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Date: Wed, 1 Mar 2017 11:24:37 +0000
From: Mark Rutland <>
To: Kees Cook <>
Cc: Andy Lutomirski <>,
	"" <>,
	Andy Lutomirski <>, Hoeun Ryu <>,
	PaX Team <>, Emese Revfy <>,
	Russell King <>, X86 ML <>
Subject: Re: [RFC][PATCH 4/8] x86: Implement __arch_rare_write_map/unmap()

On Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 03:52:26PM -0800, Kees Cook wrote:
> On Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 2:54 PM, Andy Lutomirski <> wrote:
> > On Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 1:35 PM, Kees Cook <> wrote:
> >>> Can't we at least make this:
> >>>
> >>> struct rare_write_mapping {
> >>>   void *addr;
> >>>   struct arch_rare_write_state arch_state;
> >>> };
> >>>
> >>> static inline struct rare_write_mapping __arch_rare_write_map(void
> >>> *addr, size_t len);
> >>> static inline void __arch_rare_write_unmap(struct rare_write_mapping mapping);
> >>
> >> How do you envision this working with the more complex things I
> >> included in the latter patches of the series, namely doing linked list
> >> updates across multiple structure instances, etc?
> >>
> >> ie, poor list manipulation pseudo-code:
> >>
> >> turn off read-only;
> >> struct_one->next = struct_tree->node;
> >> struct_three->prev = struct_one->node;
> >> struct_two->prev = struct_two->next = NULL;
> >> turn on read-only;
> >>
> >> That's three separate memory areas involved...
> >
> > Fair enough.  That being said, how is this supposed to work on
> > architectures that don't have a global "disable write protection" bit?
> > Surely these architectures exist.
> I don't know. :) That's part of the reason for putting up this series:
> looking to see what's possible on other architectures. It's not clear
> to me what arm64 can do, for example.

There is no global override of this sort on arm64. Just having map/unap,
open/close, shed/unshed, etc, won't work.

The options I can think of for arm64 are:

* Have a separate RW alias of just the write_rarely data, that we
  temporarily map-in on a given CPU (using TTBR0) to perform the write.
  The RW alias is at a different VA to the usual RO alias, so we have to
  convert each pointer to its RW alias to perform the write. That's why
  we need __rare_write_ptr() to hide this, and can't have uninstrumented
  Since this would *only* map the write_rarely data, it's simple to set
  up, and we don't need to modify the tables at runtime.
  I also think we can implement this generically using switch_mm() and
  {get,put}_user(), or specialised variants thereof.

  Assuming we can figure out how to handle those complex cases, this is
  my preferred solution. :)
* Have a copy of the entire swapper page tables, which differs only in
  the write_rarely data being RW. We then switch TTBR1 over to this for
  the duration of the rare_write_map() .. write_write_unmap() sequence.

  While this sounds conceptually simple, it's far more complex in
  practice. Keeping the not-quite-clone of the swapper in-sync is going
  to be very painful and ripe for error.

  Additionally, the TTBR1 switch will be very expensive, far more so
  than the TTBR0 switch due to TLB maintenance and other work (including
  switching TTBR0 twice per TTBR1 switch, itself requiring synchronised
  TLB maintenance and other work).

  I am not fond of this approach.

* Give up on this being per-cpu. Either change the permissions in place,
  or fixmap an RW alias as required. In either case, all CPUs will have
  RW access.


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