|RFC-0199: Protect child VMARs
Allow zx_vmar_protect to apply to mappings in child VMARs.
|Date submitted (year-month-day)
|Date reviewed (year-month-day)
zx_vmar_protect to reduce permissions for child VMARs in the range.
It is not uncommon for software, such as component loaders, on Fuchsia to place
mappings in sub VMARs, but not retain and pass on the handles to those sub
VMARs. In such circumstances it is no longer possible to perform operations such
zx_vmar_protect on these mappings, even using the root VMAR, which is
notionally the parent authority for the range.
protect cannot elevate permissions beyond what was allowed by the handles used
to create the mapping, and is typically used to provide additional error
checking in an application. For example an application might remove access
permissions to portions of their heap that are not in use, catching any
use-after-frees or other stray accesses.
For some use cases elevating permissions is not required and
protect is used
strictly to reduce permissions. In these scenarios not being able to use
protect to reduce permissions if the mappings are in a child VMAR serves to
reduce the error detection that applications can perform.
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
This proposal was previously discussed with the Zircon team.
Introduce a new right,
ZX_RIGHT_OP_CHILDREN, that controls whether operations
on an object are allowed to recurse into child objects. This proposal only gives
meaning to this right for VMARs, and will not be allowed for other objects. The
right will become part of the
Definitions of existing operations will be changed to understand this right in the following ways:
zx_vmar_protect: Gains the ability to recursively apply to mappings in subregions, with the limitation that subregion mappings can only have their permission reduced. This is discussed further in the next section.
zx_vmar_op_range: Already recursive and will respect the new right to limit this.
zx_vmar_destroy: Logically is recursive and will require the right to operate.
For all operations their API descriptions will be defined such that they return
ZX_ERR_ACCESS_DENIED when the
ZX_RIGHT_OP_CHILDREN right is not present
where the range specified contains subregions.
The kernel VMAR code is already capable of recursing into child VMARs when operating over a range and no new methods need to be designed for this as existing enumeration tools can be used.
zx_vmar_protect is the only operation gaining functionality in the presence of
ZX_RIGHT_OP_CHILDREN and this section explores how mapping permissions work
and how this will apply to
protect when applied to child mappings.
A mapping has two notions of permission.
- The intersection of the access rights of the VMAR and VMO handle used to create the mapping. This represents the maximal permissions of the mapping.
- The current operating permissions of the mapping that any accesses will be checked against. These will always be equal or less than the maximal permissions.
When first constructed the maximal permissions are inferred only from the
handle permissions, and the user has no mechanism to constrain this. The initial
operating permissions are set in the options to
zx_vmar_map, and must be less
than or equal to the maximal permissions of the handles.
After construction the operating permissions may be changed at any time using
zx_vmar_protect operation, provided the requested permissions do not
exceed the original maximal permissions.
The consequence of this is that even if the maximal permissions of the mapping
allow for reads, if the current permissions do not permit read then the access
is refused and an exception is generated. Other VMAR operations, such as
zx_vmar_op_range, act similar to
protect in being gated by the maximal
permissions, and not the current permissions.
Unlike a mapping, a VMAR only has a single notion of permission, and it cannot
be changed. A VMAR is created using
zx_vmar_allocate and it takes as input:
- Handle to parent VMAR
- Permissions for new VMAR
Here the requested permissions must, as expected, be equal or less than the permissions on the handle to the parent VMAR.
The produced child VMAR handle has its handle permissions set to match the permissions of the created VMAR, which match the requested permissions.
This produces two consequences:
- As a VMAR hierarchy is traversed permissions can only be dropped, and never increased.
- A VMAR handle never has handle rights in excess of the VMAR permissions, although it can have reduced permissions.
zx_vmar_protect operation currently has three requirements imposed on the
- The VMAR handle invoked must have the rights requested.
- The VMAR invoked by the innermost VMAR covering the range, sub VMARs will not be recursed into.
- Every mapping in the range must have sufficient maximal permissions.
With this change the second requirement is changed to instead be: every mapping in a sub-VMAR in the range must have current operating permissions equal or greater than the right requested.
This can be completely implemented in a few small CLs that:
- Introduce the
ZX_RIGHT_OP_CHILDRENinto the kernel API.
- Add support to each VMAR operation for the right, updating documentation and adding tests as required.
No performance impacts are expected. Changing the implementation to support child VMAR iteration could pessimise existing cases and the Zircon micro-benchmarks will be used to check for this.
ZX_RIGHT_OP_CHILDREN will be a default right and for existing operations
that already recursed, behavior will be unchanged.
protect will gain the
ability to recurse by default, but it is not expected, outside of tests, that
users are relying on an error being generated in this case. Therefore having
protect succeed instead of failing should not break any existing users.
The ability to place a mapping in a VMAR, protect that mapping and then throw away the handle to the VMAR is presently relied upon to create mappings that cannot then have their permissions altered. Even though the mapping has greater maximal permissions, as there is no VMAR handle, the current permissions can never be altered. Should it be possible to increase the permissions on these mappings, then security properties would be violated.
Although this proposal allows for changing the permissions in sub VMARs, it only
permits a reduction, and not an increase in permissions. As a comparable example
it is already possible to effectively reduce a subregions permissions to nothing
by using the
zx_vmar_unmap operation. Being able to selectively reduce the
permissions to something between nothing and current does not provide any
additional kinds of privilege.
Security conscious components can also remove the
any handles they have.
Drawbacks, alternatives, and unknowns
Pass all the VMAR handles
The primary alternative is to leave the kernel unchanged and change user space to track and pass along all child VMAR handles. Although conceptually simple, given this information exchange needs to happen on the component creation boundary, defining or extending APIs to transfer this information would be a non-trivial change.
Aside from the greater implementation complexity of this approach, it has generally become accepted that needing to retain and track all child VMARs or VMO handles in order to perform operations is an unreasonable burden for userspace.