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Date: Wed, 1 Mar 2017 11:16:12 -0800
From: Kees Cook <>
To: Daniel Micay <>
Cc: Kaiwan N Billimoria <>, 
	"" <>
Subject: Re: [RFC] mm: enable sanitizing via CONFIG

On Sat, Feb 25, 2017 at 12:36 AM, Daniel Micay <> wrote:
> On Fri, 2017-02-24 at 16:32 -0800, Kees Cook wrote:
>> This enables page and slab poisoning by default under
>> Based on work by Kaiwan N Billimoria.
>> Signed-off-by: Kees Cook <>
>> ---
>> This is more what I had in mind. This is based on the latest patch,
>> but
>> handles slab and slub. I tested slub with lkdtm's READ_AFTER_FREE and
>> READ_BUDDY_AFTER_FREE which both trip the poisoning tests.
>> While doing this, I noticed one major issue with slub/slab poisoning:
>> it performs poisoning both on alloc and free, which is a rather large
>> performance hit, so the next step is likely to find a way to split the
>> poisoning into alloc and free halves so that CONFIG_MEMORY_SANITIZE
>> poisoning will only happen on the free.
> It also still fills with a value that will make pointers point to
> userspace, right? Rather than a better value or zeroing (and relying on
> mmap_min_addr, although that's pretty small and easy to index past).

Correct. We have to get there in pieces, though I continue to think it
would still be easier to make the sanitization feature separate from

In PaX, the poison value on x86_64 is 0xfe (to make addresses aim into
the noncanonical range), otherwise 0xff (to point at the top of

> It also verifies the poisoning is still there, which can be wanted but
> is more expensive. It increases allocations by the size of a pointer
> which PaX doesn't do anymore, and there's the whole losing the fast path
> which seems to mean losing CPU caching too since it's just hitting the
> global stuff. The debug infrastructure could also be a risk, that would
> not be present in normal builds up to this point.

Gathering the reasons against this being part of the debug path would
be a nice thing to collect; it might be convincing to the allocator

> I would like to be able to use upstream features but I think case it
> seems that anyone not willing to unnecessarily lose performance and
> security properties will need to keep carrying ~15 line of code out of
> tree or using the PaX features.

The simple form (without the SLAB_NO_SANITIZE) is alarmingly small. :)

> Is there a path to doing it properly from here? I really don't see the
> point in it being upstreaming if it's such a hack. It's frustrating...
> Not to mention that real allocator hardening like not having inline free
> lists and being able to reliably detect double-free would be nice. Maybe
> there should just be a security-oriented slab allocator, freeing it from
> needing to avoid stepping on other people's toes. It just needs to pick
> a performance target and then the design can shift away from the current
> one within that target over time. *shrug*

I'd love to see someone step up and create this for upstream. I think
it'd make a lot of sense instead of trying to shoe-horn things into


Kees Cook
Pixel Security

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