[RFC 0/3] Safe, dynamically (un)loadable LSMs

Casey Schaufler casey at schaufler-ca.com
Tue Dec 5 22:56:22 UTC 2017

On 12/5/2017 2:02 AM, Sargun Dhillon wrote:
> On Wed, Nov 29, 2017 at 6:28 PM, Casey Schaufler <casey at schaufler-ca.com> wrote:
>> On 11/26/2017 2:15 PM, Sargun Dhillon wrote:
>>> This patchset introduces safe dynamic LSM support. It does this via
>>> SRCU-protected security hooks. It also EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPLs the symbols
>>> required to perform runtime loading, and unloading. The patchset is
>>> meant to introduce as little overhead as possible when not used.
>>> Additionally, the functionality is disabled by default.
>> Can you explain the value in being able to unload a security module?
>> I can see having a throttle on an active module, but what do you gain
>> by being able to unload it? Can it possibly be worth the inevitable
>> memory leaks and almost certain dangling pointers? The restrictions on
>> a security module that can work safely in this environment are significant.
>> I don't see any point in unloading a module that could work with those
>> restrictions. The overhead of making it unloadable is likely to exceed
>> the overhead of running it.
> There are three things here:
> 1) I wanted to replicate what in-kernel security hooks could do.
> security_delete_hooks exists today, and although I'm not sure how it
> can safely be used, even though it called as list_del_rcu, I'm not
> sure if there is any way to ensure safety around ensuring there are no
> more remaining references. I didn't dig into this too deeply.

security_delete_hooks is only used by SELinux, and there is serious
talk of removing that use. If that comes about, and there are no users
of security_delete_hooks, we'll remove the interface.

> 2) In the future, I want to extend this patch and add the idea of
> "immutable hooks" i.e. hooks which can only be loaded, but not
> unloaded. If we combine this with the sealable memory allocator, it
> provides some interesting security guarantees, especially if we
> incorporate some of the other patches around the sealable memory
> allocator.

Currently the only hooks that can be removed are those for SELinux,
and as noted above, that facility may go away.

> 3) My personal reason for wanting this is actually tied to my use
> case. I have certain policies which are far easier to express by
> writing some C-code (a module), as opposed to writing a generic
> loader. Often times these modules are a few lines of code, and the
> rulesets are changed on the fly. Although this could be implemented be
> adding lots of hooks, the overhead starts to become unreasonable,
> especially when newer hooks obsolete older hooks. -- Think nftables or
> systemtap -- sometimes, the environment changes, and you need to
> reconfigure your system.

I'm not sure why you think there would be excessive overhead.
I understand why you might want them to be dynamically loadable,
but don't understand why you would want to unload them.

If you want an example of a security module that can change its
ruleset on the fly look at Smack. You can change the rules at any
time. No way, however, would I suggest trying to make it unloadable.

> I started going down the route of benchmarking these things, but
> unfortunately, with the machines I have access to, I can't see the
> performance counters, so I'm unable to see differences in performance
> other than wall-clock time. I can dig in a little bit more, but we can
> always gate module unloading behind a config flag if you think that's
> best. If it's disabled, there's no reason to do this whole SRCU thing
> at all.

I still don't see an argument for unloading a module.

>>> The SRCU was made safe to call from an interrupt context in the patch
>>> "srcu: Allow use of Classic SRCU from both process and interrupt context"
>>> (1123a6041654e8f889014659593bad4168e542c2) by Paolo Bonzini. Therefore
>>> this mechanism is safe to use for traversal of the callback list,
>>> even when a hook is called from the interrupt context.
>>> Currently, this maintains an entirely seperate mechanism to attach hooks
>>> because the hooks are behind managed static_keys to prevent overhead.
>>> This is also done so sealable memory support could be added at a later
>>> point. The callbacks currently include a percpu_counter, but that could
>>> sit outside of the struct itself. This may also have a benefit that these
>>> counters, could have __cacheline_aligned_in_smp. Although, in my testing
>>> I was unable to find much performance delta with percpu_counters that
>>> were not aligned.
>>> It includes an example LSM that prevents specific time travel.
>> Time based controls (e.g. you can't execute files in /usr/games between
>> 8:00 and 17:00) would be cool. I suggested them in the 1980's, but
>> no one has gotten around to implementing them. :)
>>> Sargun Dhillon (3):
>>>   security: Add safe, dynamic (runtime-loadable) hook support
>>>   LSM: Add statistics about the invocation of dynamic hooks
>>>   LSM: Add an example sample dynamic LSM
>>>  include/linux/lsm_hooks.h | 254 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
>>>  samples/Kconfig           |   6 +
>>>  samples/Makefile          |   2 +-
>>>  samples/lsm/Makefile      |   4 +
>>>  samples/lsm/lsm_example.c |  46 +++++++
>>>  security/Kconfig          |  16 +++
>>>  security/Makefile         |   2 +
>>>  security/dynamic.c        | 316 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
>>>  security/dynamic.h        |  33 +++++
>>>  security/dynamicfs.c      | 118 +++++++++++++++++
>>>  security/inode.c          |   2 +
>>>  security/security.c       |  66 +++++++++-
>>>  12 files changed, 863 insertions(+), 2 deletions(-)
>>>  create mode 100644 samples/lsm/Makefile
>>>  create mode 100644 samples/lsm/lsm_example.c
>>>  create mode 100644 security/dynamic.c
>>>  create mode 100644 security/dynamic.h
>>>  create mode 100644 security/dynamicfs.c
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