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Date:   Tue, 12 Jan 2021 09:51:24 -0800
From:   Suren Baghdasaryan <>
To:     Oleg Nesterov <>
Cc:     Michal Hocko <>,
        Andrew Morton <>,
        Jann Horn <>,
        Kees Cook <>,
        Jeffrey Vander Stoep <>,
        Minchan Kim <>,
        Shakeel Butt <>,
        David Rientjes <>,
        Edgar Arriaga GarcĂ­a <>,
        Tim Murray <>,
        linux-mm <>,,
        Linux API <>,
        LKML <>,
        kernel-team <>
Subject: Re: [PATCH v2 1/1] mm/madvise: replace ptrace attach requirement for process_madvise

On Tue, Jan 12, 2021 at 9:45 AM Oleg Nesterov <> wrote:
> On 01/12, Michal Hocko wrote:
> >
> > On Mon 11-01-21 09:06:22, Suren Baghdasaryan wrote:
> >
> > > What we want is the ability for one process to influence another process
> > > in order to optimize performance across the entire system while leaving
> > > the security boundary intact.
> > > Replace PTRACE_MODE_ATTACH with a combination of PTRACE_MODE_READ
> > > and CAP_SYS_NICE. PTRACE_MODE_READ to prevent leaking ASLR metadata
> > > and CAP_SYS_NICE for influencing process performance.
> >
> > I have to say that ptrace modes are rather obscure to me. So I cannot
> > really judge whether MODE_READ is sufficient. My understanding has
> > always been that this is requred to RO access to the address space. But
> > this operation clearly has a visible side effect. Do we have any actual
> > documentation for the existing modes?
> >
> > I would be really curious to hear from Jann and Oleg (now Cced).
> Can't comment, sorry. I never understood these security checks and never tried.
> IIUC only selinux/etc can treat ATTACH/READ differently and I have no idea what
> is the difference.

I haven't seen a written explanation on ptrace modes but when I
consulted Jann his explanation was:

PTRACE_MODE_READ means you can inspect metadata about processes with
the specified domain, across UID boundaries.
PTRACE_MODE_ATTACH means you can fully impersonate processes with the
specified domain, across UID boundaries.

He did agree that in this case PTRACE_MODE_ATTACH seems too
restrictive (we do not try to gain full control or impersonate a
process) and PTRACE_MODE_READ is a better choice.

> Oleg.

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