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Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2017 21:24:42 -0700
From: Eric Biggers <>
To: Kees Cook <>
Cc:, David Windsor <>,,
Subject: Re: [PATCH 22/23] usercopy: split user-controlled
 slabs to separate caches

On Mon, Jun 19, 2017 at 04:36:36PM -0700, Kees Cook wrote:
> From: David Windsor <>
> Some userspace APIs (e.g. ipc, seq_file) provide precise control over
> the size of kernel kmallocs, which provides a trivial way to perform
> heap overflow attacks where the attacker must control neighboring
> allocations of a specific size. Instead, move these APIs into their own
> cache so they cannot interfere with standard kmallocs. This is enabled

This is a logically separate change which IMO should be its own patch, not just
patch 22/23.

Also, is this really just about heap overflows?  I thought the main purpose of
separate heaps is to make it more difficult to exploit use-after-frees, since
anything allocating an object from heap A cannot overwrite freed memory in heap
B.  (At least, not at the SLAB level; it may still be done at the page level.)

> diff --git a/include/linux/gfp.h b/include/linux/gfp.h
> index a89d37e8b387..ff4f4a698ad0 100644
> --- a/include/linux/gfp.h
> +++ b/include/linux/gfp.h
> @@ -45,6 +45,7 @@ struct vm_area_struct;
>  #else
>  #define ___GFP_NOLOCKDEP	0
>  #endif
> +#define ___GFP_USERCOPY		0x4000000u
>  /* If the above are modified, __GFP_BITS_SHIFT may need updating */
>  /*
> @@ -83,12 +84,17 @@ struct vm_area_struct;
>   *   node with no fallbacks or placement policy enforcements.
>   *
>   * __GFP_ACCOUNT causes the allocation to be accounted to kmemcg.
> + *
> + * __GFP_USERCOPY indicates that the page will be explicitly copied to/from
> + *   userspace, and may be allocated from a separate kmalloc pool.
> + *
>   */

The "page", or the allocation?  It's only for slab objects, is it not?  More
importantly, the purpose of this needs to be clearly documented; otherwise
people won't know what this is and whether they should/need to use it or not.

- Eric

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