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Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2017 11:58:42 -0700
From: Kees Cook <>
To: Alan Cox <>
Cc: Matt Brown <>, Casey Schaufler <>, 
	Boris Lukashev <>, Greg KH <>, 
	"Serge E. Hallyn" <>, 
	"" <>, 
	linux-security-module <>, 
	linux-kernel <>
Subject: Re: Re: [PATCH v7 2/2] security: tty: make TIOCSTI
 ioctl require CAP_SYS_ADMIN

On Thu, Jun 1, 2017 at 6:08 AM, Alan Cox <> wrote:
>> I still cannot wrap my head around why providing users with a
>> protection is a bad thing. Yes, the other tty games are bad, but this
>> fixes a specific and especially bad case that is easy to kill. It's
>> got a Kconfig and a sysctl. It's not on by default. This protects the
>> common case of privileged ttys that aren't attached to consoles, etc,
> Which just leads to stuff not getting fixed. Like all the code out there
> today which is still vulnerable to selection based attacks because people
> didn't do the job right when "fixing" stuff because they are not
> thinking about security at a systems level but just tickboxing CVEs.

There's a difference between "bugs" and "security bugs". Letting
security bugs continue to get exploited because we want to flush out
bugs seems insensitive to the people getting attacked. I'd rather
protect against a class of bug than have to endless fix each bug.

> I'm not against doing something to protect the container folks, but that
> something as with Android is a whitelist of ioctls. And if we need to do
> this with a kernel hook lets do it properly.
> Remember the namespace of the tty on creation
> If the magic security flag is set then
>         Apply a whitelist to *any* tty ioctl call where the ns doesn't
>                 match
> and we might as well just take the Android whitelist since they've kindly
> built it for us all!
> In the tty layer it ends up being something around 10 lines of code and
> some other file somewhere in security/ that's just a switch or similar
> with the whitelisted ioctl codes in it.
> That (or a similar SELinux ruleset) would actually fix the problem.
> SELinux would be better because it can also apply the rules when doing
> things like su/sudo/...

Just to play devil's advocate, wouldn't such a system continue to not
address your physical-console concerns? I wouldn't want to limit the
protection to only containers (but it's a good start), since it
wouldn't protect people not using containers that still have a
privileged TTY attached badly somewhere.

If you're talking about wholistic SELinux policy, sure, I could
imagine a wholistic fix. But for the tons of people without a
comprehensive SELinux policy, the proposed protection continues to
make sense.


Kees Cook
Pixel Security

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