Commit 7a46ec0e authored by Kees Cook's avatar Kees Cook Committed by Ingo Molnar
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locking/refcounts, x86/asm: Implement fast refcount overflow protection

This implements refcount_t overflow protection on x86 without a noticeable
performance impact, though without the fuller checking of REFCOUNT_FULL.

This is done by duplicating the existing atomic_t refcount implementation
but with normally a single instruction added to detect if the refcount
has gone negative (e.g. wrapped past INT_MAX or below zero). When detected,
the handler saturates the refcount_t to INT_MIN / 2. With this overflow
protection, the erroneous reference release that would follow a wrap back
to zero is blocked from happening, avoiding the class of refcount-overflow
use-after-free vulnerabilities entirely.

Only the overflow case of refcounting can be perfectly protected, since
it can be detected and stopped before the reference is freed and left to
be abused by an attacker. There isn't a way to block early decrements,
and while REFCOUNT_FULL stops increment-from-zero cases (which would
be the state _after_ an early decrement and stops potential double-free
conditions), this fast implementation does not, since it would require
the more expensive cmpxchg loops. Since the overflow case is much more
common (e.g. missing a "put" during an error path), this protection
provides real-world protection. For example, the two public refcount
overflow use-after-free exploits published in 2016 would have been
rendered unexploitable:

This implementation does, however, notice an unchecked decrement to zero
(i.e. caller used refcount_dec() instead of refcount_dec_and_test() and it
resulted in a zero). Decrements under zero are noticed (since they will
have resulted in a negative value), though this only indicates that a
use-after-free may have already happened. Such notifications are likely
avoidable by an attacker that has already exploited a use-after-free
vulnerability, but it's better to have them reported than allow such
conditions to remain universally silent.

On first overflow detection, the refcount value is reset to INT_MIN / 2
(which serves as a saturation value) and a report and stack trace are
produced. When operations detect only negative value results (such as
changing an already saturated value), saturation still happens but no
notification is performed (since the value was already saturated).

On the matter of races, since the entire range beyond INT_MAX but before
0 is negative, every operation at INT_MIN / 2 will trap, leaving no
overflow-only race condition.

As for performance, this implementation adds a single "js" instruction
to the regular execution flow of a copy of the standard atomic_t refcount
operations. (The non-"and_test" refcount_dec() function, which is uncommon
in regular refcount design patterns, has an additional "jz" instruction
to detect reaching exactly zero.) Since this is a forward jump, it is by
default the non-predicted path, which will be reinforced by dynamic branch
prediction. The result is this protection having virtually no measurable
change in performance over standard atomic_t operations. The error path,
located in .text.unlikely, saves the refcount location and then uses UD0
to fire a refcount exception handler, which resets the refcount, handles
reporting, and returns to regular execution. This keeps the changes to
.text size minimal, avoiding return jumps and open-coded calls to the
error reporting routine.

Example assembly comparison:

refcount_inc() before:

  ffffffff81546149:       f0 ff 45 f4             lock incl -0xc(%rbp)

refcount_inc() after:

  ffffffff81546149:       f0 ff 45 f4             lock incl -0xc(%rbp)
  ffffffff8154614d:       0f 88 80 d5 17 00       js     ffffffff816c36d3
  ffffffff816c36d3:       48 8d 4d f4             lea    -0xc(%rbp),%rcx
  ffffffff816c36d7:       0f ff                   (bad)

These are the cycle counts comparing a loop of refcount_inc() from 1
to INT_MAX and back down to 0 (via refcount_dec_and_test()), between
unprotected refcount_t (atomic_t), fully protected REFCOUNT_FULL
(refcount_t-full), and this overflow-protected refcount (refcount_t-fast):

  2147483646 refcount_inc()s and 2147483647 refcount_dec_and_test()s:
		    cycles		protections
  atomic_t           82249267387	none
  refcount_t-fast    82211446892	overflow, untested dec-to-zero
  refcount_t-full   144814735193	overflow, untested dec-to-zero, inc-from-zero

This code is a modified version of the x86 PAX_REFCOUNT atomic_t
overflow defense from the last public patch of PaX/grsecurity, based
on my understanding of the code. Changes or omissions from the original
code are mine and don't reflect the original grsecurity/PaX code. Thanks
to PaX Team for various suggestions for improvement for repurposing this
code to be a refcount-only protection.

