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Date:   Wed, 26 Jan 2022 11:58:39 -0800
From:   Kees Cook <keescook@...omium.org>
To:     Jann Horn <jannh@...gle.com>
Cc:     Ariadne Conill <ariadne@...eferenced.org>,
        Michael Kerrisk <mtk.manpages@...il.com>,
        Matthew Wilcox <willy@...radead.org>,
        Christian Brauner <brauner@...nel.org>,
        Rich Felker <dalias@...c.org>,
        Eric Biederman <ebiederm@...ssion.com>,
        Alexander Viro <viro@...iv.linux.org.uk>,
        linux-fsdevel@...r.kernel.org, stable@...r.kernel.org,
        linux-kernel@...r.kernel.org, linux-hardening@...r.kernel.org
Subject: Re: [PATCH] fs/binfmt_elf: Add padding NULL when argc == 0

On Wed, Jan 26, 2022 at 08:50:39PM +0100, Jann Horn wrote:
> On Wed, Jan 26, 2022 at 7:42 PM Ariadne Conill <ariadne@...eferenced.org> wrote:
> > On Wed, 26 Jan 2022, Jann Horn wrote:
> > > On Wed, Jan 26, 2022 at 6:58 PM Kees Cook <keescook@...omium.org> wrote:
> > >> Quoting Ariadne Conill:
> > >>
> > >> "In several other operating systems, it is a hard requirement that the
> > >> first argument to execve(2) be the name of a program, thus prohibiting
> > >> a scenario where argc < 1. POSIX 2017 also recommends this behaviour,
> > >> but it is not an explicit requirement[1]:
> > >>
> > >>     The argument arg0 should point to a filename string that is
> > >>     associated with the process being started by one of the exec
> > >>     functions.
> > >> ...
> > >> Interestingly, Michael Kerrisk opened an issue about this in 2008[2],
> > >> but there was no consensus to support fixing this issue then.
> > >> Hopefully now that CVE-2021-4034 shows practical exploitative use[3]
> > >> of this bug in a shellcode, we can reconsider."
> > >>
> > >> An examination of existing[4] users of execve(..., NULL, NULL) shows
> > >> mostly test code, or example rootkit code. While rejecting a NULL argv
> > >> would be preferred, it looks like the main cause of userspace confusion
> > >> is an assumption that argc >= 1, and buggy programs may skip argv[0]
> > >> when iterating. To protect against userspace bugs of this nature, insert
> > >> an extra NULL pointer in argv when argc == 0, so that argv[1] != envp[0].
> > >>
> > >> Note that this is only done in the argc == 0 case because some userspace
> > >> programs expect to find envp at exactly argv[argc]. The overlap of these
> > >> two misguided assumptions is believed to be zero.
> > >
> > > Will this result in the executed program being told that argc==0 but
> > > having an extra NULL pointer on the stack?
> > > If so, I believe this breaks the x86-64 ABI documented at
> > > https://refspecs.linuxbase.org/elf/x86_64-abi-0.99.pdf - page 29,
> > > figure 3.9 describes the layout of the initial process stack.
> >
> > I'm presently compiling a kernel with the patch to see if it works or not.
> >
> > > Actually, does this even work? Can a program still properly access its
> > > environment variables when invoked with argc==0 with this patch
> > > applied? AFAIU the way userspace locates envv on x86-64 is by
> > > calculating 8*(argc+1)?
> >
> > In the other thread, it was suggested that perhaps we should set up an
> > argv of {"", NULL}.  In that case, it seems like it would be safe to claim
> > argc == 1.
> >
> > What do you think?
> 
> Sounds good to me, since that's something that could also happen
> normally if userspace calls execve(..., {"", NULL}, ...).
> 
> (I'd like it even better if we could just bail out with an error code,
> but I guess the risk of breakage might be too high with that
> approach?)

We can't mutate argc; it'll turn at least some userspace into an
infinite loop:
https://sources.debian.org/src/valgrind/1:3.18.1-1/none/tests/execve.c/?hl=22#L22

-- 
Kees Cook

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