lists  /  announce  owl-users  owl-dev  john-users  john-dev  passwdqc-users  yescrypt  popa3d-users  /  oss-security  kernel-hardening  musl  sabotage  tlsify  passwords  /  crypt-dev  xvendor  /  Bugtraq  Full-Disclosure  linux-kernel  linux-netdev  linux-ext4  linux-hardening  PHC 
Open Source and information security mailing list archives
Hash Suite: Windows password security audit tool. GUI, reports in PDF.
[<prev] [next>] [<thread-prev] [thread-next>] [day] [month] [year] [list]
Date:   Thu, 21 Jan 2021 11:26:20 +0100
From:   Julien Thierry <>
To:     Ard Biesheuvel <>
Cc:     Linux Kernel Mailing List <>,
        Linux ARM <>,
        Catalin Marinas <>,
        Will Deacon <>,
        Masahiro Yamada <>,
        Kees Cook <>,
        Michal Marek <>,
        Josh Poimboeuf <>,
        Peter Zijlstra <>,
        Mark Rutland <>,
        Mark Brown <>,
        linux-efi <>,
Subject: Re: [RFC PATCH 00/17] objtool: add base support for arm64

Hi Ard,

On 1/21/21 10:03 AM, Ard Biesheuvel wrote:
> Hello Julien,
> On Wed, 20 Jan 2021 at 18:38, Julien Thierry <> wrote:
>> Hi,
>> This series enables objtool to start doing stack validation on arm64
>> kernel builds.
> Could we elaborate on this point, please? 'Stack validation' means
> getting an accurate picture of all kernel code that will be executed
> at some point in the future, due to the fact that there are stack
> frames pointing to them. And this ability is essential in order to do
> live patching safely?
> If this is the goal, I wonder whether this is the right approach for
> arm64 (or for any other architecture, for that matter)
> Parsing/decoding the object code and even worse, relying on GCC
> plugins to annotate some of the idioms as they are being generated, in
> order to infer intent on the part of the compiler goes *way* beyond
> what we should be comfortable with. The whole point of this exercise
> is to guarantee that there are no false positives when it comes to
> deciding whether the kernel is in a live patchable state, and I don't
> see how we can ever provide such a guarantee when it is built on such
> a fragile foundation.
> If we want to ensure that the stack contents are always an accurate
> reflection of the real call stack, we should work with the toolchain
> folks to identify issues that may interfere with this, and implement
> controls over these behaviors that we can decide to use in the build.
> In the past, I have already proposed adding a 'kernel' code model to
> the AArch64 compiler that guarantees certain things, such as adrp/add
> for symbol references, and no GOT indirections for position
> independent code. Inhibiting optimizations that may impact our ability
> to infer the real call stack from the stack contents is something we
> might add here as well.

I'm not familiar with toolcahin code models, but would this approach be 
able to validate assembly code (either inline or in assembly files?)

> Another thing that occurred to me is that inferring which kernel code
> is actually live in terms of pending function returns could be
> inferred much more easily from a shadow call stack, which is a thing
> we already implement for Clang builds.

I was not familiar with the shadow call stack. If I understand correctly 
that would be a stack of return addresses of function currently on the 
call stack, is that correct?

That would indeed be a simpler approach, however I guess the 
instrumentation has a cost. Is the instrumentation also available with 
GCC? And is this instrumentation efficient enough to be suitable for 
production builds?

If we can rely on shadow call stack to implement the reliable unwinder, 
I guess this could be the way to go.

> In summary, I would not be in favor of enabling objtool on arm64 at
> all until we have exhausted other options for providing the
> functionality that we need it for (given that objtool provides many
> other things that only x86 cares about, IIUC)
I understand the concern and appreciate the suggestion. I guess this 
does need some thorough discussions for the right approach.


Julien Thierry

Powered by blists - more mailing lists