[PATCH V6 05/10] audit: log creation and deletion of namespace instances

Steve Grubb sgrubb at redhat.com
Fri May 15 13:17:24 UTC 2015

On Thursday, May 14, 2015 08:31:45 PM Eric W. Biederman wrote:
> Paul Moore <pmoore at redhat.com> writes:
> > As Eric, and others, have stated, the container concept is a userspace
> > idea, not a kernel idea; the kernel only knows, and cares about,
> > namespaces.  This is unlikely to change.
> > 
> > However, as Steve points out, there is precedence for the kernel to record
> > userspace tokens for the sake of audit.  Personally I'm not a big fan of
> > this in general, but I do recognize that it does satisfy a legitimate
> > need.  Think of things like auid and the sessionid as necessary evils;
> > audit is already chock full of evilness I doubt one more will doom us all
> > to hell.
> > 
> > Moving forward, I'd like to see the following:
> > 
> > * Create a container ID token (unsigned 32-bit integer?), similar to
> > auid/sessionid, that is set by userspace and carried by the kernel to be
> > used in audit records.  I'd like to see some discussion on how we manage
> > this, e.g. how do handle container ID inheritance, how do we handle
> > nested containers (setting the containerid when it is already set), do we
> > care if multiple different containers share the same namespace config,
> > etc.?
> > 
> > Can we all live with this?  If not, please suggest some alternate ideas;
> > simply shouting "IT'S ALL CRAP!" isn't helpful for anyone ... it may be
> > true, but it doesn't help us solve the problem ;)
> Without stopping and defining what someone means by container I think it
> is pretty much nonsense.

Maybe this is what's hanging everyone up? Its easy to get lost when your view 
is down at the syscall level and what is happening in the kernel. Starting a 
container is akin to the idea of login. Not every call to setresuid is a 
login. It could be a setuid program starting or a daemon dropping privileges. 
The idea of a container is a higher level concept that starting a name space. 
I think comparing a login with a container is a useful analogy because both 
are higher level concepts but employ low level ideas. A login is a collection 
of chdir, setuid, setgid, allocating a tty, associating the first 3 file 
descriptors, setting a process group, and starting a specific executable. All 
these low level concepts each by itself is not special.

A container is what we need auditing events around not creation of namespaces. 
If we want creation of namespaces, we can audit the clone/unshare/setns 
syscalls. The container is when a managing program such as docker, lxc, or 
sometimes systemd creates a special operating environment for the express 
purpose of running programs disassociated in some way from the parent 
namespaces, cgroups, and security assumptions. Its this orchestration, just as 
sshd orchestrates a login, that makes it different.

> Should every vsftp connection get a container every?  Every chrome tab?

No. Also, note that not every program that grants a user session constitutes a 

> At some of the connections per second numbers I have seen we might
> exhaust a 32bit number in an hour or two.  Will any of that make sense
> to someone reading the audit logs?

I would agree if we were auditing creation of name spaces. But going back to 
the concept of login, these could occur at a high rate. This is a bruteforce 
login attack. We put countermeasures in place to prevent it. But it is 
possible for the session id to wrap. But in our case, things like lxc or 
docker don't start hundreds of these a minute.

> Without considerning that container creation is an unprivileged
> operation I think it is pretty much nonsense.  Do I get to say I am any
> container I want?  That would seem to invalidate the concept of
> userspace setting a container id.

It would need to be a privileged operation just as setuid is.

> How does any of this interact with setns?  AKA entering a container?

We have to audit this. For the moment, auditing the setns syscall may be 
enough. I'd have to look at the lifecycle of the application that's doing this 
to determine if we need more.

> I will go as far as looking at patches.  If someone comes up with
> a mission statement about what they are actually trying to achieve and a
> mechanism that actually achieves that, and that allows for containers to
> nest we can talk about doing something like that.

Auditing wouldn't impose any restrictions on this. We just need a way to 
observe actions within and associate them as needed to investigate violations 
of security policy.
> But for right now I just hear proposals for things that make no sense
> and can not possibly work.  Not least because it will require modifying
> every program that creates a container and who knows how many of them
> there are.

We only care about a couple programs doing the orchestration. They will need 
to have the right support added to them. I'm hoping the analogy of a login 
helps demonstrate what we are after.


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