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  PHC 
Open Source and information security mailing list archives
Hash Suite: Windows password security audit tool. GUI, reports in PDF.
[<prev] [next>] [<thread-prev] [day] [month] [year] [list]
Date:	Wed, 11 Dec 2013 17:14:09 -0800
From: (Eric W. Biederman)
To:	Kees Cook <>
Cc:	LKML <>,
	Rik van Riel <>,
	Andrew Morton <>,
	Matthew Garrett <>,
	Vivek Goyal <>, Rob Landley <>,
	Ingo Molnar <>,
	Peter Zijlstra <>,
	Mel Gorman <>,
	"linux-doc\" <>,, "H. Peter Anvin" <>
Subject: Re: [PATCH v2] kexec: add sysctl to disable kexec

Kees Cook <> writes:

> On Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 3:15 PM, Eric W. Biederman
> <> wrote:
>> Kees Cook <> writes:
>>> On Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 9:52 AM, Eric W. Biederman
>>> <> wrote:
>>>> Kees Cook <> writes:
>>>>> For general-purpose (i.e. distro) kernel builds it makes sense to build with
>>>>> CONFIG_KEXEC to allow end users to choose what kind of things they want to do
>>>>> with kexec. However, in the face of trying to lock down a system with such
>>>>> a kernel, there needs to be a way to disable kexec (much like module loading
>>>>> can be disabled). Without this, it is too easy for the root user to modify
>>>>> kernel memory even when CONFIG_STRICT_DEVMEM and modules_disabled are
>>>>> set.
>>>> So let me get this straight.  You object to what happens in sys_reboot
>>>> so you patch sys_kexec_load?
>>> Yes; it's the entry point for loading the image used for crashes and
>>>> You give someone the privilege to boot whatever they want and yet you
>>>> don't want to support them booting whatever they want?
>>>> I'm sorry my brain is hurting trying to understand the logic of this
>>>> patch.
>>> I'm not trying to claim this fixes all attack vectors from a root
>>> user. That is exceedingly hard. :) However, kexec gives the root user
>>> a trivial (and undetectable) way to modify the running kernel.
>>> Providing an option to block sys_kexec_load for systems that will
>>> never use it (or will use it once at startup) is valuable in several
>>> situations. There's no reason to make an attacker's job easier, and
>>> this doesn't get in any one else's way.
>> I am simply trying to point out your patch is incomplete and silly as
>> presented.
>> LINUX_REBOOT_CMD_KEXEC should be disabled if you are calling the sysctl
>> kexec_disable.  If you want to it to be kexec_load_disable please call
>> it that.  A kexec_load_disable is a different thing than a
>> kexec_disable.
>> A kexec_disable would block both sys_kexec_load and
>> sys_reboot(LINUX_REBOOT_CMD_KEXEC) and would remove any staged kexec
>> images.  Allowing you to stop considering kexec past that point from a
>> security analysis perspective.  That is what it sounds like you want.
>> What I am asking for is an problem description and an implementation
>> that are in sync, and a problem description that people can look at and
>> say was this a complete implementation.
>> Right now I can not tell what was intended so I can not truly tell if
>> the patch is correct.  Code with that property does not serve anyone any
>> good, especially as the kernel evolves.
>> So please decide if you want kexec_disable or kexec_load_disable, or if
>> you want something a little more nuanced.
>> Right now I think a full and complete kexec_disable makes sense.  I
>> probably won't use it but I think it makes sense.  Your patch
>> implementiong kexec_load_disable seems to be a half solution that tries
>> to please everyone and does not serve anyone well.  So I don't see the
>> point.
> Sure, it seems reasonable to clarify it's purpose. I would like block
> _changes_ to the kexec image. In the case of systems not using kexec,
> this freezes it to "no kexec image", for those with a crash kernel, it
> freezes it to just that image, and makes sure it can't change until
> reboot. Blocking LINUX_REBOOT_CMD_KEXEC doesn't make sense in the
> latter sense, so it seems like changing the sysctl to
> "kexec_load_disable" is the sensible direction. I can send a v3 that
> changes the name and clarifies the purpose and potential uses.

The name change is definitely needed.

My concern from the conversation.  Is there anyone we actually expect to
use the functionality of loading an image and then disabling kexec_load?

>From the earlier discussion it appeared that no one could actually
figure out how to practically use the functionality of loading a kexec
on panic image and then disabling kexec.  Not to mention the weirdness
caused by cpu/memory hotplug which trigger a need to reload the kexec on
panic kernel.

If there is not a clear use case for limiting ourselves to just the
loaded kexec images my preference would be to make it a big hammer that
disabled kexec_load and LINUX_REBOOT_CMD_KEXEC, as that is easier to
reason about.

To unsubscribe from this list: send the line "unsubscribe linux-kernel" in
the body of a message to
More majordomo info at
Please read the FAQ at

Powered by blists - more mailing lists