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SubjectRe: [PATCH v20 00/28] Intel SGX1 support
On 2019-04-22 09:26, Andy Lutomirski wrote:
>> On Apr 19, 2019, at 2:56 PM, Jethro Beekman <> wrote:
>> This works fine with v20 as-is. However, consider the equivalent of the
>> PT-based flow:
>> ioctl(EADD) <-- no error!
> Indeed!
>> It's not me that's working around the LSM, it's the SGX driver! It's
>> writing to memory that's not marked writable! The fundamental issue here
>> is that the SGX instruction set has several instructions that bypass the
>> page table permission bits, and this is (naturally) confusing to any
>> kind of reference monitor like the LSM framework. You can come up with
>> similar scenarios that involve PROT_READ|PROT_WRITE|PROT_EXEC or
>> ptrace(PTRACE_POKETEXT). So, clearly, the proper way to fix this failure
>> of complete mediation is by enforcing appropriate page-table permissions
>> even on the SGX instructions that don't do it themselves. Just make any
>> implicit memory access look like a regular memory access and now
>> everyone is on the same page (pun intended).
> I agree that we should do this. But then what?

Then, we have a minimum viable SGX implementation that doesn't make
things worse than they are today from a userspace code loading/LSM
perspective. People without LSMs can use SGX and people with LSMs are
not more vulnerable than before. I agree that we should do something
along the following lines...

> So I think we need a better EADD ioctl that explicitly does work on
> PROT_READ|PROT_EXEC enclave memory but makes up for by validating the
> *source* of the data. The effect will be similar to mapping a
> labeled, appraised, etc file as PROT_EXEC.

... but I don't see why this would need to be in the initial patch set.
We need to take some time to explore the design space here (see
additional comments below), and I don't think it's necessary to wait for it.

> Maybe, in extreme pseudocode:
> fd = open(“/dev/sgx/enclave”);
> ioctl(fd, SGX_CREATE_FROM_FILE, file_fd);
> // fd now inherits the LSM label from the file, or is otherwise marked.
> mmap(fd, PROT_READ|PROT_EXEC, ...);
> I suppose that an alternative would be to delegate all the EADD calls
> to a privileged daemon, but that’s nasty.

What file format should this be in? I have worked with several different
binary enclave formats and I don't really like any of them.


* People know about ELF.
* Allows storing additional metadata that is only used by userspace, not
the enclave itself.

* ELF generally loads all kinds of stuff in memory that is not necessary
for enclaves, such as the ELF header.
* Special tools are needed to calculate ENCLAVEHASH, for signing &
* All tools need to agree on the exact transformation.
* Unclear how to specify things such as: which 256-byte chunks of memory
should be measured, heap, TCS pages, stacks, SSAs, etc.

* If using ELF, should this be the same format that the Intel Linux SDK
uses (not documented, but source code is available) or something newly

# PE (Windows Intel SDK format)

Andy suggested this in another email. I'm not sure why exactly?

* Used by Windows enclaves?
* Allows storing additional metadata that is only used by userspace, not
the enclave itself.

* The format is not documented. I did some RE on this format a long time
ago. See
* PE is not really used on Linux.
* All same cons as ELF above.

# CPU-native (hash stream) "SGXS"

The security properties of an enclave are completely defined by the hash
that's calculated by the processor while loading the enclave. The exact
hashed data is what I call the "SGX stream" format (SGXS). This is fully
described by the Intel SDM. I've written down some notes about this at That
document also defines a notion of canonicality for streams. You can
ignore the section on "Enhanced SGXS", which is a failed experiment.

* Computing ENCLAVEHASH is a simple SHA256 of the file.
* No complex transformations needed to load enclave.

* No way to specify memory contents of non-measured memory.
* No space for non-enclave metadata (including SIGSTRUCT).
* Not a standard format for transporting binaries.

# CPU-native (instruction stream)

An enclave's memory contents is fully defined by the set of
ECREATE/EADD/EEXTEND/EINIT instructions that the OS needs to execute.
One could envision a format that describes exactly those instructions.
One difference with the SGXS format described above is that the enclave
memory is described as part of EADD, not EEXTEND. This allows including
specific values for non-measured memory.

* No complex transformations needed to load enclave.
* Obvious place to store SIGSTRUCT.

* Special tools are needed to calculate ENCLAVEHASH, for signing &
* No obvious space for non-enclave metadata.
* Not a standard format for transporting binaries.


We've been using the SGXS format for a couple of years, and also the
"Enhanced SGXS" format. I think SGXS make a lot of sense for SGX
software, Enhanced SGXS not so much. I've recently been pondering
developing a new format that is basically an archive (tar? but
preferably something with an index) of SGXS, SIGSTRUCT, some file
describing non-measured memory contents (format TBD), and additional
non-enclave metadata.

I'd be interested in hearing people's thoughts on file formats.

Jethro Beekman | Fortanix

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