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Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2017 09:40:14 +0200
From: Juerg Haefliger <>
To: Yisheng Xie <>, Tycho Andersen <>
 Marco Benatto <>
Subject: Re: [PATCH v6 00/11] Add support for eXclusive Page Frame Ownership

On 09/12/2017 09:07 AM, Yisheng Xie wrote:
> Hi Tycho,
> On 2017/9/11 23:02, Tycho Andersen wrote:
>> Hi Yisheng,
>> On Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 06:34:45PM +0800, Yisheng Xie wrote:
>>> Hi Tycho ,
>>> On 2017/9/8 1:35, Tycho Andersen wrote:
>>>> Hi all,
>>>> Here is v6 of the XPFO set; see v5 discussion here:
>>>> Changelogs are in the individual patch notes, but the highlights are:
>>>> * add primitives for ensuring memory areas are mapped (although these are quite
>>>>   ugly, using stack allocation; I'm open to better suggestions)
>>>> * instead of not flushing caches, re-map pages using the above
>>>> * TLB flushing is much more correct (i.e. we're always flushing everything
>>>>   everywhere). I suspect we may be able to back this off in some cases, but I'm
>>>>   still trying to collect performance numbers to prove this is worth doing.
>>>> I have no TODOs left for this set myself, other than fixing whatever review
>>>> feedback people have. Thoughts and testing welcome!
>>> According to the paper of Vasileios P. Kemerlis et al, the mainline kernel
>>> will not set the Pro. of physmap(direct map area) to RW(X), so do we really
>>> need XPFO to protect from ret2dir attack?
>> I guess you're talking about section 4.3? 
> Yes
>> They mention that that x86
>> only gets rw, but that aarch64 is rwx still.
> IIRC, the in kernel of v4.13 the aarch64 is not rwx, I will check it.
>> But in either case this still provides access protection, similar to
>> SMAP. Also, if I understand things correctly the protections are
>> unmanaged, so a page that had the +x bit set at some point, it could
>> be used for ret2dir.
> So you means that the Pro. of direct map area maybe changed to +x, then ret2dir attack can use it?

XPFO protects against malicious reads from userspace (potentially
accessing sensitive data). I've also been told by a security expert that
ROP attacks are still possible even if user space memory is
non-executable. XPFO is supposed to prevent that but I haven't been able
to confirm this. It's way out of my comfort zone.


> Thanks
> Yisheng Xie

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