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SubjectRe: [PATCH v2 0/5] pid: add pidfd_open()
On Sun, Mar 31, 2019 at 6:08 AM Joel Fernandes <> wrote:
> On Sun, Mar 31, 2019 at 04:34:57AM +0200, Jann Horn wrote:
> > On Sun, Mar 31, 2019 at 3:07 AM Joel Fernandes <> wrote:
> > > As I said I don't really care about "pidfd" solving any racing issues with
> > > /proc/<pid>/* accesses - because I still find it hard to imagine that the pid
> > > number can be reused easily from the time you know which <pid> to deal with,
> > > to the time when you want to read, say, the /proc/<pid>/status file.
> >
> > There have been several Android security bugs related to PID reuse.
> Yes PID reuse will be a problem till we have pidfd_clone and
> pidfd_send_signal (and any other pidfd related syscalls). I've never denied
> PID reuse is *currently* a problem and the set of pidfd syscalls being
> proposed are designed to avoid those. So I'm not fully sure what you mean.
> Anyway, I would love to see those security bugs you mentioned if you could
> point me to them.
"Android: racy getpidcon usage permits binder service replacement"
"Android: debuggerd mitigation bypass and infoleak"
"Android: Hardware Service Manager Arbitrary Service Replacement due
to getpidcon"
"Android: Permission bypass in KeyStore service due to getpidcon"
"Android: getpidcon() usage in hardware binder servicemanager permits
ACL bypass"

> > > I am yet
> > > to see any real data to show that such overflow happens - you literally need
> > > 32k process deaths and forks in such a short time frame
> >
> > This seems very inaccurate to me.
> >
> > The time frame in which the PID has to wrap around is not the time
> > between process death and use of the PID. It is the time between *the
> > creation* of the old process and the use of the PID. Consider the
> > following sequence of events:
> >
> > - process A starts with PID 1000
> > - some time passes in which some process repeatedly forks, with PIDs
> > wrapping around to 999
> > - process B starts an attempt to access process A (using PID 1000)
> > - process A dies
> > - process C spawns with PID 1000
> > - process B accidentally accesses process C
> >
> > Also, it's probably worth clarifying that here, "processes" means "threads".
> >
> > If there are a lot of active processes, that reduces the number of
> > times you have to clone() to get the PID to wrap around.
> Ok, that's fair and I take your point. But I wonder what access you're
> talking about, is it killing the process? If yes, pidfd_clone +
> pidfd_send_signal will solve that in the race free way without relying on the
> PID number.

Sure, given a pidfd_clone() syscall, as long as the parent of the
process is giving you a pidfd for it and you don't have to deal with
grandchildren created by fork() calls outside your control, that

> Is it accessing /proc/<pid>/? then see below.

> > > and on 64-bit, that
> > > number is really high
> >
> > Which number is really high on 64-bit? Checking on a walleye phone,
> > pid_max is still only 32768:
> >
> > walleye:/ # cat /proc/sys/kernel/pid_max
> > 32768
> > walleye:/ #
> Ok. I was talking about the theoretical limit of pid_max on a 64-bit
> platform. But since we are talking about NOT relying on the PID number in the
> first place, we can move on from this point.

(pid_t is a signed 32-bit value, that's UAPI.)

> > > that its not even an issue. And if this is really an
> > > issue, then you can just open a handle to /proc/<pid> at process creation
> > > time and keep it around. If the <pid> is reused, you can still use openat(2)
> > > on that handle without any races.
> >
> > But not if you want to implement something like killall in a
> > race-free way, for example.
> I am not at all talking about killing processes in your last quote of my
> email above, I'm talking about access to /proc/<pid>/ files.
> As I said, at the time of process creation, you can obtain an fd by opening
> /proc/<pid>/ and keep it open. Then you can do an openat(2) on that fd
> without worrying at <pid> reuse, no? And then access all the files that way.

Yeah, if you're the parent of a process with a termination signal, that works.

> As for killall in Android. I don't think that "killing processes by name" is
> relied on for the runtime operation of Android. That would be a very bad
> idea. Low memory killer does not kill processes by name. It kills processes
> by the PID number using kill(2) which we'd like to replace with
> pidfd_send_signal.

Yeah, I somehow lost context when replying to your mail here; sorry
about that. I didn't mean to imply that this is a usecase on Android.

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