removing debugfs

Kees Cook kees at
Tue Jan 25 02:19:59 UTC 2011


On Tue, Jan 25, 2011 at 11:48:13AM +1000, Ben Hutchings wrote:
> On Mon, 2011-01-24 at 14:13 -0800, Kees Cook wrote:
> > I have yet another unpopular request: I want to remove debugfs completely
> > from the built kernels. Upstream continues to put dangerous things in it,
> > and I want to avoid the problems completely.
> [...]
> I agree that it should not be mounted by default, or relied on by any
> user-space packages.  However, I don't see the need to disable it
> altogether.

My specific issue with it is the acpi_method interface, which nullifies the
/dev/mem and /dev/kmem restrictions (i.e. a root user can once again
arbitrarily write to memory). The defenses for kernel rootkits require that
the root user not have any way to write to kernel memory (nor load arbitrary

For example, without debugfs and barring unknown vulnerabilities,
if a system owner chooses at boot time to echo 1 into
/proc/sys/kernel/modules_disabled, there isn't a way to modify the
running kernel. Unfortunately, with acpi_method, this is no longer true.

I'd like to remove debugfs completely so it cannot just be trivially
mounted and abused, and to avoid potential future problems.

As mentioned, though, the minimal compromise will be to just flat remove
acpi_method, as it is a real and present danger as opposed to some set of
future unknown dangers. :)


Kees Cook
Ubuntu Security Team

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