Signed-off-by: default avatarKees Cook <>
Reviewed-by: default avatarJosh Poimboeuf <>
Cc: Alexey Dobriyan <>
Cc: Andrew Morton <>
Cc: Arnd Bergmann <>
Cc: Christoph Hellwig <>
Cc: David S. Miller <>
Cc: Davidlohr Bueso <>
Cc: Elena Reshetova <>
Cc: Eric Biggers <>
Cc: Eric W. Biederman <>
Cc: Greg KH <>
Cc: Hans Liljestrand <>
Cc: James Bottomley <>
Cc: Jann Horn <>
Cc: Linus Torvalds <>
Cc: Manfred Spraul <>
Cc: Peter Zijlstra <>
Cc: Rik van Riel <>
Cc: Serge E. Hallyn <>
Cc: Thomas Gleixner <>
Cc: linux-arch <>

Signed-off-by: default avatarIngo Molnar <>
parent 907dc16d
......@@ -931,6 +931,18 @@ config STRICT_MODULE_RWX
An architecture selects this when it has implemented refcount_t
using open coded assembly primitives that provide an optimized
refcount_t implementation, possibly at the expense of some full
refcount state checks of CONFIG_REFCOUNT_FULL=y.
The refcount overflow check behavior, however, must be retained.
Catching overflows is the primary security concern for protecting
against bugs in reference counts.
bool "Perform full reference count validation at the expense of speed"
......@@ -55,6 +55,7 @@ config X86
select ARCH_HAS_KCOV if X86_64
select ARCH_HAS_PMEM_API if X86_64
......@@ -74,6 +74,9 @@
# define _ASM_EXTABLE_EX(from, to) \
_ASM_EXTABLE_HANDLE(from, to, ex_handler_ext)
# define _ASM_EXTABLE_REFCOUNT(from, to) \
_ASM_EXTABLE_HANDLE(from, to, ex_handler_refcount)
# define _ASM_NOKPROBE(entry) \
.pushsection "_kprobe_blacklist","aw" ; \
......@@ -123,6 +126,9 @@
# define _ASM_EXTABLE_EX(from, to) \
_ASM_EXTABLE_HANDLE(from, to, ex_handler_ext)
# define _ASM_EXTABLE_REFCOUNT(from, to) \
_ASM_EXTABLE_HANDLE(from, to, ex_handler_refcount)
/* For C file, we already have NOKPROBE_SYMBOL macro */
#ifndef __ASM_X86_REFCOUNT_H
#define __ASM_X86_REFCOUNT_H
* x86-specific implementation of refcount_t. Based on PAX_REFCOUNT from
* PaX/grsecurity.
#include <linux/refcount.h>
* This is the first portion of the refcount error handling, which lives in
* .text.unlikely, and is jumped to from the CPU flag check (in the
* following macros). This saves the refcount value location into CX for
* the exception handler to use (in mm/extable.c), and then triggers the
* central refcount exception. The fixup address for the exception points
* back to the regular execution flow in .text.
".pushsection .text.unlikely\n" \
"111:\tlea %[counter], %%" _ASM_CX "\n" \
"112:\t" ASM_UD0 "\n" \
".popsection\n" \
"113:\n" \
/* Trigger refcount exception if refcount result is negative. */
"js 111f\n\t" \
/* Trigger refcount exception if refcount result is zero or negative. */
"jz 111f\n\t" \
/* Trigger refcount exception unconditionally. */
"jmp 111f\n\t" \
static __always_inline void refcount_add(unsigned int i, refcount_t *r)
asm volatile(LOCK_PREFIX "addl %1,%0\n\t"
: [counter] "+m" (r->refs.counter)
: "ir" (i)
: "cc", "cx");
static __always_inline void refcount_inc(refcount_t *r)
asm volatile(LOCK_PREFIX "incl %0\n\t"
: [counter] "+m" (r->refs.counter)
: : "cc", "cx");
static __always_inline void refcount_dec(refcount_t *r)
asm volatile(LOCK_PREFIX "decl %0\n\t"
: [counter] "+m" (r->refs.counter)
: : "cc", "cx");
static __always_inline __must_check
bool refcount_sub_and_test(unsigned int i, refcount_t *r)
r->refs.counter, "er", i, "%0", e);
static __always_inline __must_check bool refcount_dec_and_test(refcount_t *r)
r->refs.counter, "%0", e);
static __always_inline __must_check
bool refcount_add_not_zero(unsigned int i, refcount_t *r)
int c, result;
c = atomic_read(&(r->refs));
do {
if (unlikely(c == 0))
return false;
result = c + i;
/* Did we try to increment from/to an undesirable state? */
