Kdump with signed images

Eric W. Biederman ebiederm at xmission.com
Tue Oct 23 12:19:27 EDT 2012

Vivek Goyal <vgoyal at redhat.com> writes:

> On Tue, Oct 23, 2012 at 09:18:54AM -0400, Vivek Goyal wrote:
> [..]
>> > >> There are 3 options for trusting /sbin/kexec.  There are IMA and EMA,
>> > >> and it is conceivable to have ELF note sections with signatures for
>> > >> executables.
>> > >
>> > > Can you please tell more about what is EMA and IMA. I did quick google
>> > > and could not find much.
>> > 
>> > That should have been EVM and IMA.  Look under security/integrity/.  I
>> > don't know much about them but they appear to be security modules with a
>> > focus on verifying checksum or perhaps encrypted hashes of executables
>> > are consistent.
>> I will do some quick search there and I see if I can understand something.
> Ok, I quickly went through following paper.
> http://mirror.transact.net.au/sourceforge/l/project/li/linux-ima/linux-ima/Integrity_overview.pdf
> So it looks like that IMA can store the hashes of files and at execute
> time ensure those hashes are unchanged to protect against the possibility
> of modification of files.
> But what about creation of a new program which can call kexec_load()
> and execute an unsigned kernel. Doesn't look like that will be
> prevented using IMA.
> Whole idea behind UEFI secure boot seems to be that all signing happens
> outside the running system and now only signed code can run with higher
> priviliges.

No.  UEFI secure boot has absolutely nothing todo with this.

UEFI secure boot is about not being able to hijack the code EFI runs
directly.  Full stop.

Some people would like to implment a security policy that says
you can't boot an untrusted version of windows from linux if you have
booted with UEFI secure boot, so they don't get their bootloader
signatures revoked by microsoft.

A security model relying on Microsoft's key is totally uniteresting to
me.  Either signing at the UEFI level is of no use or Microsofts key
will fall again to the combined assult of every cracker and every
governmental dirty cyber ops division attacking it.  Not to mention that
Microsoft has little incentive to keep linux booting.

I think it is reasonable to be able to support a policy where we can't
boot unsigned versions of Microsoft windows.  However beyond being able
to exclude booting windows being one criteria for our policy mechanism
please don't even start to justify things with that ridiculous security
policy even indirectly.

> IMA seems to be only protecting against only making sure
> existing binaries are not modifed but it does not seem to prevent against
> installation of new binaries and these binaries take advantage of kexec
> system call to load an unsigned kernel. 

I believe you can combine IMA with EVM signed security attributes where
the EVM signing key is offline, and the verification key is in the

The combination of IMA and EVM gets very close to being able to sign
executables offline and be able to update them.


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