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Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2021 17:41:22 +0200
From: Mickaël Salaün <>
To: James Morris <>,
	Jann Horn <>,
	Kees Cook <>,
	"Serge E . Hallyn" <>
Cc: Mickaël Salaün <>,
	Al Viro <>,
	Andy Lutomirski <>,
	Anton Ivanov <>,
	Arnd Bergmann <>,
	Casey Schaufler <>,
	David Howells <>,
	Jeff Dike <>,
	Jonathan Corbet <>,
	Michael Kerrisk <>,
	Richard Weinberger <>,
	Shuah Khan <>,
	Vincent Dagonneau <>,,,,,,,,,,
	Mickaël Salaün <>
Subject: [PATCH v34 12/13] landlock: Add user and kernel documentation

From: Mickaël Salaün <>

Add a first document describing userspace API: how to define and enforce
a Landlock security policy.  This is explained with a simple example.
The Landlock system calls are described with their expected behavior and
current limitations.

Another document is dedicated to kernel developers, describing guiding
principles and some important kernel structures.

This documentation can be built with the Sphinx framework.

Cc: James Morris <>
Cc: Jann Horn <>
Cc: Serge E. Hallyn <>
Signed-off-by: Mickaël Salaün <>
Reviewed-by: Vincent Dagonneau <>
Reviewed-by: Kees Cook <>

Changes since v31:
* Use "filesystem topology".
* Add Reviewed-by Kees Cook.

Changes since v30:
* Fix typo (spotted by Kees Cook).
* Extend commit description (suggested by Kees Cook).
* Add note about what a Landlock user should do about OverlayFS
  (requested by Kees Cook).
* Include inode and superblock documentation.
* Improve explanations about special filesystem limitations, and
  highlight automatic /proc restrictions.
* Bump the last modification date.

Changes since v28:
* Reorder subsections by importance in the "Current limitations"

Changes since v27:
* Update landlock_restrict_self(2).
* Update date and copyright.

Changes since v25:
* Explain the behavior of layered access rights.
* Explain how bind mounts and overayfs mounts are handled by Landlock:
  merged overlayfs mount points have their own inodes, which makes these
  hierarchies independent from its upper and lower layers, unlike bind
  mounts which share the same inodes between the source hierarchy and
  the mount point hierarchy.
  New overlayfs mount and bind mount tests check these behaviors.
* Synchronize with the new syscalls.c file and update syscall names.
* Fix spelling.
* Remove Reviewed-by Jann Horn because of the above changes.

Changes since v24:
* Add Reviewed-by Jann Horn.
* Add a paragraph to explain how the ruleset layers work.
* Bump date.

Changes since v23:
* Explain limitations for the maximum number of stacked ruleset, and the
  memory usage restrictions.

Changes since v22:
* Fix spelling and remove obsolete sentence (spotted by Jann Horn).
* Bump date.

Changes since v21:
* Move the user space documentation to userspace-api/landlock.rst and
  the kernel documentation to security/landlock.rst .
* Add license headers.
* Add last update dates.
* Update MAINTAINERS file.
* Add (back) links to .
* Fix spelling.

Changes since v20:
* Update examples and documentation with the new syscalls.

Changes since v19:
* Update examples and documentation with the new syscalls.

Changes since v15:
* Add current limitations.

Changes since v14:
* Fix spelling (contributed by Randy Dunlap).
* Extend documentation about inheritance and explain layer levels.
* Remove the use of now-removed access rights.
* Use GitHub links.
* Improve kernel documentation.
* Add section for tests.
* Update example.

Changes since v13:
* Rewrote the documentation according to the major revamp.

Previous changes:
 Documentation/security/index.rst         |   1 +
 Documentation/security/landlock.rst      |  85 +++++++
 Documentation/userspace-api/index.rst    |   1 +
 Documentation/userspace-api/landlock.rst | 311 +++++++++++++++++++++++
 MAINTAINERS                              |   2 +
 5 files changed, 400 insertions(+)
 create mode 100644 Documentation/security/landlock.rst
 create mode 100644 Documentation/userspace-api/landlock.rst

