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Date: Sat, 9 Feb 2019 11:13:52 +0000
From: "Reshetova, Elena" <>
To: Peter Zijlstra <>
CC: ""
	<>, "" <>,
	"" <>, ""
	<>, "" <>, ""
	<>, "" <>
Subject: RE: [RFC PATCH] x86/entry/64: randomize kernel stack offset upon
 system call

> On Fri, Feb 08, 2019 at 01:20:09PM +0000, Reshetova, Elena wrote:
> > > On Fri, Feb 08, 2019 at 02:15:49PM +0200, Elena Reshetova wrote:
> > >
> > > Why can't we change the stack offset periodically from an interrupt or
> > > so, and then have every later entry use that.
> >
> > Hm... This sounds more complex conceptually - we cannot touch
> > stack when it is in use, so we have to periodically probe for a
> > good time (when process is in userspace I guess) to change it from an interrupt?
> > IMO trampoline stack provides such a good clean place for doing it and we
> > have stackleak there doing stack cleanup, so would make sense to keep
> > these features operating together.
> The idea was to just change a per-cpu (possible per-task if you ctxsw
> it) offset that is used on entry to offset the stack.
> So only entries after the change will have the updated offset, any
> in-progress syscalls will continue with their current offset and will be
> unaffected.

Let me try to write this into simple steps to make sure I understand your

- create a new per-stack value (and potentially its per-cpu "shadow") called stack_offset = 0
- periodically issue an interrupt, and inside it walk the process tree and
  update stack_offset randomly for each process
- when a process makes a new syscall, it subtracts stack_offset value from top_of_stack()
 and that becomes its new  top_of_stack() for that system call. 

Smth like this? 

I think it is close to what Andy has proposed
in his reply, but the main difference is that you propose to do this via an interrupt. 
And the main reasoning for doing this via interrupt would be not to affect
syscall performance, right? 

The problem I see with interrupt approach is how often that should be done?
Because we don't want to end up with situation when we issue it too often, since
it is not going to be very light-weight operation (update all processes), and we 
don't want it to be too rarely done that we end up with processes that execute many
syscalls with the same offset. So, we might have a situation when some processes
 will execute a number of syscalls with same offset and some will change their offset
more than once without even making a single syscall. 

Also I fear that attacker might have more playroom here, since we don't have any
fixed guarantees on randomization anymore, but it depends on interrupt scheduling,
syscall rate for a given process, etc. I don't know how real are these concerns in
practice, but feels much more things to worry about. 

Best Regards,


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