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Date:   Wed, 17 Nov 2021 14:29:53 -0800
From:   Kyle Huey <>
To:     "Eric W. Biederman" <>
Cc:     Kees Cook <>,
        Andrea Righi <>,
        Shuah Khan <>,
        Alexei Starovoitov <>,
        Andy Lutomirski <>,
        Will Drewry <>,
        "open list:KERNEL SELFTEST FRAMEWORK" 
        open list <>,,
        Linus Torvalds <>,
        "Robert O'Callahan" <>
Subject: Re: [REGRESSION] 5.16rc1: SA_IMMUTABLE breaks debuggers

On Wed, Nov 17, 2021 at 1:05 PM Eric W. Biederman <> wrote:
> Kyle Huey <> writes:
> > On Wed, Nov 17, 2021 at 11:05 AM Kyle Huey <> wrote:
> >>
> >> On Wed, Nov 17, 2021 at 10:51 AM Kees Cook <> wrote:
> >> >
> >> > On Wed, Nov 17, 2021 at 10:47:13AM -0800, Kyle Huey wrote:
> >> > > rr, a userspace record and replay debugger[0], is completely broken on
> >> > > 5.16rc1. I bisected this to 00b06da29cf9dc633cdba87acd3f57f4df3fd5c7.
> >> > >
> >> > > That patch makes two changes, it blocks sigaction from changing signal
> >> > > handlers once the kernel has decided to force the program to take a
> >> > > signal and it also stops notifying ptracers of the signal in the same
> >> > > circumstances. The latter behavior is just wrong. There's no reason
> >> > > that ptrace should not be able to observe and even change
> >> > > (non-SIGKILL) forced signals.  It should be reverted.
> >> > >
> >> > > This behavior change is also observable in gdb. If you take a program
> >> > > that sets SIGSYS to SIG_IGN and then raises a SIGSYS via
> >> > > SECCOMP_RET_TRAP and run it under gdb on a good kernel gdb will stop
> >> > > when the SIGSYS is raised, let you inspect program state, etc. After
> >> > > the SA_IMMUTABLE change gdb won't stop until the program has already
> >> > > died of SIGSYS.
> >> >
> >> > Ah, hm, this was trying to fix the case where a program trips
> >> > SECCOMP_RET_KILL (which is a "fatal SIGSYS"), and had been unobservable
> >> > before. I guess the fix was too broad...
> >>
> >> Perhaps I don't understand precisely what you mean by this, but gdb's
> >> behavior for a program that is SECCOMP_RET_KILLed was not changed by
> >> this patch (the SIGSYS is not observed until after program exit before
> >> or after this change).
> >
> > Ah, maybe that behavior changed in 5.15 (my "before" here is a 5.14
> > kernel).  I would argue that the debugger seeing the SIGSYS for
> > SECCOMP_RET_KILL is desirable though ...
> This is definitely worth discussing, and probably in need of fixing (aka
> something in rr seems to have broken).

I mean this in the nicest possible way: fixing this is not optional.

> We definitely need protection against the race with sigaction.

Sure, no argument here, and that doesn't cause any problems for us.

> The fundamental question becomes does it make sense and is it safe
> to allow a debugger to stop at, and possibly change these signals.

And the answer is yes, because at least some of these signals are
generated by actions of the debugger (e.g. setting a breakpoint).

> Stopping at something SA_IMMUTABLE as long as the signal is allowed to
> continue and kill the process when PTRACE_CONT happens seems harmless.
> Allowing the debugger to change the signal, or change it's handling
> I don't know.

This is required to support breakpoints.