diff --git a/Documentation/security/index.rst b/Documentation/security/index.rst
index 8129405eb2cc..16335de04e8c 100644
--- a/Documentation/security/index.rst
+++ b/Documentation/security/index.rst
@@ -16,3 +16,4 @@ Security Documentation
+   landlock
diff --git a/Documentation/security/landlock.rst b/Documentation/security/landlock.rst
new file mode 100644
index 000000000000..2e84925ae971
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/security/landlock.rst
@@ -0,0 +1,85 @@
+.. SPDX-License-Identifier: GPL-2.0
+.. Copyright © 2017-2020 Mickaël Salaün <>
+.. Copyright © 2019-2020 ANSSI
+Landlock LSM: kernel documentation
+:Author: Mickaël Salaün
+:Date: March 2021
+Landlock's goal is to create scoped access-control (i.e. sandboxing).  To
+harden a whole system, this feature should be available to any process,
+including unprivileged ones.  Because such process may be compromised or
+backdoored (i.e. untrusted), Landlock's features must be safe to use from the
+kernel and other processes point of view.  Landlock's interface must therefore
+expose a minimal attack surface.
+Landlock is designed to be usable by unprivileged processes while following the
+system security policy enforced by other access control mechanisms (e.g. DAC,
+LSM).  Indeed, a Landlock rule shall not interfere with other access-controls
+enforced on the system, only add more restrictions.
+Any user can enforce Landlock rulesets on their processes.  They are merged and
+evaluated according to the inherited ones in a way that ensures that only more
+constraints can be added.
+User space documentation can be found here: :doc:`/userspace-api/landlock`.
+Guiding principles for safe access controls
+* A Landlock rule shall be focused on access control on kernel objects instead
+  of syscall filtering (i.e. syscall arguments), which is the purpose of
+  seccomp-bpf.
+* To avoid multiple kinds of side-channel attacks (e.g. leak of security
+  policies, CPU-based attacks), Landlock rules shall not be able to
+  programmatically communicate with user space.
+* Kernel access check shall not slow down access request from unsandboxed
+  processes.
+* Computation related to Landlock operations (e.g. enforcing a ruleset) shall
+  only impact the processes requesting them.
+Userspace tests for backward compatibility, ptrace restrictions and filesystem
+support can be found here: `tools/testing/selftests/landlock/`_.
+Kernel structures
+.. kernel-doc:: security/landlock/object.h
+    :identifiers:
+.. kernel-doc:: security/landlock/fs.h
+    :identifiers:
+Ruleset and domain
+A domain is a read-only ruleset tied to a set of subjects (i.e. tasks'
+credentials).  Each time a ruleset is enforced on a task, the current domain is
+duplicated and the ruleset is imported as a new layer of rules in the new
+domain.  Indeed, once in a domain, each rule is tied to a layer level.  To
+grant access to an object, at least one rule of each layer must allow the
+requested action on the object.  A task can then only transit to a new domain
+that is the intersection of the constraints from the current domain and those
+of a ruleset provided by the task.
+The definition of a subject is implicit for a task sandboxing itself, which
+makes the reasoning much easier and helps avoid pitfalls.
+.. kernel-doc:: security/landlock/ruleset.h
+    :identifiers:
+.. Links
+.. _tools/testing/selftests/landlock/:
diff --git a/Documentation/userspace-api/index.rst b/Documentation/userspace-api/index.rst
index d29b020e5622..744c6491610c 100644
--- a/Documentation/userspace-api/index.rst
+++ b/Documentation/userspace-api/index.rst
@@ -18,6 +18,7 @@ place where this information is gathered.
+   landlock
diff --git a/Documentation/userspace-api/landlock.rst b/Documentation/userspace-api/landlock.rst
new file mode 100644
index 000000000000..62c9361a3c7f
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/userspace-api/landlock.rst
@@ -0,0 +1,311 @@
+.. SPDX-License-Identifier: GPL-2.0
+.. Copyright © 2017-2020 Mickaël Salaün <>
+.. Copyright © 2019-2020 ANSSI
+.. Copyright © 2021 Microsoft Corporation
+Landlock: unprivileged access control
+:Author: Mickaël Salaün
+:Date: March 2021
+The goal of Landlock is to enable to restrict ambient rights (e.g. global
+filesystem access) for a set of processes.  Because Landlock is a stackable
+LSM, it makes possible to create safe security sandboxes as new security layers
+in addition to the existing system-wide access-controls. This kind of sandbox
+is expected to help mitigate the security impact of bugs or
+unexpected/malicious behaviors in user space applications.  Landlock empowers
+any process, including unprivileged ones, to securely restrict themselves.
+Landlock rules
+A Landlock rule describes an action on an object.  An object is currently a
+file hierarchy, and the related filesystem actions are defined with `access
+rights`_.  A set of rules is aggregated in a ruleset, which can then restrict
+the thread enforcing it, and its future children.
