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[PATCH 4.14 059/105] fork: record start_time late

4.14-stable review patch.  If anyone has any objections, please let me know.


From: David Herrmann <dh.herrmann@xxxxxxxxx>

commit 7b55851367136b1efd84d98fea81ba57a98304cf upstream.

This changes the fork(2) syscall to record the process start_time after
initializing the basic task structure but still before making the new
process visible to user-space.

Technically, we could record the start_time anytime during fork(2).  But
this might lead to scenarios where a start_time is recorded long before
a process becomes visible to user-space.  For instance, with
userfaultfd(2) and TLS, user-space can delay the execution of fork(2)
for an indefinite amount of time (and will, if this causes network
access, or similar).

By recording the start_time late, it much closer reflects the point in
time where the process becomes live and can be observed by other

Lastly, this makes it much harder for user-space to predict and control
the start_time they get assigned.  Previously, user-space could fork a
process and stall it in copy_thread_tls() before its pid is allocated,
but after its start_time is recorded.  This can be misused to later-on
cycle through PIDs and resume the stalled fork(2) yielding a process
that has the same pid and start_time as a process that existed before.
This can be used to circumvent security systems that identify processes
by their pid+start_time combination.

Even though user-space was always aware that start_time recording is
flaky (but several projects are known to still rely on start_time-based
identification), changing the start_time to be recorded late will help
mitigate existing attacks and make it much harder for user-space to
control the start_time a process gets assigned.

Reported-by: Jann Horn <jannh@xxxxxxxxxx>
Signed-off-by: Tom Gundersen <teg@xxxxxxx>
Signed-off-by: David Herrmann <dh.herrmann@xxxxxxxxx>
Signed-off-by: Linus Torvalds <torvalds@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Signed-off-by: Greg Kroah-Hartman <gregkh@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

 kernel/fork.c |   13 +++++++++++--
 1 file changed, 11 insertions(+), 2 deletions(-)

--- a/kernel/fork.c
+++ b/kernel/fork.c
@@ -1672,8 +1672,6 @@ static __latent_entropy struct task_stru
-	p->start_time = ktime_get_ns();
-	p->real_start_time = ktime_get_boot_ns();
 	p->io_context = NULL;
 	p->audit_context = NULL;
@@ -1838,6 +1836,17 @@ static __latent_entropy struct task_stru
 		goto bad_fork_free_pid;
+	 * From this point on we must avoid any synchronous user-space
+	 * communication until we take the tasklist-lock. In particular, we do
+	 * not want user-space to be able to predict the process start-time by
+	 * stalling fork(2) after we recorded the start_time but before it is
+	 * visible to the system.
+	 */
+	p->start_time = ktime_get_ns();
+	p->real_start_time = ktime_get_boot_ns();
+	/*
 	 * Make it visible to the rest of the system, but dont wake it up yet.
 	 * Need tasklist lock for parent etc handling!