Intel IBT Patches For Linux Back On Track

Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 20 February 2022 at 07:06 AM EST. Add A Comment
Last month Intel posted a new set of Linux patches for shadow stack support as part of the Control-flow Enforcement Technology (CET) found within their latest processors. Also part of Intel's CET is Indirect Branch Tracking (IBT) while Intel said they were going to first focus on shadow stack (SS) and worry about IBT later. Less than one month later, new Indirect Branch Tracking patches for the Linux kernel have been taking shape.

The SS portion of CET is focused on protecting against return-oriented programming (ROP) attacks. The Indirect Branch Tracking meanwhile provides hardware safeguards against jump/call oriented programming attacks (JOP / COP). While IBT Linux patches have been posted before, they haven't been mainlined yet and apparently not as much of a focus as the SS capabilities. In any event, Peter Zijlstra recently took to working on IBT integration for the Linux kernel and it's been making great progress.

On Friday there were 29 patches sent out by Zijlstra for the latest IBT kernel support. In there he shared the promising state of this IBT support:
This is an (almost!) complete Kernel IBT implementation. It's been self-hosting for a few days now. That is, it runs on IBT enabled hardware (Tigerlake) and is capable of building the next kernel.

It is also almost clean on allmodconfig using GCC-11.2.

The biggest TODO item at this point is Clang, I've not yet looked at that.

More details on CET can be found at CET hardware support initially premiered with Intel Tiger Lake processors.
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