+Defining and enforcing a security policy
+We first need to create the ruleset that will contain our rules.  For this
+example, the ruleset will contain rules that only allow read actions, but write
+actions will be denied.  The ruleset then needs to handle both of these kind of
+.. code-block:: c
+    int ruleset_fd;
+    struct landlock_ruleset_attr ruleset_attr = {
+        .handled_access_fs =
+    };
+    ruleset_fd = landlock_create_ruleset(&ruleset_attr, sizeof(ruleset_attr), 0);
+    if (ruleset_fd < 0) {
+        perror("Failed to create a ruleset");
+        return 1;
+    }
+We can now add a new rule to this ruleset thanks to the returned file
+descriptor referring to this ruleset.  The rule will only allow reading the
+file hierarchy ``/usr``.  Without another rule, write actions would then be
+denied by the ruleset.  To add ``/usr`` to the ruleset, we open it with the
+``O_PATH`` flag and fill the &struct landlock_path_beneath_attr with this file
+.. code-block:: c
+    int err;
+    struct landlock_path_beneath_attr path_beneath = {
+        .allowed_access =
+    };
+    path_beneath.parent_fd = open("/usr", O_PATH | O_CLOEXEC);
+    if (path_beneath.parent_fd < 0) {
+        perror("Failed to open file");
+        close(ruleset_fd);
+        return 1;
+    }
+    err = landlock_add_rule(ruleset_fd, LANDLOCK_RULE_PATH_BENEATH,
+                            &path_beneath, 0);
+    close(path_beneath.parent_fd);
+    if (err) {
+        perror("Failed to update ruleset");
+        close(ruleset_fd);
+        return 1;
+    }
+We now have a ruleset with one rule allowing read access to ``/usr`` while
+denying all other handled accesses for the filesystem.  The next step is to
+restrict the current thread from gaining more privileges (e.g. thanks to a SUID
+.. code-block:: c
+    if (prctl(PR_SET_NO_NEW_PRIVS, 1, 0, 0, 0)) {
+        perror("Failed to restrict privileges");
+        close(ruleset_fd);
+        return 1;
+    }
+The current thread is now ready to sandbox itself with the ruleset.
+.. code-block:: c
+    if (landlock_restrict_self(ruleset_fd, 0)) {
+        perror("Failed to enforce ruleset");
+        close(ruleset_fd);
+        return 1;
+    }
+    close(ruleset_fd);
+If the `landlock_restrict_self` system call succeeds, the current thread is now
+restricted and this policy will be enforced on all its subsequently created
+children as well.  Once a thread is landlocked, there is no way to remove its
+security policy; only adding more restrictions is allowed.  These threads are
+now in a new Landlock domain, merge of their parent one (if any) with the new
+Full working code can be found in `samples/landlock/sandboxer.c`_.
+Layers of file path access rights
+Each time a thread enforces a ruleset on itself, it updates its Landlock domain
+with a new layer of policy.  Indeed, this complementary policy is stacked with
+the potentially other rulesets already restricting this thread.  A sandboxed
+thread can then safely add more constraints to itself with a new enforced
+One policy layer grants access to a file path if at least one of its rules
+encountered on the path grants the access.  A sandboxed thread can only access
+a file path if all its enforced policy layers grant the access as well as all
+the other system access controls (e.g. filesystem DAC, other LSM policies,
+Bind mounts and OverlayFS
+Landlock enables to restrict access to file hierarchies, which means that these
+access rights can be propagated with bind mounts (cf.
+:doc:`/filesystems/sharedsubtree`) but not with :doc:`/filesystems/overlayfs`.
+A bind mount mirrors a source file hierarchy to a destination.  The destination
+hierarchy is then composed of the exact same files, on which Landlock rules can
+be tied, either via the source or the destination path.  These rules restrict
+access when they are encountered on a path, which means that they can restrict
+access to multiple file hierarchies at the same time, whether these hierarchies
+are the result of bind mounts or not.
+An OverlayFS mount point consists of upper and lower layers.  These layers are
+combined in a merge directory, result of the mount point.  This merge hierarchy
+may include files from the upper and lower layers, but modifications performed
+on the merge hierarchy only reflects on the upper layer.  From a Landlock
+policy point of view, each OverlayFS layers and merge hierarchies are
+standalone and contains their own set of files and directories, which is
+different from bind mounts.  A policy restricting an OverlayFS layer will not
+restrict the resulted merged hierarchy, and vice versa.  Landlock users should
+then only think about file hierarchies they want to allow access to, regardless
+of the underlying filesystem.
+Every new thread resulting from a :manpage:`clone(2)` inherits Landlock domain
+restrictions from its parent.  This is similar to the seccomp inheritance (cf.
+:doc:`/userspace-api/seccomp_filter`) or any other LSM dealing with task's
