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Xen Security Advisory CVE-2017-8904 / XSA-214
grant transfer allows PV guest to elevate privileges
UPDATES IN VERSION 3
The GNTTABOP_transfer operation allows one guest to transfer a page to
another guest. The internal processing of this, however, does not
include zapping the previous type of the page being transferred. This
makes it possible for a PV guest to transfer a page previously used as
part of a segment descriptor table to another guest while retaining the
"contains segment descriptors" property.
If the destination guest is a PV one of different bitness, it may gain
access to segment descriptors it is not normally allowed to have, like
64-bit code segments in a 32-bit PV guest.
If the destination guest is a HVM one, that guest may freely alter the
page contents and then hand the page back to the same or another PV
In either case, if the destination PV guest then inserts that page into
one of its own descriptor tables, the page still having the designated
type results in validation of its contents being skipped.
A malicious pair of guests may be able to access all of system memory,
allowing for all of privilege escalation, host crashes, and information
All Xen versions are vulnerable.
Only x86 systems are affected. ARM systems are not vulnerable.
Running only one out of the three relevant classes of guest (namely:
32-bit PV; 64-bit PV; HVM) on any given host will avoid the
vulnerability. (Note that this must also include any nonprivileged
service domains such as stub device model domains.)
The vulnerability can also be avoided if all guest kernels are
controlled by the host rather than guest administrator, provided that
further steps are taken to prevent the guest administrator from loading
code into the kernel (e.g. by disabling loadable modules etc) or from
using other mechanisms which allow them to run code at kernel privilege.
This issue was discovered by Jann Horn of Google Project Zero.
Applying the attached patch resolves this issue.
xsa124.patch xen-unstable, Xen 4.8.x, 4.7.x, 4.6.x, 4.5.x
$ sha256sum xsa214*
DEPLOYMENT DURING EMBARGO
Deployment of the patches and/or mitigations described above (or
others which are substantially similar) is permitted during the
embargo, even on public-facing systems with untrusted guest users and
But: Distribution of updated software is prohibited (except to other
members of the predisclosure list).
Predisclosure list members who wish to deploy significantly different
patches and/or mitigations, please contact the Xen Project Security
(Note: this during-embargo deployment notice is retained in
post-embargo publicly released Xen Project advisories, even though it
is then no longer applicable. This is to enable the community to have
oversight of the Xen Project Security Team's decisionmaking.)
For more information about permissible uses of embargoed information,
consult the Xen Project community's agreed Security Policy:
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