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SubjectRe: [kernel-hardening] [PATCH 0/2] introduce post-init read-only memory

* PaX Team <> wrote:

> On 26 Nov 2015 at 9:54, Ingo Molnar wrote:
> > * PaX Team <> wrote:
> >
> > > actually the kernel could silently recover from this given how the page fault
> > > handler could easily determine that the fault address fell into the
> > > data..read_only section and just silently undo the read-only property, log the
> > > event to dmesg and retry the faulting access.
> >
> > So a safer method would be to decode the faulting instruction, to skip it by
> > fixing up the return RIP and to log the event. It would be mostly equivalent
> > to trying to write to ROM (which get ignored as well), so it's a recoverable
> > (and debuggable) event.
> if by skipping you mean ignoring the write attempt then it's not a good idea as
> it has a good chance to cause unexpected behaviour down the line.
> e.g., imagine that the write was to a function pointer (even an entire ops
> structure) or a boolean that controls some important feature for after-init
> code. ignoring/dropping such writes could cause all kinds of logic bugs (if not
> worse).

Well, the typical case is that it's a logic bug to _do_ the write: the structure
was marked readonly for a reason but some init code re-runs during suspend or so.

But yes, logic bugs might trigger - but that is true in the opposite case as well,
if we do the write despite it being marked readonly:

> my somewhat related war story is that i once tried to constify machine_ops (both
> the struct and the variable of the same name) directly and just forced the
> writes in kvm/xen/etc via type casts. now i knew it was all undefined behaviour
> but i didn't expect gcc to take advantage of it but it did (const propagated the
> *initial* fptr values into the indirect calls by turning them into direct calls)
> and which in turn prevented proper reboots for guests (an event which obviously
> happens much later after init/boot to the great puzzlement of end users and
> myself).
> misusing __read_only and ignoring write attempts would effectively produce the
> same misbehaviour as above so i strongly advise against it.

No, the difference to the GCC related aliasing bug is that with my technique the
kernel would immediately produce a very visible kernel warning, which is a very
clear sign that is wrong - and with a very clear backtrace in the warning that
points right to the problematic code - which signature shows us (and users) what
is wrong.

So your example is not comparable at all.

Plus the truly paranoid might panic/halt the system on such warnings, so for
highly secure systems there's a way to not even allow the possibility of logic
bugs. (at the cost of stopping the system when a bug triggers.)



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