Follow @Openwall on Twitter for new release announcements and other news
[<prev] [next>] [<thread-prev] [thread-next>] [day] [month] [year] [list]
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2016 12:31:32 -0800
From: Kees Cook <>
To: Peter Zijlstra <>
Cc: Will Deacon <>, Greg KH <>, 
	David Windsor <>, 
	"" <>, 
	Elena Reshetova <>, Arnd Bergmann <>, 
	Thomas Gleixner <>, Ingo Molnar <>, 
	"H. Peter Anvin" <>
Subject: Re: Re: [RFC v4 PATCH 00/13] HARDENED_ATOMIC

On Fri, Nov 11, 2016 at 12:17 PM, Peter Zijlstra <> wrote:
> On Fri, Nov 11, 2016 at 10:04:42AM -0800, Kees Cook wrote:
>> I'm totally open about how to get there, but things can't just be opt-in.
> There really is no alternative.

I realize you feel that way, but if we can find a way to squeeze
mistakes down to impossible or very small, that has a strong effect on
the future of avoiding exploitation of these kinds of things.

> refcount_t; should only have: inc, inc_not_zero, dec_and_test

Sounds good. Two questions remain:

- how to deal with existing refcounting atomic_t users that want _add and _sub?
- keeping this fast enough that it can be used even in very sensitive
places (net, fs, etc).

> stats_t; should only have: add,sub

Seems right, though why not inc/dec? And shouldn't it have a _read of some kind?

Keeping the implementation details of refcount_t and stats_t opaque to
the users should discourage misuse...

> atomic_t; has:
>         {add,inc,sub,dec} + {and,or,xor,notand}
>         {add,inc,sub,dec}_return * {,relaxed,release,acquire}
>         (fetch_{add,inc,sub,dec} + {and,or,xor,notand}) * {,relaxed,release,acquire}
>         {sub,add,inc,dec}_and_test
>         {cmpxchg,xchg}
>         add_unless,inc_not_zero,{inc,dec}_unless_negative,dec_if_positive
> That is so much more than either refcount_t or stats_t should have, and
> the whole wrap/nowrap thing only matters to part of the ops.
> Like said, atomic_cmpxchg_wrap() is utter crap, that's a function name
> that doesn't make sense, and you guys should have realized that the
> moment you typed it.
> Its fantasy to think you can 'implement' atomic_t with refcount_t or
> anything else. You're chasing unicorns.

So, here's another suggestion on how to avoid this being opt-in: we
change atomic_t's name along with adding refcount_t and stats_t. We
need some way to distinguish "true" atomic users from the refcount_t
and stats_t, without needing to hope we can educate future driver
writers. Then, after transition to refcount_t, stats_t, and
bikeshed_atomic_t, we can catch misuse by having a CONFIG that forces
new/remaining atomic_t into refcount_t (which will blow up the build
if a driver uses anything besides inc, inc_not_zero, dec_and_test,

Regardless, adding refcount_t and stats_t will already make the audit
work of finding misused atomic_t SO much better, so since this is a
precondition to any other crazier ideas, it looks like we can all
agree on doing those pieces first.


Kees Cook
Nexus Security

Powered by blists - more mailing lists

Confused about mailing lists and their use? Read about mailing lists on Wikipedia and check out these guidelines on proper formatting of your messages.