM, Andy Lutomirski <luto@mit.edu> wrote:
> > > > CONFIG_UNSAFE_VSYSCALLS was added in the previous patch as a
> > > > temporary hack to avoid penalizing users who don't build glibc from
> > > > git.
> > >
> > > I really hate that name.
> > >
> > > Do you have *any* reason to call this "unsafe"?
> >
> > No, there's no reason at all for that. That naming is borderline
> > security FUD and last time i saw the series i considered renaming
> > it but got distracted :-)
>
> security FUD? for real? ;) [...]

'Borderline' security FUD! :-)

> [...] does that mean that you guys would accept a patch that would
> map the vdso at a fixed address for old times's sake? if not, on
> what grounds would you refuse it? see, you can't have it both ways.

You can actually do that by enabling CONFIG_COMPAT_VDSO=y.

> the fixed address of the vsyscall page *is* a very real security
> problem, it should have never been accepted as such and it's high
> time it went away finally in 2011AD.

It's only a security problem if there's a security hole elsewhere.

The thing is, and i'm not sure whether you realize or recognize it,
but these measures *are* two-edged swords.

Yes, the upside is that they reduce the risks associated with
security holes - but only statistically so.

The downside is that having such a measure in place makes it somewhat
less likely that those bugs will be found and fixed in the future: if
a bug is not exploitable then people like Spender wont spend time
exploiting and making a big deal out of them, right?

And yes, it might be embarrasing to see easy exploits and we might
roll eyes at the associated self-promotion circus but it will be one
more bug found, the reasons for the bug will be examined, potentially
avoiding a whole class of similar bugs *for sure*.

Can you guarantee that security bugs will be found and fixed with the
same kind of intensity even if we make their exploitation (much)
harder? I don't think you can make such a guarantee.

So as long as we are trading bugs-fixed-for-sure against statistical
safety we have to be mindful of the downsides of such a tradeoff ...

Thanks,

Ingo


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