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Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2017 14:20:45 -0700
From: Kees Cook <>
To: Thomas Gleixner <>
Cc: Andy Lutomirski <>, Mathias Krause <>, 
	"" <>, Mark Rutland <>, 
	Hoeun Ryu <>, PaX Team <>, 
	Emese Revfy <>, Russell King <>, X86 ML <>, 
	"" <>, 
	"" <>, 
	Peter Zijlstra <>
Subject: Re: Re: [RFC v2][PATCH 04/11] x86: Implement __arch_rare_write_begin/unmap()

On Fri, Apr 7, 2017 at 1:44 PM, Thomas Gleixner <> wrote:
> On Fri, 7 Apr 2017, Andy Lutomirski wrote:
>> On Fri, Apr 7, 2017 at 6:30 AM, Mathias Krause <> wrote:
>> > On 7 April 2017 at 15:14, Thomas Gleixner <> wrote:
>> >> I really do not care whether PaX wants to chase and verify that over and
>> >> over. I certainly don't want to take the chance to leak CR0.WP ever and I
>> >> very much care about extra stuff to check in the entry/exit path.
>> >
>> > Fair enough. However, placing a BUG_ON(!(read_cr0() & X86_CR0_WP))
>> > somewhere sensible should make those "leaks" visible fast -- and their
>> > exploitation impossible, i.e. fail hard.
>> The leaks surely exist and now we'll just add an exploitable BUG.
> :)
>> I think we're approaching this all wrong, actually.  The fact that x86
>> has this CR0.WP thing is arguably a historical accident, and the fact
>> that PaX uses it doesn't mean that PaX is doing it the best way for
>> upstream Linux.
> As I said before. It should be fused to 1.
>> Why don't we start at the other end and do a generic non-arch-specific
>> implementation: set up an mm_struct that contains an RW alias of the
>> relevant parts of rodata and use use_mm to access it.  (That is,
>> get_fs() to back up the old fs, set_fs(USER_DS),
>> use_mm(&rare_write_mm), do the write using copy_to_user, undo
>> everything.)
> That works too, though I'm not sure that it's more efficient than
> temporarily creating and undoing a single cpu local alias mapping similar
> to the kmap_atomic mechanism in the highmem case.
> Aside of that the alias mapping requires a full PGDIR entry unless you want
> to get into the mess of keeping yet another identity mapping up to date.

I probably chose the wrong name for this feature (write rarely).
That's _usually_ true, but "sensitive_write()" was getting rather
long. The things that we need to protect with this are certainly stuff
that doesn't get much writing, but some things are just plain
sensitive (like page tables) and we should still try to be as fast as
possible with them.

I'll try to include a third example in the next posting of the series
that makes this more obvious.

I'm all for a general case for the infrastructure (as Andy and Mark
has mentioned), but I don't want to get into the situation where
people start refusing to use it because it's "too slow" (for example,
see refcount_t vs net-dev right now).


Kees Cook
Pixel Security

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