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Date: Tue, 15 Oct 2013 09:38:48 +1100
From: Ryan Mallon <>
To: Linus Torvalds <>, 
 Andrew Morton <>,, Jiri Kosina <>,, 
 Dan Rosenberg <>,
 Kees Cook <>, 
 Alexander Viro <>,
 "Eric W. Biederman" <>, 
 George Spelvin <>,
 Joe Perches <>
CC: "" <>,
 "" <>, 
 Rob Landley <>,
 Ingo Molnar <>,
Subject: [PATCH v4] vsprintf: Check real user/group id for %pK

Some setuid binaries will allow reading of files which have read
permission by the real user id. This is problematic with files which
use %pK because the file access permission is checked at open() time,
but the kptr_restrict setting is checked at read() time. If a setuid
binary opens a %pK file as an unprivileged user, and then elevates
permissions before reading the file, then kernel pointer values may be

This happens for example with the setuid pppd application on Ubuntu 12.04:

  $ head -1 /proc/kallsyms
  00000000 T startup_32

  $ pppd file /proc/kallsyms
  pppd: In file /proc/kallsyms: unrecognized option 'c1000000'

This will only leak the pointer value from the first line, but other
setuid binaries may leak more information.

Fix this by adding a check that in addition to the current process
having CAP_SYSLOG, that effective user and group ids are equal to the
real ids. If a setuid binary reads the contents of a file which uses
%pK then the pointer values will be printed as NULL if the real user
is unprivileged.

Update the sysctl documentation to reflect the changes, and also
correct the documentation to state the kptr_restrict=0 is the default.

This is a only temporary solution to the issue. The correct solution
is to do the permission check at open() time on files, and to replace
%pK with a function which checks the open() time permission. %pK uses
in printk should be removed since no sane permission check can be
done, and instead protected by using dmesg_restrict.

Signed-off-by: Ryan Mallon <>

This is a temporary solution only, but fixes a minor security hole when
kptr_restrict=1. I am working to fix this properly, but there is still
some discussion around how to achieve this, see here:

This solution at least resolves the problem, and can easily be cherry
picked into stable/distro kernels as needed.

Changes since v3:
  * Update the sysctl documentation to detail the reasons for the check
    and also explain the temporary nature of the solution.
  * Added Cc stable, since this patch should probably be applied to
    stable kernels, and possibly distro kernels.
  * Cc'ed people for Documentation changes

Changes since v2:
  * Fixed typo in comment: 'proccess' -> 'process'
  * Use a switch statement for the kptr_restrict values
  * Updated the sysctl documentation

Changes since v1:
  * Fix the description to say 'vsprintf' instead of 'printk'.
  * Clarify the open() vs read() time checks in the patch description
and code comment.
  * Remove comment about 'badly written' setuid binaries. This occurs
with setuids binaries which correctly handle opening files.
  * Added extra people to the Cc list.

diff --git a/Documentation/sysctl/kernel.txt b/Documentation/sysctl/kernel.txt
index 9d4c1d1..fb78e60 100644
--- a/Documentation/sysctl/kernel.txt
+++ b/Documentation/sysctl/kernel.txt
@@ -290,13 +290,24 @@ Default value is "/sbin/hotplug".
 This toggle indicates whether restrictions are placed on
-exposing kernel addresses via /proc and other interfaces.  When
-kptr_restrict is set to (0), there are no restrictions.  When
-kptr_restrict is set to (1), the default, kernel pointers
-printed using the %pK format specifier will be replaced with 0's
-unless the user has CAP_SYSLOG.  When kptr_restrict is set to
-(2), kernel pointers printed using %pK will be replaced with 0's
-regardless of privileges.
+exposing kernel addresses via /proc and other interfaces.
+When kptr_restrict is set to (0), the default, there are no restrictions.
+When kptr_restrict is set to (1), kernel pointers printed using the %pK
+format specifier will be replaced with 0's unless the user has CAP_SYSLOG
+and effective user and group ids are equal to the real ids. This is
+because %pK checks are done at read() time rather than open() time, so
+if permissions are elevated between the open() and the read() (e.g via
+a setuid binary) then %pK will not leak kernel pointers to unprivileged
+users. Note, this is a temporary solution only. The correct long-term
+solution is to do the permission checks at open() time. Consider removing
+world read permissions from files that use %pK, and using dmesg_restrict
+to protect against uses of %pK in dmesg(8) if leaking kernel pointer
+values to unprivileged users is a concern.
+When kptr_restrict is set to (2), kernel pointers printed using
+%pK will be replaced with 0's regardless of privileges.
diff --git a/lib/vsprintf.c b/lib/vsprintf.c
index 26559bd..d76555c 100644
--- a/lib/vsprintf.c
+++ b/lib/vsprintf.c
@@ -27,6 +27,7 @@
 #include <linux/uaccess.h>
 #include <linux/ioport.h>
 #include <linux/dcache.h>
+#include <linux/cred.h>
 #include <net/addrconf.h>
 #include <asm/page.h>		/* for PAGE_SIZE */
@@ -1312,11 +1313,37 @@ char *pointer(const char *fmt, char *buf, char *end, void *ptr,
 				spec.field_width = default_width;
 			return string(buf, end, "pK-error", spec);
-		if (!((kptr_restrict == 0) ||
-		      (kptr_restrict == 1 &&
-		       has_capability_noaudit(current, CAP_SYSLOG))))
+		switch (kptr_restrict) {
+		case 0:
+			/* Always print %pK values */
+			break;
+		case 1: {
+			/*
+			 * Only print the real pointer value if the current
+			 * process has CAP_SYSLOG and is running with the
+			 * same credentials it started with. This is because
+			 * access to files is checked at open() time, but %pK
+			 * checks permission at read() time. We don't want to
+			 * leak pointer values if a binary opens a file using
+			 * %pK and then elevates privileges before reading it.
+			 */
+			const struct cred *cred = current_cred();
+			if (!has_capability_noaudit(current, CAP_SYSLOG) ||
+			    !uid_eq(cred->euid, cred->uid) ||
+			    !gid_eq(cred->egid, cred->gid))
+				ptr = NULL;
+			break;
+		}
+		case 2:
+		default:
+			/* Always print 0's for %pK */
 			ptr = NULL;
+			break;
+		}
 	case 'N':
 		switch (fmt[1]) {
 		case 'F':

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