if (unlikely(c < 0 || c == INT_MAX || result < c)) {
asm volatile(REFCOUNT_ERROR
: : [counter] "m" (r->refs.counter)
: "cc", "cx");
} while (!atomic_try_cmpxchg(&(r->refs), &c, result));
return c != 0;
static __always_inline __must_check bool refcount_inc_not_zero(refcount_t *r)
return refcount_add_not_zero(1, r);
......@@ -36,6 +36,48 @@ bool ex_handler_fault(const struct exception_table_entry *fixup,
* Handler for UD0 exception following a failed test against the
* result of a refcount inc/dec/add/sub.
bool ex_handler_refcount(const struct exception_table_entry *fixup,
struct pt_regs *regs, int trapnr)
/* First unconditionally saturate the refcount. */
*(int *)regs->cx = INT_MIN / 2;
* Strictly speaking, this reports the fixup destination, not
* the fault location, and not the actually overflowing
* instruction, which is the instruction before the "js", but
* since that instruction could be a variety of lengths, just
* report the location after the overflow, which should be close
* enough for finding the overflow, as it's at least back in
* the function, having returned from .text.unlikely.
regs->ip = ex_fixup_addr(fixup);
* This function has been called because either a negative refcount
* value was seen by any of the refcount functions, or a zero
* refcount value was seen by refcount_dec().
* If we crossed from INT_MAX to INT_MIN, OF (Overflow Flag: result
* wrapped around) will be set. Additionally, seeing the refcount
* reach 0 will set ZF (Zero Flag: result was zero). In each of
* these cases we want a report, since it's a boundary condition.
if (regs->flags & (X86_EFLAGS_OF | X86_EFLAGS_ZF)) {
bool zero = regs->flags & X86_EFLAGS_ZF;
refcount_error_report(regs, zero ? "hit zero" : "overflow");
return true;
bool ex_handler_ext(const struct exception_table_entry *fixup,
struct pt_regs *regs, int trapnr)
......@@ -277,6 +277,13 @@ extern int oops_may_print(void);
void do_exit(long error_code) __noreturn;
void complete_and_exit(struct completion *, long) __noreturn;
void refcount_error_report(struct pt_regs *regs, const char *err);
static inline void refcount_error_report(struct pt_regs *regs, const char *err)
{ }
/* Internal, do not use. */
int __must_check _kstrtoul(const char *s, unsigned int base, unsigned long *res);
int __must_check _kstrtol(const char *s, unsigned int base, long *res);
......@@ -53,6 +53,9 @@ extern __must_check bool refcount_sub_and_test(unsigned int i, refcount_t *r);
extern __must_check bool refcount_dec_and_test(refcount_t *r);
extern void refcount_dec(refcount_t *r);
# include <asm/refcount.h>
# else
static inline __must_check bool refcount_add_not_zero(unsigned int i, refcount_t *r)
return atomic_add_unless(&r->refs, i, 0);
......@@ -87,6 +90,7 @@ static inline void refcount_dec(refcount_t *r)
extern __must_check bool refcount_dec_if_one(refcount_t *r);
......@@ -26,6 +26,7 @@
#include <linux/nmi.h>
#include <linux/console.h>
#include <linux/bug.h>
#include <linux/ratelimit.h>
#define PANIC_TIMER_STEP 100
#define PANIC_BLINK_SPD 18
......@@ -601,6 +602,17 @@ EXPORT_SYMBOL(__stack_chk_fail);
void refcount_error_report(struct pt_regs *regs, const char *err)
WARN_RATELIMIT(1, "refcount_t %s at %pB in %s[%d], uid/euid: %u/%u\n",
err, (void *)instruction_pointer(regs),
current->comm, task_pid_nr(current),
from_kuid_munged(&init_user_ns, current_uid()),
from_kuid_munged(&init_user_ns, current_euid()));
core_param(panic, panic_timeout, int, 0644);
core_param(pause_on_oops, pause_on_oops, int, 0644);
core_param(panic_on_warn, panic_on_warn, int, 0644);
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