Re: repeatable boot randomness inside KVM guest
- Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2018 18:44:19 -0400
- From: "Theodore Y. Ts'o" <tytso@xxxxxxx>
- Subject: Re: repeatable boot randomness inside KVM guest
kvm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, security@xxxxxxxxxx moved to bcc
On Sat, Apr 14, 2018 at 10:59:21PM +0300, Alexey Dobriyan wrote:
> SLAB allocators got CONFIG_SLAB_FREELIST_RANDOM option which randomizes
> allocation pattern inside a slab:
> int cache_random_seq_create(struct kmem_cache *cachep, unsigned int count, gfp_t gfp)
> /* Get best entropy at this stage of boot */
> prandom_seed_state(&state, get_random_long());
> Then I printed actual random sequences for each kmem cache.
> Turned out they were all the same for most of the caches and
> they didn't vary across guest reboots.
The problem is at the super-early state of the boot path, kernel code
can't allocate memory. This is something most device drivers kinda
assume they can do. :-)
So it means we haven't yet initialized the virtio-rng driver, and it's
before interrupts have been enabled, so we can't harvest any entropy
from interrupt timing. So that's why trying to use virtio-rng didn't
> The only way to get randomness for SLAB is to enable RDRAND inside guest.
> Is it KVM bug?
No, it's not a KVM bug. The fundamental issue is in how the
CONFIG_SLAB_FREELIST_RANDOM is currently implemented.
What needs to happen is freelist should get randomized much later in
the boot sequence. Doing it later will require locking; I don't know
enough about the slab/slub code to know whether the slab_mutex would
be sufficient, or some other lock might need to be added.
The other thing I would note that is that using prandom_u32_state() doesn't
really provide much security. In fact, if the the goal is to protect
against a malicious attacker trying to guess what addresses will be
returned by the slab allocator, I suspect it's much like the security
patdowns done at airports. It might protect against a really stupid
attacker, but it's mostly security theater.
The freelist randomization is only being done once; so it's not like
performance is really an issue. It would be much better to just use
get_random_u32() and be done with it. I'd drop using prandom_*
functions in slab.c and slubct and slab_common.c, and just use a
really random number generator, if the goal is real security as
opposed to security for show....
(Not that there's necessarily any thing wrong with security theater;
the US spends over 3 billion dollars a year on security theater. As
politicians know, symbolism can be important. :-)