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Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2018 23:06:16 +0900
From: Masami Hiramatsu <>
To: Rick Edgecombe <>
Subject: Re: [PATCH 0/2] Don’t leave executable
 TLB entries to freed pages

On Tue, 27 Nov 2018 16:07:52 -0800
Rick Edgecombe <> wrote:

> Sometimes when memory is freed via the module subsystem, an executable
> permissioned TLB entry can remain to a freed page. If the page is re-used to
> back an address that will receive data from userspace, it can result in user
> data being mapped as executable in the kernel. The root of this behavior is
> vfree lazily flushing the TLB, but not lazily freeing the underlying pages. 

Good catch!

> There are sort of three categories of this which show up across modules, bpf,
> kprobes and ftrace:

For x86-64 kprobe, it sets the page NX and after that RW, and then release
via module_memfree. So I'm not sure it really happens on kprobes. (Of course
the default memory allocator is simpler so it may happen on other archs) But
interesting fixes.

Thank you,

> 1. When executable memory is touched and then immediatly freed
>    This shows up in a couple error conditions in the module loader and BPF JIT
>    compiler.
> 2. When executable memory is set to RW right before being freed
>    In this case (on x86 and probably others) there will be a TLB flush when its
>    set to RW and so since the pages are not touched between setting the
>    flush and the free, it should not be in the TLB in most cases. So this
>    category is not as big of a concern. However, techinically there is still a
>    race where an attacker could try to keep it alive for a short window with a
>    well timed out-of-bound read or speculative read, so ideally this could be
>    blocked as well.
> 3. When executable memory is freed in an interrupt
>    At least one example of this is the freeing of init sections in the module
>    loader. Since vmalloc reuses the allocation for the work queue linked list
>    node for the deferred frees, the memory actually gets touched as part of the
>    vfree operation and so returns to the TLB even after the flush from resetting
>    the permissions.
> I have only actually tested category 1, and identified 2 and 3 just from reading
> the code.
> To catch all of these, module_alloc for x86 is changed to use a new flag that
> instructs the unmap operation to flush the TLB before freeing the pages.
> If this solution seems good I can plug the flag in for other architectures that
> Rick Edgecombe (2):
>   vmalloc: New flag for flush before releasing pages
>   x86/modules: Make x86 allocs to flush when free
>  arch/x86/kernel/module.c |  4 ++--
>  include/linux/vmalloc.h  |  1 +
>  mm/vmalloc.c             | 13 +++++++++++--
>  3 files changed, 14 insertions(+), 4 deletions(-)
> -- 
> 2.17.1

Masami Hiramatsu <>

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