RFC(v2): Audit Kernel Container IDs

Mickaël Salaün mic at digikod.net
Sat Dec 9 10:20:48 UTC 2017

On 12/10/2017 18:33, Casey Schaufler wrote:
> On 10/12/2017 7:14 AM, Richard Guy Briggs wrote:
>> Containers are a userspace concept.  The kernel knows nothing of them.
>> The Linux audit system needs a way to be able to track the container
>> provenance of events and actions.  Audit needs the kernel's help to do
>> this.
>> Since the concept of a container is entirely a userspace concept, a
>> registration from the userspace container orchestration system initiates
>> this.  This will define a point in time and a set of resources
>> associated with a particular container with an audit container ID.
>> The registration is a pseudo filesystem (proc, since PID tree already
>> exists) write of a u8[16] UUID representing the container ID to a file
>> representing a process that will become the first process in a new
>> container.  This write might place restrictions on mount namespaces
>> required to define a container, or at least careful checking of
>> namespaces in the kernel to verify permissions of the orchestrator so it
>> can't change its own container ID.  A bind mount of nsfs may be
>> necessary in the container orchestrator's mntNS.
>> Note: Use a 128-bit scalar rather than a string to make compares faster
>> and simpler.
>> Require a new CAP_CONTAINER_ADMIN to be able to carry out the
>> registration.
> Hang on. If containers are a user space concept, how can
> you want CAP_CONTAINER_ANYTHING? If there's not such thing as
> a container, how can you be asking for a capability to manage
> them?
>>   At that time, record the target container's user-supplied
>> container identifier along with the target container's first process
>> (which may become the target container's "init" process) process ID
>> (referenced from the initial PID namespace), all namespace IDs (in the
>> form of a nsfs device number and inode number tuple) in a new auxilliary
>> record AUDIT_CONTAINER with a qualifying op=$action field.

Here is an idea to avoid privilege problems or the need for a new
capability: make it automatic. What makes a container a container seems
to be the use of at least a namespace. What about automatically create
and assign an ID to a process when it enters a namespace different than
one of its parent process? This delegates the (permission)
responsibility to the use of namespaces (e.g. /proc/sys/user/max_* limit).

One interesting side effect of this approach would be to be able to
identify which processes are in the same set of namespaces, even if not
spawn from the container but entered after its creation (i.e. using
setns), by creating container IDs as a (deterministic) checksum from the
/proc/self/ns/* IDs.

Since the concern is to identify a container, I think the ability to
audit the switch from one container ID to another is enough. I don't
think we need nested IDs.

As a side note, you may want to take a look at the Linux-VServer's XID.


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