Kernel Lockdown: Tightening Up Linux Kernel Access From User-Space
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 6 April 2017 at 06:46 AM EDT. 15 Comments
LINUX KERNEL --
Red Hat developer David Howells has posted a series of patches to make it possible to lock-down the running Linux kernel image in an effort to prevent user-space from modifying the running kernel image.

This CONFIG_LOCK_DOWN_KERNEL option would tighten up what user-space can access/modify when running in this mode, likely paired to running under UEFI SecureBoot. Some of these restrictions in the kernel lockdown mode include no unsigned modules or modules that can't validate the signature, no use of ioperm/iopl() or writing to /dev/port, no writing to /dev/mem or /dev/kmem, no hibernation support, restricting PCI BAR and MSI access, no kexec_load(), some ACPI restrictions, and restricting debugfs access too. This would sharply tighten up what user-space can access/control when running in this mode.

In terms of running the kernel in this mode, Howells commented, "The lock-down can be configured to be triggered by the EFI secure boot status, provided the shim isn't insecure. The lock-down can be lifted by typing SysRq+x on a keyboard attached to the system."

The kernel lockdown patch series can be found here. As part of that is also these 38 separate patches where he's changing module parameter calls to make it clear if a kernel module parameter is configuring hardware resources. The kernel lockdown mode would also prohibit using these kernel module configuration parameters when in this tightened up mode.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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