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Date:   Mon, 27 Nov 2017 18:18:33 +0100
From:   Djalal Harouni <>
To:     Kees Cook <>,
        Andy Lutomirski <>,
        Andrew Morton <>,
        "Luis R. Rodriguez" <>,
        James Morris <>,
        Ben Hutchings <>,
        Solar Designer <>,
        Serge Hallyn <>, Jessica Yu <>,
        Rusty Russell <>,,,
Cc:     Jonathan Corbet <>, Ingo Molnar <>,
        "David S. Miller" <>,,
        Peter Zijlstra <>,
        Linus Torvalds <>,
        Djalal Harouni <>
Subject: [PATCH v5 next 0/5] Improve Module autoloading infrastructure

Hi List,

This is v5 of automatic module load restriction series. I have renamed
it to 'Improve Module autoloading infrastructure' for abvious reasons:

* It is more of an infrastructure change now.
* Reduce the use of word 'restriction' and use 'improving' maybe easy
  to sell  ?

These patches are based on next-20171127

The idea was inspired from grsecurity 'GRKERNSEC_MODHARDEN' config option.
However, upstream Linux implementation is more focused on the run-time
behavior with a three mode switch, plus upstream version solves Linux
usecases with a per process tree flag that can be used in containers,
sandboxes, etc to block direct implicit auto-load operations.
This implementation does not share anything with grsecurity.

The first RFC was as LSM, Kees Cook and others suggested that it can be
turned as a core kernel feature and after some months, they were right.

Previous versions:

v1 RFC as an LSM:

v2 RFC as an LSM:

v3 core feature as requested by kernel maintainers:


All previous feedback from: Andy Lutomirski, Solar Designer, Kees Cook,
Rusty Russell, Ben Hutchings and Serge Hallyn is fixed in this series.

Please check Changelog for details. Thank you for the feedback.


Currently, an explicit call to load or unload kernel modules require
CAP_SYS_MODULE capability. However unprivileged users have always been
able to load some modules using the implicit auto-load operation. An
automatic module loading happens when programs request a kernel feature
from a module that is not loaded. In order to satisfy userspace, the
kernel then automatically load all these required modules.

Historically, the kernel was always able to automatically load modules
if they are not blacklisted. This is one of the most important and
transparent operations of Linux, it allows to provide numerous other
features as they are needed which is crucial for a better user experience.
However, as Linux is popular now and used for different appliances some
of these may need to control such operations. For such systems, recent
needs showed that in some cases allowing to control automatic module
loading is as important as the operation itself. Restricting unprivileged
programs or attackers that abuse this feature to load unused modules or
modules that contain bugs is a significant security measure.

This allows administrators or some special programs to have the
appropriate time to update and deny module autoloading in advance, then
blacklist the corresponding ones. Not doing so may affect the global state
of the machine, especially containers where some apps are moved from one
context to another and not having such mechanisms may allow to expose
and exploit the vulnerable parts to escape the container sandbox.

Embedded or IoT devices also started to ship as containers using generic
distros, some vendors do not have the appropriate time to make their own
OS, hence, using base images is getting popular. These setups may include
unnecessary modules that the final applications will not need. Untrusted
access may abuse the module auto-load feature to expose vulnerabilities.

As every code contains bugs or vulnerabilties, the following
vulnerabilities that affected some features that are often compiled as
modules could have been completely blocked, by a better mechanism that
handles module autoloading, especially if the system does not need them.

Past months:
* DCCP use after free CVE-2017-6074 [1] [2]
  Unprivileged to local root.

* XFRM framework CVE-2017-7184 [3]
  As advertised it seems it was used to break Ubuntu on a security

* n_hldc CVE-2017-2636 [4] [5]
  Local privilege escalation. 

* L2TPv3 CVE-2016-10200

The list is longer.

To improve the current status, this series tries to re-work how module
autoloading is performed by adding two new properties:
"modules_autoload_mode" sysctl flag, and a per-task one.

The sysctl controls modules auto-load feature and complements
"modules_disabled" which apply to all modules operations. This new flag
allows to control only automatic module loading and if it is allowed or
not, aligning in the process the implicit operation with the explicit one
where both now are covered by capabilities checks.

The three modes that "modules_autoload_mode" support allow to provide
restrictions on automatic module loading without breaking user

The sysctl flag is available at "/proc/sys/kernel/modules_autoload_mode"

When modules_autoload_mode is set to (0), the default, there are no

When modules_autoload_mode is set to (1), processes must have
CAP_SYS_MODULE to be able to trigger a module auto-load operation,
or CAP_NET_ADMIN for modules with a 'netdev-%s' alias, or other
capabilities for specific aliased modules.

When modules_autoload_mode is set to (2), automatic module loading
is disabled for all.

Notes on relation between "modules_disabled=0" and
1) Once "modules_disabled=1" set, it needs a reboot to undo the

2) Restricting automatic module loading does not interfere with
explicit module load or unload operations.

3) New features provided by modules can be made available without
rebooting the system.

