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SubjectRe: [PATCH v2] mm: Add kvfree_sensitive() for freeing sensitive data objects
On Tue, Apr 07, 2020 at 10:14:11PM +0100, David Howells wrote:
> Linus Torvalds <> wrote:
> > So the _real_ prototype for 'free()'-like operations should be something like
> >
> > void free(const volatile killed void *ptr);
> >
> > where that "killed" also tells the compiler that the pointer lifetime
> > is dead, so that using it afterwards is invalid. So that the compiler
> > could warn us about some of the most trivial use-after-free cases.
> It might be worth asking the compiler folks to give us an __attribute__ for
> that - even if they don't do anything with it immediately. So we might have
> something like:
> void free(const volatile void *ptr) __attribute__((free(1)));
> There are some for allocation functions, some of which we use, though I'm not
> sure we do so as consistently as we should (should inline functions like
> kcalloc() have them, for example?).

GCC recognises free() as being a __builtin. I don't know if there's
an __attribute__ for it.


It looks like the only two things this really does is warn you if you
try to free a pointer that gcc can prove isn't in the heap, and elide
the call if gcc can prove it's definitely NULL. Which are both things
that a compiler should do, but aren't all that valuable.

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