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SubjectRe: [RFC] Capabilities still can't be inherited by normal programs
On Sun, Dec 2, 2012 at 3:04 PM, Andy Lutomirski <> wrote:
> On Sun, Dec 2, 2012 at 2:26 PM, Andrew G. Morgan <> wrote:
>> On Sun, Dec 2, 2012 at 10:35 AM, Andy Lutomirski <> wrote:
>>> On Sun, Dec 2, 2012 at 9:21 AM, Andrew G. Morgan <> wrote:
>>>> There is a fairly well written paper ;-) explaining how things are
>>>> supposed to work:
>>>> The inheritable set is not intended to work the way you seem to want.
>>>> Naive inheritance like that is quite explicitly the opposite of what
>>>> was designed.
>>> I'm aware that the system was designed, or perhaps evolved, to prevent
>>> users with uid != 0 from inheriting capabilities unless vfs
>>> inheritable caps are granted on a per-file basis. I want a way around
>>> that -- I want to mix non-root, capabilities, and exec. This is damn
>>> near impossible right now if I don't have CAP_SETFCAP or root's
>>> explicit, per-program cooperation. CAP_SETFCAP is essentially
>>> equivalent to "let me do anything".
>>> As it stands, using something like pam_cap to grant a user cap_net_raw
>>> is useless -- that user can't use the privilege because (unless uid ==
>>> 0) the privilege will never end up in the permitted set.
>> Have you tried adding fI of cap_net_raw to the file to be executed?
> Yes, and it works. I don't like this solution because:
> a) It doesn't scale in terms of sysadmin resources required.

By doesn't scale, you mean it requires the admin to define which
actual binaries on their system can wield privilege?

> b) It adds no real security over real inheritable capabilities. I'd
> be rather surprised if tcpdump does not have any bugs that would allow
> me to subvert it to recover its inherited capabilities. For example,
> it drops privileges like this:

In other words, an app bug can leak a privilege - one of the
privileges that it is explicitly trusted to wield. Its hard to see how
this isn't an app bug.

> if (setgid(getgid()) != 0 || setuid(getuid()) != 0 )
> fprintf(stderr, "Warning: setgid/setuid failed !\n");
> This is buggy for at least two reasons: it doesn't abort on error and
> setuid doesn't actually drop capabilities when uid 0 isn't involved.


> c) tcpdump isn't really special. I trust this user account with
> cap_net_raw, and that should be all the configuration I need.

But this is a statement about access control, and not a statement
about privilege. You trust the user to invoke something that can do
tcpdump, you don't really trust the user to generate arbitrary packets
on the network.

> d) If I really wanted, I could emulate execve without actually doing
> execve, and capabilities would be inherited.

If you could modify the executable properties of the binary that has
the privilege to wield a privilege then you are either exploiting an
app bug, or doing something the privileged binary has been trusted to

> The issue with allowing real capability inheritance is that,
> currently, it's safe for a program with fP != 0 to add an inheritable
> capability and then execve something caller-controlled. I don't know
> whether anything actually does this, but it's hard to prove that
> nothing does. Hence my idea of requiring no_new_privs to make
> capabilities inheritable.

Assuming this is not another app bug, and that's what the executable
with fP != 0 does, then that's why it was given fP != 0 - its what the
program was designed to do. Why is this an issue?

> An alternative, and considerably more intrusive, change would be to
> add a fourth mask of genuinely inheritable capabilities.

If you believe that you want to give a user the privilege to grant a
privilege to an arbitrary binary to do things like this, why not write
an app that adds file capabilities to target binaries owned by the
user? You can make it execute-only by said user and let them do
whatever they want. This requires no kernel changes.



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