4) A bad version of a module can be unloaded and replaced with a
better one without rebooting the system.


The patches also support process trees, containers, and sandboxes by
providing an inherited per-task "modules_autoload_mode" flag that cannot be
re-enabled once disabled. This offers the following advantages:

1) Automatic module loading is still available to the rest of the

2) It is easy to use in containers and sandboxes. DCCP example could
have been used to escape containers. The XFRM framework CVE-2017-7184
needs CAP_NET_ADMIN, but attackers may start to target CAP_NET_ADMIN,
a per-task flag will make it harder.

3) Suitable for desktop and more interactive Linux systems.

4) Will allow in future to implement a per user policy.
The user database format is old and not extensible, as discussed maybe
with a modern format we may achieve the following:


Which means that that interactive user will be allowed to load extra
Linux features. Others, volatile accounts or guests can be easily
blocked from doing so.

5) CAP_NET_ADMIN is useful, it handles lot of operations, at same time it
started to look more like CAP_SYS_ADMIN which is overloaded. We need
CAP_NET_ADMIN, containers need it, but at same time maybe we do not
want programs running with it to load 'netdev-%s' modules. Having an
extra per-task flag allow to discharge a bit CAP_NET_ADMIN and clearly
target automatic module loading operations.

        prctl(PR_SET_MODULES_AUTOLOAD_mode, value, 0, 0, 0).

The per-task "modules_autoload_mode" supports the following values:
0       There are no restrictions, usually the default unless set
        by parent.
1       The task must have CAP_SYS_MODULE to be able to trigger a
        module auto-load operation, or CAP_NET_ADMIN for modules with
        a 'netdev-%s' alias.
2       Automatic modules loading is disabled for the current task.

The mode may only be increased, never decreased, thus ensuring that once
applied, processes can never relax their setting. This make it easy for
developers and users to handle.

Note that even if the per-task "modules_autoload_mode" allows to auto-load
the corresponding modules, automatic module loading may still fail due to
the global sysctl "modules_autoload_mode". For more details please see
Documentation/sysctl/kernel.txt, section "modules_autoload_mode".

When a request to a kernel module is denied, the module name with the
corresponding process name and its pid are logged. Administrators can use
such information to explicitly load the appropriate modules.

# Testing:

##) Global sysctl "modules_autoload_mode"

Before patch:
$ lsmod | grep ipip -
$ sudo ip tunnel add mytun mode ipip remote local ttl 255
$ lsmod | grep ipip -
ipip                   16384  0
tunnel4                16384  1 ipip
ip_tunnel              28672  1 ipip
$ cat /proc/sys/kernel/modules_autoload_mode

After patch:
$ lsmod | grep ipip -
# echo 2 > /proc/sys/kernel/modules_autoload_mode
$ sudo ip tunnel add mytun mode ipip remote local ttl 255
add tunnel "tunl0" failed: No such device
$ dmesg
[ 1876.378389] module: automatic module loading of netdev-tunl0 by "ip"[1453] was denied
[ 1876.380994] module: automatic module loading of tunl0 by "ip"[1453] was denied
$ lsmod | grep ipip -

##) Per-task "modules_autoload_mode" flag

Here we use DCCP as an example since the public PoC was against it.

The following tool can be used to test the feature:

DCCP use after free CVE-2017-6074 (unprivileged to local root):
The code path can be triggered by unprivileged, using the trigger.c
program for DCCP use after free [2] and that was fixed by
commit 5edabca9d4cff7f "dccp: fix freeing skb too early for IPV6_RECVPKTINFO".

Before patch:
$ lsmod | grep dccp
$ strace ./dccp_trigger
$ lsmod | grep dccp
dccp_ipv6              24576  5
dccp_ipv4              24576  5 dccp_ipv6
dccp                  102400  2 dccp_ipv6,dccp_ipv4
$ grep Modules /proc/self/status
ModulesAutoloadMode:    0

Set task "modules_autoload_mode" to 1, privileged mode.
$ lsmod | grep dccp
$ ./pr_set_no_new_privs
$ grep NoNewPrivs /proc/self/status
NoNewPrivs:     1
$ ./pr_modules_autoload_mode_test 1
$ grep Modules /proc/self/status
ModulesAutoloadMode:    1
$ strace ./dccp_trigger
socket(AF_INET6, SOCK_DCCP, IPPROTO_IP) = -1 ESOCKTNOSUPPORT (Socket type not supported)
$ lsmod | grep dccp
$ dmesg
[ 4662.171994] module: automatic module loading of net-pf-10-proto-0-type-6 by "dccp_trigger"[1759] was denied
[ 4662.177284] module: automatic module loading of net-pf-10-proto-0 by "dccp_trigger"[1759] was denied
[ 4662.180181] module: automatic module loading of net-pf-10-proto-0-type-6 by "dccp_trigger"[1759] was denied
[ 4662.181709] module: automatic module loading of net-pf-10-proto-0 by "dccp_trigger"[1759] was denied

