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Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2019 12:01:03 +0200
From: Florian Weimer <>
To: Steve Grubb <>
Cc: Jan Kara <>,  Mickaël Salaün
 <>,,  Al Viro
 <>,  James Morris <>,  Jonathan
 Corbet <>,  Kees Cook <>,  Matthew
 Garrett <>,  Michael Kerrisk <>,
  Mickaël Salaün <>,  Mimi
 Zohar <>,  Philippe Trébuchet
 <>,  Shuah Khan <>,  Thibaut
 Sautereau <>,  Vincent Strubel
 <>,  Yves-Alexis Perez
 <>,,,,,  Matthew Bobrowski
Subject: Re: [RFC PATCH v1 1/5] fs: Add support for an O_MAYEXEC flag on sys_open()

* Steve Grubb:

> On Tuesday, April 16, 2019 7:49:39 AM EDT Florian Weimer wrote:
>> * Steve Grubb:
>> > This flag that is being proposed means that you would have to patch all
>> > interpreters to use it. If you are sure that upstreams will accept that,
>> > why not just change the policy to interpreters shouldn't execute
>> > anything unless the execute bit is set? That is simpler and doesn't need
>> > a kernel change. And setting the execute bit is an auditable event.
>> I think we need something like O_MAYEXEC so that security policies can
>> be enforced and noexec mounts can be detected.
> Application whitelisting can already today stop unknown software without 
> needing O_MAYEXEC.

I'm somewhat interested in using this to add a proper check for
executability to explicit dynamic loader invocations.  In other words,

  /lib64/ /path/to/noexec/fs/program

should refuse to run the program if the program is located on a file
system mounted with the noexec attribute.

> The problem is that passing O_MAYEXEC is opt-in. You can use ptrace/seccomp/
> bpf/LD_PRELOAD/LD_AUDIT to remove that bit from an otherwise normal program. 
> This does not require privs to do so.

That doesn't really help with the above.

> But let's consider that this comes to pass and every interpreter is
> updated and IMA can see the O_MAYEXEC flag. Attackers now simply pivot
> to running programs via stdin. It never touches disk and therefore
> nothing enforces security policy. This already is among the most
> common ways that malware runs today to evade detection.

Are you referring to Windows malware using Powershell?

I'm not sure this is applicable to Linux.  We do not have much
behavioral monitoring anyway.


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