+:manpage:`credentials(7)`.  For instance, one process's thread may apply
+Landlock rules to itself, but they will not be automatically applied to other
+sibling threads (unlike POSIX thread credential changes, cf.
+When a thread sandboxes itself, we have the guarantee that the related security
+policy will stay enforced on all this thread's descendants.  This allows
+creating standalone and modular security policies per application, which will
+automatically be composed between themselves according to their runtime parent
+Ptrace restrictions
+A sandboxed process has less privileges than a non-sandboxed process and must
+then be subject to additional restrictions when manipulating another process.
+To be allowed to use :manpage:`ptrace(2)` and related syscalls on a target
+process, a sandboxed process should have a subset of the target process rules,
+which means the tracee must be in a sub-domain of the tracer.
+Kernel interface
+Access rights
+.. kernel-doc:: include/uapi/linux/landlock.h
+    :identifiers: fs_access
+Creating a new ruleset
+.. kernel-doc:: security/landlock/syscalls.c
+    :identifiers: sys_landlock_create_ruleset
+.. kernel-doc:: include/uapi/linux/landlock.h
+    :identifiers: landlock_ruleset_attr
+Extending a ruleset
+.. kernel-doc:: security/landlock/syscalls.c
+    :identifiers: sys_landlock_add_rule
+.. kernel-doc:: include/uapi/linux/landlock.h
+    :identifiers: landlock_rule_type landlock_path_beneath_attr
+Enforcing a ruleset
+.. kernel-doc:: security/landlock/syscalls.c
+    :identifiers: sys_landlock_restrict_self
+Current limitations
+File renaming and linking
+Because Landlock targets unprivileged access controls, it is needed to properly
+handle composition of rules.  Such property also implies rules nesting.
+Properly handling multiple layers of ruleset, each one of them able to restrict
+access to files, also implies to inherit the ruleset restrictions from a parent
+to its hierarchy.  Because files are identified and restricted by their
+hierarchy, moving or linking a file from one directory to another implies to
+propagate the hierarchy constraints.  To protect against privilege escalations
+through renaming or linking, and for the sake of simplicity, Landlock currently
+limits linking and renaming to the same directory.  Future Landlock evolutions
+will enable more flexibility for renaming and linking, with dedicated ruleset
+Filesystem topology modification
+As for file renaming and linking, a sandboxed thread cannot modify its
+filesystem topology, whether via :manpage:`mount(2)` or
+:manpage:`pivot_root(2)`.  However, :manpage:`chroot(2)` calls are not denied.
+Special filesystems
+Access to regular files and directories can be restricted by Landlock,
+according to the handled accesses of a ruleset.  However, files that do not
+come from a user-visible filesystem (e.g. pipe, socket), but can still be
+accessed through ``/proc/<pid>/fd/*``, cannot currently be explicitly
+restricted.  Likewise, some special kernel filesystems such as nsfs, which can
+be accessed through ``/proc/<pid>/ns/*``, cannot currently be explicitly
+restricted.  However, thanks to the `ptrace restrictions`_, access to such
+sensitive ``/proc`` files are automatically restricted according to domain
+hierarchies.  Future Landlock evolutions could still enable to explicitly
+restrict such paths with dedicated ruleset flags.
+Ruleset layers
+There is a limit of 64 layers of stacked rulesets.  This can be an issue for a
+task willing to enforce a new ruleset in complement to its 64 inherited
+rulesets.  Once this limit is reached, sys_landlock_restrict_self() returns
+E2BIG.  It is then strongly suggested to carefully build rulesets once in the
+life of a thread, especially for applications able to launch other applications
+that may also want to sandbox themselves (e.g. shells, container managers,
+Memory usage
+Kernel memory allocated to create rulesets is accounted and can be restricted
+by the :doc:`/admin-guide/cgroup-v1/memory`.
+Questions and answers
+What about user space sandbox managers?
+Using user space process to enforce restrictions on kernel resources can lead
+to race conditions or inconsistent evaluations (i.e. `Incorrect mirroring of
+the OS code and state
+What about namespaces and containers?
+Namespaces can help create sandboxes but they are not designed for
+access-control and then miss useful features for such use case (e.g. no
+fine-grained restrictions).  Moreover, their complexity can lead to security
+issues, especially when untrusted processes can manipulate them (cf.
+`Controlling access to user namespaces <>`_).
+Additional documentation
+* :doc:`/security/landlock`
+.. Links
+.. _samples/landlock/sandboxer.c:
index 88175ed1f315..7b0c6de5946a 100644
@@ -10003,6 +10003,8 @@ L:
 S:	Supported
 T:	git
+F:	Documentation/security/landlock.rst
+F:	Documentation/userspace-api/landlock.rst
 F:	include/uapi/linux/landlock.h
 F:	samples/landlock/
 F:	security/landlock/

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