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Date:   Thu, 21 Apr 2022 16:35:15 +0100
From:   Catalin Marinas <>
To:     Kees Cook <>
Cc:     Topi Miettinen <>,
        Andrew Morton <>,
        Christoph Hellwig <>,
        Lennart Poettering <>,
        Zbigniew Jędrzejewski-Szmek <>,
        Will Deacon <>,
        Alexander Viro <>,
        Eric Biederman <>,
        Szabolcs Nagy <>,
        Mark Brown <>,
        Jeremy Linton <>,,,,,, Jann Horn <>,
        Salvatore Mesoraca <>,
        Igor Zhbanov <>
Subject: Re: [PATCH RFC 0/4] mm, arm64: In-kernel support for
 memory-deny-write-execute (MDWE)

On Wed, Apr 20, 2022 at 04:21:45PM -0700, Kees Cook wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 20, 2022 at 10:34:33PM +0300, Topi Miettinen wrote:
> > For systemd, feature compatibility with the BPF version is important so that
> > we could automatically switch to the kernel version once available without
> > regressions. So I think PR_MDWX_MMAP (or maybe PR_MDWX_COMPAT) should match
> > exactly what MemoryDenyWriteExecute=yes as implemented with BPF has: only
> > forbid mmap(PROT_EXEC|PROT_WRITE) and mprotect(PROT_EXEC). Like BPF, once
> > installed there should be no way to escape and ELF flags should be also
> > ignored. ARM BTI should be allowed though (allow PROT_EXEC|PROT_BTI if the
> > old flags had PROT_EXEC).

I agree.

> > Then we could have improved versions (other PR_MDWX_ prctls) with lots more
> > checks. This could be enabled with MemoryDenyWriteExecute=strict or so.
> > 
> > Perhaps also more relaxed versions (like SARA) could be interesting (system
> > service running Python with FFI, or perhaps JVM etc), enabled with for
> > example MemoryDenyWriteExecute=trampolines. That way even those programs
> > would get some protection (though there would be a gap in the defences).
> Yup, I think we're all on the same page. Catalin, can you respin with a
> prctl for enabling MDWE? I propose just:
> 	prctl(PR_MDWX_SET, flags);
> 	prctl(PR_MDWX_GET);
> 		disallows PROT_EXEC on any VMA that is or was PROT_WRITE,
> 		covering at least: mmap, mprotect, pkey_mprotect, and shmat.

Do we want the "was PROT_WRITE" or we just reject mprotect(PROT_EXEC) if
the vma is not already PROT_EXEC? The latter is closer to the current
systemd approach. The former allows an mprotect(PROT_EXEC) if the
mapping was PROT_READ only for example.

I'd drop the "was PROT_WRITE" for now if the aim is a drop-in
replacement for BPF MDWE.


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