Now task "modules_autoload_mode" to 2, disabled mode.
$ lsmod | grep dccp
$ grep Modules /proc/self/status
ModulesAutoloadMode:    0
$ su - root
 # ./pr_modules_autoload_mode_test 2
 # grep Modules /proc/self/status
ModulesAutoloadMode:    2
 # strace ./dccp_trigger

socket(AF_INET6, SOCK_DCCP, IPPROTO_IP) = -1 ESOCKTNOSUPPORT (Socket type not supported)
[ 5154.218740] module: automatic module loading of net-pf-10-proto-0-type-6 by "dccp_trigger"[1873] was denied
[ 5154.219828] module: automatic module loading of net-pf-10-proto-0 by "dccp_trigger"[1873] was denied
[ 5154.221814] module: automatic module loading of net-pf-10-proto-0-type-6 by "dccp_trigger"[1873] was denied
[ 5154.222731] module: automatic module loading of net-pf-10-proto-0 by "dccp_trigger"[1873] was denied

As showed, this blocks automatic module loading per-task. This allows to
provide a usable system, where only some sandboxed apps or containers will be
restricted to trigger automatic module loading, other parts of the
system can continue to use the feature as it is which is the case of the
desktop and userfriendly machines.


Finally we already have a use case for the prctl() interface to enforce
some systemd services, in docker and other containers, also in some
sandboxes, etc.

# Changes since v4:
*) Removed the property that when the "modules_autoload_mode" sysctl is
   set to "2" disabled mode, then that value is pinned and we can not
   revert it. Now you can undo the value if you have the appropriate
   privileges as it was suggested.

   Suggested-by: Solar Designer <>
   Suggested-by: Andy Lutomirski <>

*) Added request_module_cap() to take '@...uired_cap' and '@...fix'
   arguments that will be used to check if module autoloading is allowed
   or not.

   Suggested-by: Kees Cook <>

*) More cleanups and documentation.

# Changes since v3:
*) Renamed the sysctl from "modules_autoload" to "modules_autoload_mode"
   and the prctl() operation flag to "PR_{SET|GET}_MODULES_AUTOLOAD_MODE"
   as it was requested.

   Suggested-by: Ben Hutchings <>

*) Updated __request_module() to take the capability that may allow to
   auto-load a module with the appropriate alias. This way we never
   parse aliases as it was requested by Rusty Russell. Security and
   SELinux hooks were updated too.

   Suggested-by: Rusty Russell <>

*) Updated code to set prctl(PR_SET_MODULES_AUTOLOAD_MODE, 1, 0, 0, 0),
   the task must call prctl(PR_SET_NO_NEW_PRIVS, 1) before or run with
   CAP_SYS_ADMIN privileges in its namespace. If these are not true,
   -EACCES will be returned.

   Suggested-by: Andy Lutomirski <>

*) Remove task initialization logic and other cleanups
   Suggested-by: Kees Cook <>

*) Other code and documentation cleanups.

# Changes since v2:
*) Implemented as a core kernel feature inside capabilities subsystem
*) Renamed sysctl to "modules_autoload" to align with "modules_disabled"

   Suggested-by: Kees Cook <>

*) Improved documentation.
*) Removed unused code.

# Changes since v1:
*) Renamed module to ModAutoRestrict
*) Improved documentation to explicity refer to module autoloading.
*) Switched to use the new task_security_alloc() hook.
*) Switched from rhash tables to use task->security since it is in
   linux-security/next branch now.
*) Check all parameters passed to prctl() syscall.
*) Many other bug fixes and documentation improvements.

Patches (5) Djalal Harouni:
 (1/5) modules:capabilities: add request_module_cap()
 (2/5) modules:capabilities: add cap_kernel_module_request() permission check
 (3/5) modules:capabilities: automatic module loading restriction
 (4/5) modules:capabilities: add a per-task modules auto-load mode
 (5/5) net: modules: use request_module_cap() to load 'netdev-%s' modules

 Documentation/filesystems/proc.txt                 |   3 +
 Documentation/sysctl/kernel.txt                    |  54 ++++++++
 Documentation/userspace-api/index.rst              |   1 +
 .../userspace-api/modules_autoload_mode.rst        | 116 ++++++++++++++++
 fs/proc/array.c                                    |   6 +
 include/linux/init_task.h                          |   8 ++
 include/linux/kmod.h                               |  65 ++++++++-
 include/linux/lsm_hooks.h                          |   6 +-
 include/linux/module.h                             |  41 +++++-
 include/linux/sched.h                              |   5 +
 include/linux/security.h                           |  11 +-
 include/uapi/linux/prctl.h                         |   8 ++
 kernel/kmod.c                                      |  29 +++-
 kernel/module.c                                    | 153 +++++++++++++++++++++
 kernel/sysctl.c                                    |  28 ++++
 net/core/dev_ioctl.c                               |   4 +-
 security/commoncap.c                               |  62 +++++++++
 security/security.c                                |   6 +-
 security/selinux/hooks.c                           |   3 +-
 19 files changed, 587 insertions(+), 22 deletions(-)

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