"Apparmor can go play with itself. The proper fix is to lift the LSM nonsense into callers and leave vfs_...() alone."
"This document is intended to specify the security goal that AppArmor is intended to achieve, so that users can evaluate whether AppArmor will meet their needs, and kernel developers can evaluate whether AppArmor is living up to its claims. This document is *not* a general purpose explanation of how AppArmor works, nor is it an explanation for why one might want to use AppArmor rather than some other system," began Crispin Cowan, following Arjan van de Ven's earlier suggestion to document security module intent. Crispin continued:
"AppArmor is intended to protect systems from attackers exploiting vulnerabilities in applications that the system hosts. The threat is that an attacker can cause a vulnerable application to do something unexpected and undesirable. AppArmor addresses this threat by confining the application to access only the resources it needs to access to execute properly, effectively imposing 'least privilege' execution on the application.
"Applications have access to a number of resources including files, interprocess communication, networking, capabilities, and execution of other applications. The purpose of least privilege is to bound the damage that a malicious user or code can do by removing access to all resources that the application does not need for its intended function. For instance, a policy for a web server might grant read only access to most web documents, preventing an attacker who can corrupt the web server from defacing the web pages."
"I'd like to ask you to put a file in Documentation/ somewhere that describes what AppArmor's intended security protection is (it's different from SELinux for sure for example); by having such a document for each LSM user, end users and distros can make a more informed decision which module suits their requirements..." Arjan van de Ven suggested in an attempt to help focus future Linux Security Module discussions on technical issues. He explained, "it also makes it possible to look at the implementation to see if it has gaps to the intent, without getting into a pissing contest about which security model is better; but unless the security goals are explicitly described that's a trap that will keep coming back... so please spend some time on getting a good description going here.." Arjan continued:
"My main concern for now is a description of what it tries to protect against/in what cases you would expect to use it. THe reason for asking this explicitly is simple: Until now the LSM discussions always ended up in a nasty mixed up mess around disagreeing on the theoretical model of what to protect against and the actual implementation of the threat protection. The only way I can think of to get out of this mess is to have the submitter of the security model give a description of what his protection model is (and unless it's silly, not argue about that), and then only focus on how the code manages to achieve this model, to make sure there's no big gaps in it, within its own goals/reference."
"Despite my heart-felt feelings that we should support different people in trying out different things, one of the issues is also that I'm obviously not myself a security person. I can 'decree' all I want, but in the end, I really want the people *involved* to merge security stuff," Linus Torvalds explained during the ongoing discussions surrounding the Linux Security Modules code. He added, "there's the 'core LSM hooks' on one side, but there's also the 'what modules make any sense at all to merge?' on the other, and I really don't have the expertise to make any sensible judgments except for the pure 'process' judgment that we should not hardcode things to just one module!" Linus pointed out that Chris Wright is currently listed as the only LSM maintainer, but hopefully others would step up to help:
"Quite frankly, I do not want to take it over. I really really really hope that people that are interested in security can work this thing out, and my only requirement is that it doesn't end up being any kind of force-feeding of opinions and ideas, since clearly there is tons of room for disagreement in the area.."
"In a nutshell, there is no safe way to unload an LSM. The modular interface is thus unecessary and broken infrastructure. It is used only by out-of-tree modules, which are often binary-only, illegal, abusive of the API and dangerous, e.g. silently re-vectoring SELinux," explained James Morris in an October 17'th commit message converting LSM to be a static interface. Andreas Gruenbacher countered, "LSM can be abused ... so what, this doesn't mean the interface is bad. Non-LSM loadable modules have been known to do lots of bad things, and yet nobody made them non-loadable either (yet)." Linus Torvalds explained that he was willing to unmerge the commit if a valid use for unloadable modules was demonstrated, "I repeat: we can undo that commit, but I will damn well not care one whit about yet another pointless security model flamewar."
Jan Engelhardt pointed to his multiadm security framework which provides multiple "root" users each with unique UIDs as an example of an LSM that benefits from supporting loading and unloading modules. "The use case is so that profs (taking the role of sub-admins), can operate on student's data/processes/etc. (quite often needed), but without having the full root privileges," Jan explained, adding, "this LSM basically grants extra rights unlike most other LSMs, which is why modprobe makes much more sense here.(It also does not have to do any security labelling that would require it to be loaded at boot time already.)" James acknowledged, "based on Linus' criteria, this appears to be a case for reverting the static LSM patch."