> All of this is channeled through the following function.
> > static int
> > force_sig_info_to_task(struct kernel_siginfo *info, struct task_struct *t, bool sigdfl)
> > {
> >       unsigned long int flags;
> >       int ret, blocked, ignored;
> >       struct k_sigaction *action;
> >       int sig = info->si_signo;
> >
> >       spin_lock_irqsave(&t->sighand->siglock, flags);
> >       action = &t->sighand->action[sig-1];
> >       ignored = action->sa.sa_handler == SIG_IGN;
> >       blocked = sigismember(&t->blocked, sig);
> >       if (blocked || ignored || sigdfl) {
> >               action->sa.sa_handler = SIG_DFL;
> >               action->sa.sa_flags |= SA_IMMUTABLE;
> >               if (blocked) {
> >                       sigdelset(&t->blocked, sig);
> >                       recalc_sigpending_and_wake(t);
> >               }
> >       }
> >       /*
> >        * Don't clear SIGNAL_UNKILLABLE for traced tasks, users won't expect
> >        * debugging to leave init killable.
> >        */
> >       if (action->sa.sa_handler == SIG_DFL && !t->ptrace)
> >               t->signal->flags &= ~SIGNAL_UNKILLABLE;
> >       ret = send_signal(sig, info, t, PIDTYPE_PID);
> >       spin_unlock_irqrestore(&t->sighand->siglock, flags);
> >
> >       return ret;
> > }
> Right now we have 3 conditions that trigger SA_IMMUTABLE.
> - The sigdfl parameter is passed asking that userspace not be able to
>   change the handling of the signal.
> - A synchronous exception is taken and the signal is blocked.
> - A synchronous exception is taken and the signal is ignored.

Delivering signals to a ptracee in the latter two cases is simply not
optional. As it stands with your change, a program that blocks SIGTRAP
or sets its SIGTRAP handler to SIG_IGN becomes undebuggable.  If a
debugger injects a breakpoint or uses PTRACE_SINGLESTEP on a tracee
the delivery of that signal can't be controlled by the tracee's signal

> Today because of how things are implemented the code most change the
> userspace state to allow the signal to kill the process.  I really want
> to get rid of that, because that has other side effects.  As part of
> getting rid of changing the state it is my plan to get rid of
> SA_IMMUTABLE as well.  If I don't have to allow the debugger to stop and
> observe what is happening with the signal that change is much easier to
> implement.
> The classic trigger of sigdfl is a recursive SIGSEGV.
> However we have other cases like SECCOMP_RET_KILL where the kernel
> has never allowed userspace to intercept the killing of the
> process.  Things that have messages like: "seccomp tried to change
> syscall nr or ip"
> My brain is drawing a blank on how to analyze those.
> Kees I am back to asking the question I had before I figured out
> SA_IMMUTABLE.  Are there security concerns with debuggers intercepting
> I think I can modify dequeue_synchronous_signal so that we can perform
> the necessary logic in get_signal rather than hack up the signal
> handling state in force_sig_info_to_task.
> Except for the cases like SECCOMP_RET_KILL where the kernel has never
> allowed userspace to intercept the handling.  I don't see any
> fundamental reason why ptrace could not intercept the signal.  The
> handling is overriden to force the process to die, because the way
> userspace is currently configured to handle the signal does not work so
> it is necessary to kill the process.
> I think there are cases where the userspace state is known to be
> sufficiently wrong that the kernel can not safely allow anything more
> than inspecting the state.
> I can revisit the code to see if the kernel will get confused if
> something more is allowed.  Still I really like the current semantics of
> SA_IMMUTABLE because these are cases where something wrong.  If someone
> miscalculates how things are wrong it could result in the kernel getting
> confused and doing the wrong thing.  Allowing the debugger to intercept
> the signal requires we risk miscalculating what is wrong.
> Kyle how exactly is rr broken?  Certainly a historical usage does not
> work.  How does this affect actual real world debugging sessions?

rr is broken across the board because of specific things related to
its handling of exit_group (namely we first block all signals in the
tracee, so that we don't catch a signal during our handling of it,
then we hijack the tracee to do some cleanup before exit_group is
really allowed to execute, and we use e.g. PTRACE_SINGLESTEP that
expects to punch through the signal blocking). But even if I fixed
that, I expect there would be other issues. The expectation that these
signals will be delivered is deeply embedded.

> You noticed this and bisected the change quickly so I fully expect
> this does affect real world debugging sessions.  I just want to know
> exactly how so that exactly what is wrong can be fixed.

I noticed this because we have a test suite we run against new kernel
releases precisely to catch regressions like this.

You don't need rr to reproduce the underlying issue though.  Compile
the following

#include <signal.h>
#include <stdio.h>

int main() {
  signal(SIGTRAP, SIG_IGN);
  printf("Hello World\n");
  return 0;

And try to break on the printf under gdb.  After you fix that (and the
equivalent where SIGTRAP is blocked) rr should be fine.

- Kyle

> As far as I can tell SA_IMMUTABLE has only been backported to v5.15.x
> where in cleaning things up I made SECCOMP_RET_KILL susceptible to races
> with sigaction, and ptrace.  Those races need to be closed or we need to
> decide that we don't actually care if the debugger does things.
> Eric

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