[PATCH v4 0/5] kexec_file: Add buffer hand-over for the next kernel

Eric W. Biederman ebiederm at xmission.com
Thu Sep 8 21:07:17 PDT 2016

Thiago Jung Bauermann <bauerman at linux.vnet.ibm.com> writes:

> Am Mittwoch, 07 September 2016, 09:19:40 schrieb Eric W. Biederman:
>> ebiederm at xmission.com (Eric W. Biederman) writes:
>> > Thiago Jung Bauermann <bauerman at linux.vnet.ibm.com> writes:
>> >> Hello,
>> >> 
>> >> The purpose of this new version of the series is to fix a small issue
>> >> that I found, which is that the kernel doesn't remove the memory
>> >> reservation for the hand-over buffer it received from the previous
>> >> kernel in the device tree it sets up for the next kernel. The result
>> >> is that for each successive kexec, a stale hand-over buffer is left
>> >> behind, wasting memory.
>> >> 
>> >> This is fixed by changes to kexec_free_handover_buffer and
>> >> setup_handover_buffer in patch 2. The other change is to fix checkpatch
>> >> warnings in the last patch.
>> > 
>> > This is fundamentally broken.  You do not increase the integrity of a
>> > system by dropping integrity checks.
>> > 
>> > No. No. No. No.
>> > 
>> > Nacked-by: "Eric W. Biederman" <ebiederm at xmission.com>
> The IMA measurement list can be verified without the need of a checksum over 
> its contents by replaying the PCR extend operations and checking that the 
> result matches the registers in the TPM device. So the fact that it is not 
> part of the kexec segments checksum verification doesn't actually reduce the 
> integrity of the system.

Bit flips and errant DMA transfers are the concern here.  That happens
routinely and can easily result in a corrupt data structure which may be
non-trivial to verify.

> Currently, IMA doesn't perform that verification when it restores the 
> measurement list from the kexec handover buffer, so if you believe it's 
> necessary to do that check at boot time, we could do one of the following:
> 1. Have IMA replay the PCR extend operations when it restores the 
> measurement list from the handover buffer and validate it against the TPM 
> PCRs, or
> 2. Have a buffer hash in the ima_kexec_hdr that IMA includes in the handover 
> buffer, and verify the buffer checksum before restoring the measurement 
> list.
> What do you think?

I think you are playing very much with fire and I am extremely
uncomfortable with the entire concept.  I think you are making things
more complicated in a way that will allow system to try and start
booting when their memory is correct.  Which may wind up corrupting
someones non-volatile storage.

It makes me doubly nervous that this adds a general purpose facility
that is generally not at all reusable.

I have seen malicious actors cause entirely too much damage to be at all
comfortable using a data structure before we validate that it was valid
before we started booting.  This isn't the same case but it is close
enough I don't trust someone just splatting data structures.
We can't guarantee integrity but we should not bypass best practices

>> To be constructive the way we have handled similiar situations in the
>> past (hotplu memory) is to call kexec_load again.
> Thanks for your suggestion. Unfortunately it's always possible for new 
> measurements to be added to the measurement list between the kexec_file_load 
> and the reboot. We see that happen in practice with system scripts and 
> configuration files that are only read or executed during the reboot 
> process. They are only measured by IMA as a result of the kexec execute.

If I understand what you are saying correctly I expect things could be
setup so that those measurements are forced to happen before kexec load.

Especially in a boot loader context which you described earlier I
believe you should have quite a lot of control of the system.  Having a
facility that fundamentally undermines the design of kexec for a case
where someone might do something you have not predicted does not make me

Which is to say I don't see why you can't measure things before the
kexec_load system call in a tightly controlled setup like a boot loader.
Which should make it that in practice no measurements change.  I believe
that should increase the reliability of the system overall.

Having code in the kernel that updates a buffer that kexec will use
after that buffer is loaded in memory honestely gives me the heebie


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