Follow @Openwall on Twitter for new release announcements and other news
[<prev] [day] [month] [year] [list]
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 2021 19:15:19 +0000
From: Nadav Amit <>
To: "" <>
CC: Mike Kravetz <>, Greg Kroah-Hartman
	<>, Security Officers <>, Andrew
 Morton <>
Subject: CVE-2021-4002: Linux kernel: Missing TLB flush on hugetlbfs

On Linux kernel 3.6 and later it is possible for an attacker to leak or change
data that resides on hugetlbfs. Such data can reside on hugetlbfs, for
instance, if the victim runs mmap() using the MAP_HUGETLB or shmget() with
SHM_HUGETLB. If a victim maps executable code onto hugetlbfs, the executable
can be modified as well.

The bug is caused due to a missing TLB flush when unmapping of a page of PMDs
is performed by clearing a PUD. While the comment in the code claims that it
is safe, it is not, since no flush would take place under these circumstances
(unless, of course, it was needed for some other reason).

Apparently the bug existed since commit 24669e58477e ("hugetlb: use mmu_gather
instead of a temporary linked list for accumulating pages)” which means that
it existed since kernel 3.6. There might be some mitigating factors in
certain older kernels on certain architectures. For instance, x86 performed
TLB flushes on huge-pages more eagerly in the past.


The fix is upstreamed as commit a4a118f2eead ("hugetlbfs: flush TLBs correctly
after huge_pmd_unshare”). Backporting of the fix to older kernels is in

To fix the bug a call to tlb_flush_pmd_range() is needed from
__unmap_hugepage_range() when huge_pmd_unshare() succeeds, and forcing a flush
before returning from __unmap_hugepage_range().


An attacker can using shmget() 512 pages of 2MB map twice which are aligned to
PUD alignment and fault in some of the pages. As the pages are properly
aligned, the kernel would share a PUD between the mappings. Later the
attacker would remove the mappings and the shared memory segments. 

The first mapping that is removed does not trigger a TLB flush due to a bug
in __unmap_hugepage_range(). Later, if the kernel reallocates the huge-pages
to another process shortly after, an attacker would be able to read and write
these huge-pages for some time (until TLB flush happens for some other reason
later on).

A proof of concept is attached. The PoC creates a child process that allocates
a huge-page and this data is leaked back to the parent. There is no need for
the attacker to be the parent of the child and this is only implemented in
such manner for simplicity. The PoC fails on the first iteration on my system
repeatedly (although it is written to make multiple attack attempts).

To make it work the PoC work, configure the number of pages to 512
("echo 512 > /proc/sys/vm/nr_hugepages"), so huge-pages will be available for
the PoC and will be reused by the victim.

Download attachment "poc.c" of type "application/octet-stream" (3271 bytes)

Powered by blists - more mailing lists

Please check out the Open Source Software Security Wiki, which is counterpart to this mailing list.

Confused about mailing lists and their use? Read about mailing lists on Wikipedia and check out these guidelines on proper formatting of your messages.