Re: [PATCH v6 5/6] binfmt_*: scope path resolution of interpreters

From: Aleksa Sarai
Date: Sat May 11 2019 - 13:28:13 EST

On 2019-05-11, Andy Lutomirski <luto@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> >> I've lost track of the context here, but it seems to me that
> >> mitigating attacks involving accidental following of /proc links
> >> shouldn't depend on dumpability. What's the actual problem this is
> >> trying to solve again?
> >
> > The one actual security problem that I've seen related to this is
> > CVE-2019-5736. There is a write-up of it at
> > <>
> > under "Successful approach", but it goes more or less as follows:
> >
> > A container is running that doesn't use user namespaces (because for
> > some reason I don't understand, apparently some people still do that).
> > An evil process is running inside the container with UID 0 (as in,
> > GLOBAL_ROOT_UID); so if the evil process inside the container was able
> > to reach root-owned files on the host filesystem, it could write into
> > them.
> >
> > The container engine wants to spawn a new process inside the container.
> > It forks off a child that joins the container's namespaces (including
> > PID and mount namespaces), and then the child calls execve() on some
> > path in the container.
> I think that, at this point, the task should be considered owned by
> the container. Maybe we should have a better API than execve() to
> execute a program in a safer way, but fiddling with dumpability seems
> like a band-aid. In fact, the process is arguably pwned even *before*
> execve.

Yeah, execve is just the vector (though in this case it's done in order
to clear mm->dumpable). An earlier CVE (CVE-2016-9962) was very similar
but was attacking a dirfd that runc had open into the container (LXC had
a very similar bug too) -- setting !mm->dumpable was one of the
workarounds we had for this.

> A better âspawnâ API should fix this. In the mean time, I think it
> should be assumed that, if you join a containerâs namespaces, you are
> at its mercy.

This is generally how we treat containers as runtime authors, but it's
not a trivial thing to get right. In many cases the kernel APIs are
working against you -- Christian and myself have written a fair few
patches to fix holes in the kernel APIs so we can avoid these kinds of

But yes, one of the most risky parts of a container runtime is when
you're attaching to a running container because all of the helpful
introspection APIs in /proc/ suddenly become a security nightmare. A
better "spawn a process in these namespaces" API might help improve the
situation (or at least, I hope it would).

> > - You can use /proc/*/exe to get a writable fd.
> This is IMO the real bug.

I will try to send an RFC of the patchset I have for this next week or
so. Funnily enough, currently /proc/*/exe has the write bit set in its
"mode" (my series fixes this).

Aleksa Sarai
Senior Software Engineer (Containers)
SUSE Linux GmbH

Attachment: signature.asc
Description: PGP signature