In a brief follow up to the earlier pluggable security discussion, Thomas Fricaccia reflected on the implications for the various security frameworks, "I noticed James Morris' proposal to eliminate the LSM in favor of ordaining SELinux as THE security framework forever and amen, followed by the definitive decision by Linus that LSM would remain." He then commented on a recent merged patch preventing the loading of security modules into a running kernel, "but then I noticed that, while the LSM would remain in existence, it was being closed to out-of-tree security frameworks. Yikes! Since then, I've been following the rush to put SMACK, TOMOYO and AppArmor 'in-tree'." Linus Torvalds replied:
"Yeah, it did come up. Andrew, when he sent it on to me, said that the SuSE people were ok with it (AppArmor), but I'm with you - I applied it, but I'm also perfectly willing to unapply it if there actually are valid out-of-tree users that people push for not merging. So Í don't think this is settled in any way - please keep discussing, and bringing it up. I'm definitely not in the camp that thinks that LSM needs to be 'controlled', but on the other hand, I'm also not going to undo that commit unless there are good real arguments for undoing it (not just theoretical ones).
"For example, I do kind of see the point that a 'real' security model might want to be compiled-in, and not something you override from a module. Of course, I'm personally trying to not use any modules at all, so I'm just odd and contrary, so whatever.. Real usage scenarios with LSM modules, please speak up!"
Casey Schaufler posted an updated Smack patchset based on feedback from the previous posting, "I have broken the Smack patch into the netlabel changes from Paul Moore (1/2) and the Smack LSM (2/2), at Paul's kind suggestion." He added:
"The smackfs symlinks have proven too contentious. I have removed the facility. Al and Alan are correct that the rich set of mount options currently available can handle any of the use cases I was looking at without excessive difficulty."
Smack is the Simplified Mandatory Access Control Kernel, utilizing the LSM framework to implement label-based mandatory access control and slated for inclusion in the upcoming 2.6.24 mainline kernel during the 2.6.24-rc1 merge window.
"I think the decision to merge Smack is something that needs to be considered in the wider context of overall security architecture," suggested James Morris following Andrew Morton's recent comment that he plans to merge the functionality in the upcoming 2.6.24 kernel. While James had no complaints about Smack itself, he expressed concerns regarding the pluggable nature of LSM, which is used by Smack, cautioning, "if LSM remains, security will never be a first class citizen of the kernel," adding, "on a broader scale, we'll miss the potential of Linux having a coherent, semantically strong security architecture." He noted that he'd rather see SELinux as the sole Linux security framework, "merging Smack, however, would lock the kernel into the LSM API. Presently, as SELinux is the only in-tree user, LSM can still be removed."
Linus Torvalds firmly stated, "LSM stays in. No ifs, buts, maybes or anything else." He explained, "you security people are insane. I'm tired of this 'only my version is correct' crap. The whole and only point of LSM was to get away from that." Linus continued, "I guess I have to merge AppArmor and SMACK just to get this *disease* off the table. You're acting like a string theorist, claiming that t here is no other viable theory out there. Stop it. It's been going on for too damn long." Stephen Smalley responded, "you argued against pluggable schedulers, right? Why is security different?" Linus explained:
"Schedulers can be objectively tested. There's this thing called 'performance', that can generally be quantified on a load basis.
"Yes, you can have crazy ideas in both schedulers and security. Yes, you can simplify both for a particular load. Yes, you can make mistakes in both. But the *discussion* on security seems to never get down to real numbers. So the difference between them is simple: one is 'hard science'. The other one is 'people wanking around with their opinions'."
"Smack is the Simplified Mandatory Access Control Kernel," Casey Schaufler said posting the third version of his patchest. He explained, "Smack implements mandatory access control (MAC) using labels attached to tasks and data containers, including files, SVIPC, and other tasks. Smack is a kernel based scheme that requires an absolute minimum of application support and a very small amount of configuration data." Casey continued:
"Smack is implemented as a clean LSM. It requires no external code changes and the patch modifies only the Kconfig and Makefile in the security directory. Smack uses extended attributes and provides a set of general mount options, borrowing technics used elsewhere. Smack uses netlabel for CIPSO labeling. Smack provides a pseudo-filesystem smackfs that is used for manipulation of system Smack attributes."
Andrew Morton replied to Casy's lengthy description, "I don't know enough about security even to be dangerous. I went back and reviewed the August thread from your version 1 submission and the message I take away is that the code has been well-received and looks good when considered on its own merits, but selinux could probably be configured to do something sufficiently similar." He added, "so with the information which I presently have available to me, I'm thinking that this should go into 2.6.24."