RFC(v2): Audit Kernel Container IDs

Richard Guy Briggs rgb at redhat.com
Thu Oct 19 00:05:27 UTC 2017

On 2017-10-17 01:10, Casey Schaufler wrote:
> On 10/16/2017 5:33 PM, Richard Guy Briggs wrote:
> > On 2017-10-12 16:33, 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?
> > There is such a thing, but the kernel doesn't know about it yet.
> Then how can it be the kernel's place to control access to a
> container resource, that is, the containerID.

Ok, let me try to address your objections.

The kernel can know enough that if it is already set to not allow it to
be set again.  Or if the user doesn't have permission to set it that the
user be denied this action.  How is this different from loginuid and
> >   This
> > same situation exists for loginuid and sessionid which are userspace
> > concepts that the kernel tracks for the convenience of userspace.
> Ah, no. Loginuid identifies a user, which is a kernel concept in
> that a user is defined by the uid.

This simple explanation doesn't help me.  What makes that a kernel
concept?  The fact that it is stored and compared in more than one

> The session ID has well defined kernel semantics. You're trying to say
> that the containerID is an opaque value that is meaningless to the
> kernel, but you still want the kernel to protect it. How can the
> kernel know if it is protecting it correctly?

How so?  A userspace process triggers this.  Does the kernel know what
these values mean?  Does it do anything with them other than report
them or allow audit to filter them?  It is given some instructions on
how to treat it.

This is what we're trying to do with the containerID.

> >   As
> > for its name, I'm not particularly picky, so if you don't like
> > CAP_CONTAINER_* then I'm fine with CAP_AUDIT_CONTAINERID.  It really
> > needs to be distinct from CAP_AUDIT_WRITE and CAP_AUDIT_CONTROL since we
> > don't want to give the ability to set a containerID to any process that
> > is able to do audit logging (such as vsftpd) and similarly we don't want
> > to give the orchestrator the ability to control the setup of the audit
> > daemon.
> Sorry, but what aspect of the kernel security policy is this
> capability supposed to protect? That's what capabilities are
> for, not the undefined support of undefined user-space behavior.

Similarly, loginuids and sessionIDs are only used for audit tracking and

> If it's audit behavior, you want CAP_AUDIT_CONTROL. If it's
> more than audit behavior you have to define what system security
> policy you're dealing with in order to pick the right capability.

It isn't audit behaviour (yet), it is audit reporting information, a
level above simply writing logs and a level below controlling daemon

> We get this request pretty regularly. "I need my own capability
> because I have a niche thing that isn't part of the system security
> policy but that is important!" Fit the containerID into the
> system security policy, and if that results in using CAP_SYS_ADMIN,
> oh well.

There's far too much piled in to CAP_SYS_ADMIN already, which is making
capabilites less and less useful.  I realize that capabilities are
limited compared with netlink message types, but this falls in between
the abilities needed by CAP_AUDIT_CONTROL and CAP_AUDIT_WRITE.

I'll continue on Steve Grubb's comment...

> >>>   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=$action field.
> >>>
> >>> Issue a new auxilliary record AUDIT_CONTAINER_INFO for each valid
> >>> container ID present on an auditable action or event.
> >>>
> >>> Forked and cloned processes inherit their parent's container ID,
> >>> referenced in the process' task_struct.
> >>>
> >>> Mimic setns(2) and return an error if the process has already initiated
> >>> threading or forked since this registration should happen before the
> >>> process execution is started by the orchestrator and hence should not
> >>> yet have any threads or children.  If this is deemed overly restrictive,
> >>> switch all threads and children to the new containerID.
> >>>
> >>> Trust the orchestrator to judiciously use and restrict CAP_CONTAINER_ADMIN.
> >>>
> >>> Log the creation of every namespace, inheriting/adding its spawning
> >>> process' containerID(s), if applicable.  Include the spawning and
> >>> spawned namespace IDs (device and inode number tuples).
> >>> [AUDIT_NS_CREATE, AUDIT_NS_DESTROY] [clone(2), unshare(2), setns(2)]
> >>> Note: At this point it appears only network namespaces may need to track
> >>> container IDs apart from processes since incoming packets may cause an
> >>> auditable event before being associated with a process.
> >>>
> >>> Log the destruction of every namespace when it is no longer used by any
> >>> process, include the namespace IDs (device and inode number tuples).
> >>> [AUDIT_NS_DESTROY] [process exit, unshare(2), setns(2)]
> >>>
> >>> Issue a new auxilliary record AUDIT_NS_CHANGE listing (opt: op=$action)
> >>> the parent and child namespace IDs for any changes to a process'
> >>> namespaces. [setns(2)]
> >>> Note: It may be possible to combine AUDIT_NS_* record formats and
> >>> distinguish them with an op=$action field depending on the fields
> >>> required for each message type.
> >>>
> >>> When a container ceases to exist because the last process in that
> >>> container has exited and hence the last namespace has been destroyed and
> >>> its refcount dropping to zero, log the fact.
> >>> (This latter is likely needed for certification accountability.)  A
> >>> container object may need a list of processes and/or namespaces.
> >>>
> >>> A namespace cannot directly migrate from one container to another but
> >>> could be assigned to a newly spawned container.  A namespace can be
> >>> moved from one container to another indirectly by having that namespace
> >>> used in a second process in another container and then ending all the
> >>> processes in the first container.
> >>>
> >>> (v2)
> >>> - switch from u64 to u128 UUID
> >>> - switch from "signal" and "trigger" to "register"
> >>> - restrict registration to single process or force all threads and children into same container
> >>>
> >>> - RGB
> > - RGB
> >
> > --
> > Richard Guy Briggs <rgb at redhat.com>
> > Sr. S/W Engineer, Kernel Security, Base Operating Systems
> > Remote, Ottawa, Red Hat Canada
> > IRC: rgb, SunRaycer
> > Voice: +1.647.777.2635, Internal: (81) 32635
> >


Richard Guy Briggs <rgb at redhat.com>
Sr. S/W Engineer, Kernel Security, Base Operating Systems
Remote, Ottawa, Red Hat Canada
IRC: rgb, SunRaycer
Voice: +1.647.777.2635, Internal: (81) 32635

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