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Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2023 12:39:48 -0500
From: "Michael S. Tsirkin" <>
To: Christophe de Dinechin <>
Cc:, "Reshetova, Elena" <>,
	Leon Romanovsky <>,
	Greg Kroah-Hartman <>,
	"Shishkin, Alexander" <>,
	"Shutemov, Kirill" <>,
	"Kuppuswamy, Sathyanarayanan" <>,
	"Kleen, Andi" <>,
	"Hansen, Dave" <>,
	Thomas Gleixner <>,
	Peter Zijlstra <>,
	"Wunner, Lukas" <>,
	Mika Westerberg <>,
	"Michael S. Tsirkin" <>,
	Jason Wang <>,
	"Poimboe, Josh" <>,
	"" <>,
	Cfir Cohen <>, Marc Orr <>,
	"" <>,
	"" <>,
	"" <>,
	James Morris <>,
	Michael Kelley <>,
	"Lange, Jon" <>,
	"" <>,
	Linux Kernel Mailing List <>,
	Kernel Hardening <>
Subject: Re: Linux guest kernel threat model for Confidential Computing

On Tue, Jan 31, 2023 at 04:14:29PM +0100, Christophe de Dinechin wrote:
> Finally, security considerations that apply irrespective of whether the
> platform is confidential or not are also outside of the scope of this
> document. This includes topics ranging from timing attacks to social
> engineering.

Why are timing attacks by hypervisor on the guest out of scope?

> </doc>
> Feel free to comment and reword at will ;-)
> 3/ PCI-as-a-threat: where does that come from
> Isn't there a fundamental difference, from a threat model perspective,
> between a bad actor, say a rogue sysadmin dumping the guest memory (which CC
> should defeat) and compromised software feeding us bad data? I think there
> is: at leats inside the TCB, we can detect bad software using measurements,
> and prevent it from running using attestation.  In other words, we first
> check what we will run, then we run it. The security there is that we know
> what we are running. The trust we have in the software is from testing,
> reviewing or using it.
> This relies on a key aspect provided by TDX and SEV, which is that the
> software being measured is largely tamper-resistant thanks to memory
> encryption. In other words, after you have measured your guest software
> stack, the host or hypervisor cannot willy-nilly change it.
> So this brings me to the next question: is there any way we could offer the
> same kind of service for KVM and qemu? The measurement part seems relatively
> easy. Thetamper-resistant part, on the other hand, seems quite difficult to
> me. But maybe someone else will have a brilliant idea?
> So I'm asking the question, because if you could somehow prove to the guest
> not only that it's running the right guest stack (as we can do today) but
> also a known host/KVM/hypervisor stack, we would also switch the potential
> issues with PCI, MSRs and the like from "malicious" to merely "bogus", and
> this is something which is evidently easier to deal with.

Agree absolutely that's much easier.

> I briefly discussed this with James, and he pointed out two interesting
> aspects of that question:
> 1/ In the CC world, we don't really care about *virtual* PCI devices. We
>    care about either virtio devices, or physical ones being passed through
>    to the guest. Let's assume physical ones can be trusted, see above.
>    That leaves virtio devices. How much damage can a malicious virtio device
>    do to the guest kernel, and can this lead to secrets being leaked?
> 2/ He was not as negative as I anticipated on the possibility of somehow
>    being able to prevent tampering of the guest. One example he mentioned is
>    a research paper [1] about running the hypervisor itself inside an
>    "outer" TCB, using VMPLs on AMD. Maybe something similar can be achieved
>    with TDX using secure enclaves or some other mechanism?

Or even just secureboot based root of trust?


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