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Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2016 12:02:33 +1100
From: NeilBrown <>
To: Greg KH <>,
Subject: Re: [RFC 0/4] make call_usermodehelper a bit more "safe"

On Thu, Dec 15 2016, Greg KH wrote:

> Hi all,
> Here's a proof-of-concept patch series that tries to work to address the
> issue of call_usermodehelper being abused to have the kernel call any
> userspace binary with full root permissions.
> The issue is that if you end up getting write access to kernel memory,
> if you change the string '/sbin/hotplug' to point to
> '/home/hacked/my_binary', then the next uevent that the system makes
> will call this binary instead of the "trusted" one.

You seem to be targeting a situation where the kernel memory can be
easily changed, but filesystem content cannot (if it could - the
attacker would simply replace /sbin/hotplug).

If that is a credible threat scenario, it seems to me that the simplest
mitigation is to have call_usermodehelper always call a single
compiled-in path - e.g. /sbin/usermode-helper - and rely on that
program to validate argv[0] and call it if it is deemed safe.

i.e. get the policy out of the kernel.

Just a thought,

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