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commit 7b55851367136b1efd84d98fea81ba57a98304cf
parent 3bd6e94bec122a951d462c239b47954cf5f36e33
Author: David Herrmann <dh.herrmann@gmail.com>
Date:   Tue,  8 Jan 2019 13:58:52 +0100

fork: record start_time late

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@google.com>
Signed-off-by: Tom Gundersen <teg@jklm.no>
Signed-off-by: David Herrmann <dh.herrmann@gmail.com>
Signed-off-by: Linus Torvalds <torvalds@linux-foundation.org>

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

diff --git a/kernel/fork.c b/kernel/fork.c @@ -1833,8 +1833,6 @@ static __latent_entropy struct task_struct *copy_process( posix_cpu_timers_init(p); - p->start_time = ktime_get_ns(); - p->real_start_time = ktime_get_boot_ns(); p->io_context = NULL; audit_set_context(p, NULL); cgroup_fork(p); @@ -2001,6 +1999,17 @@ static __latent_entropy struct task_struct *copy_process( 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! */