codeblog code is freedom — patching my itch

May 14, 2009

partial NX emulation in Ubuntu

Filed under: Security,Ubuntu — kees @ 9:18 am

Now available for early testing, Ubuntu Karmic Alpha 1 has a kernel feature I’ve long wanted in Ubuntu: NX emulation. Basically, if your hardware lacks NX support, the kernel will emulate the feature using memory segment limits and ordering. This was AFAIBT originally developed by PaX, and a similar version (with histories including work by Solar Designer and maybe OpenBSD?) has been carried in RedHat/Fedora for a while now (under the larger project called “ExecShield”, covering multiple protection technologies).

As more and more of the monolithic ExecShield kernel patch has been taken upstream (many thanks to Arjan van de Ven for pushing them), the patch in RedHat has been shrinking. Recently, Dave Jones split up the remaining pieces into logical chunks small enough that I could actually read it without going cross-eyed. From this, I ported the nx-emulation patches to Ubuntu’s kernel, and now they’re happily live in Karmic.

So, instead of this:

$ ./vulnerable-setuid-program $OVERFLOW_AND_SHELLCODE
# id
uid=0(root) gid=0(root) groups=0(root)

We get this:

$ ./vulnerable-setuid-program $OVERFLOW_AND_SHELLCODE
Segmentation fault (core dumped)
$ dmesg | tail -n1
[170131.763976] vulnerable-set[16278]: general protection ip:80489c5 sp:bfa3e330 error:0 in vulnerable-setuid-program[8048000+1000]

Though, as always, please just use 64bit instead. :)

Update: gave credit to PaX, thanks for the corrections!

© 2009, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
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