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Date:   Wed, 08 Apr 2020 23:21:40 +0200
From:   Toke Høiland-Jørgensen <>
To:     Andrii Nakryiko <>
Cc:     Andrii Nakryiko <>, bpf <>,
        Networking <>,
        Alexei Starovoitov <>,
        Daniel Borkmann <>,
        Kernel Team <>
Subject: Re: [RFC PATCH bpf-next 4/8] bpf: support GET_FD_BY_ID and GET_NEXT_ID for bpf_link

Andrii Nakryiko <> writes:

> On Wed, Apr 8, 2020 at 8:14 AM Toke Høiland-Jørgensen <> wrote:
>> Andrii Nakryiko <> writes:
>> > On Mon, Apr 6, 2020 at 4:34 AM Toke Høiland-Jørgensen <> wrote:
>> >>
>> >> Andrii Nakryiko <> writes:
>> >>
>> >> > Add support to look up bpf_link by ID and iterate over all existing bpf_links
>> >> > in the system. GET_FD_BY_ID code handles not-yet-ready bpf_link by checking
>> >> > that its ID hasn't been set to non-zero value yet. Setting bpf_link's ID is
>> >> > done as the very last step in finalizing bpf_link, together with installing
>> >> > FD. This approach allows users of bpf_link in kernel code to not worry about
>> >> > races between user-space and kernel code that hasn't finished attaching and
>> >> > initializing bpf_link.
>> >> >
>> >> > Further, it's critical that BPF_LINK_GET_FD_BY_ID only ever allows to create
>> >> > bpf_link FD that's O_RDONLY. This is to protect processes owning bpf_link and
>> >> > thus allowed to perform modifications on them (like LINK_UPDATE), from other
>> >> > processes that got bpf_link ID from GET_NEXT_ID API. In the latter case, only
>> >> > querying bpf_link information (implemented later in the series) will be
>> >> > allowed.
>> >>
>> >> I must admit I remain sceptical about this model of restricting access
>> >> without any of the regular override mechanisms (for instance, enforcing
>> >> read-only mode regardless of CAP_DAC_OVERRIDE in this series). Since you
>> >> keep saying there would be 'some' override mechanism, I think it would
>> >> be helpful if you could just include that so we can see the full
>> >> mechanism in context.
>> >
>> > I wasn't aware of CAP_DAC_OVERRIDE, thanks for bringing this up.
>> >
>> > One way to go about this is to allow creating writable bpf_link for
>> > GET_FD_BY_ID if CAP_DAC_OVERRIDE is set. Then we can allow LINK_DETACH
>> > operation on writable links, same as we do with LINK_UPDATE here.
>> > LINK_DETACH will do the same as cgroup bpf_link auto-detachment on
>> > cgroup dying: it will detach bpf_link, but will leave it alive until
>> > last FD is closed.
>> Yup, I think this would be a reasonable way to implement the override
>> mechanism - it would ensure 'full root' users (like a root shell) can
>> remove attachments, while still preventing applications from doing so by
>> limiting their capabilities.
> So I did some experiments and I think I want to keep GET_FD_BY_ID for
> bpf_link to return only read-only bpf_links.

Why, exactly? (also, see below)

> After that, one can pin bpf_link temporarily and re-open it as
> writable one, provided CAP_DAC_OVERRIDE capability is present. All
> that works already, because pinned bpf_link is just a file, so one can
> do fchmod on it and all that will go through normal file access
> permission check code path.

Ah, I did not know that was possible - I was assuming that bpffs was
doing something special to prevent that. But if not, great!

> Unfortunately, just re-opening same FD as writable (which would
> be possible if fcntl(fd, F_SETFL, S_IRUSR
>  S_IWUSR) was supported on Linux) without pinning is not possible.
> Opening link from /proc/<pid>/fd/<link-fd> doesn't seem to work
> either, because backing inode is not BPF FS inode. I'm not sure, but
> maybe we can support the latter eventually. But either way, I think
> given this is to be used for manual troubleshooting, going through few
> extra hoops to force-detach bpf_link is actually a good thing.

Hmm, I disagree that deliberately making users jump through hoops is a
good thing. Smells an awful lot like security through obscurity to me;
and we all know how well that works anyway...

>> Extending on the concept of RO/RW bpf_link attachments, maybe it should
>> even be possible for an application to choose which mode it wants to pin
>> its fd in? With the same capability being able to override it of
>> course...
> Isn't that what patch #2 is doing?...

Ah yes, so it is! I guess I skipped over that a bit too fast ;)

> There are few bugs in the implementation currently, but it will work
> in the final version.


>> > We need to consider, though, if CAP_DAC_OVERRIDE is something that can
>> > be disabled for majority of real-life applications to prevent them
>> > from doing this. If every realistic application has/needs
>> > CAP_DAC_OVERRIDE, then that's essentially just saying that anyone can
>> > get writable bpf_link and do anything with it.
>> I poked around a bit, and looking at the sandboxing configurations
>> shipped with various daemons in their systemd unit files, it appears
>> that the main case where daemons are granted CAP_DAC_OVERRIDE is if they
>> have to be able to read /etc/shadow (which is installed as chmod 0). If
>> this is really the case, that would indicate it's not a widely needed
>> capability; but I wouldn't exactly say that I've done a comprehensive
>> survey, so probably a good idea for you to check your users as well :)
> Right, it might not be possible to drop it for all applications right
> away, but at least CAP_DAC_OVERRIDE is not CAP_SYS_ADMIN, which is
> absolutely necessary to work with BPF.

Yeah, I do hope that we'll eventually get CAP_BPF...


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