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Xen Security Advisory XSA-217
page transfer may allow PV guest to elevate privilege
UPDATES IN VERSION 2
Domains controlling other domains are permitted to map pages owned by
the domain being controlled. If the controlling domain unmaps such a
page without flushing the TLB, and if soon after the domain being
controlled transfers this page to another PV domain (via
GNTTABOP_transfer or, indirectly, XENMEM_exchange), and that third
domain uses the page as a page table, the controlling domain will have
write access to a live page table until the applicable TLB entry is
flushed or evicted. Note that the domain being controlled is
necessarily HVM, while the controlling domain is PV.
A malicious pair of guests may be able to access all of system memory,
allowing for all of privilege escalation, host crashes, and
All Xen versions are vulnerable.
Only x86 systems are affected. ARM systems are not vulnerable.
Only systems where an attacker can control both a PV and an HVM guest
are vulnerable. This must be presumed to include systems containing
HVM domains with service domains such as stub domain device models.
Systems containing only PV guests are not vulnerable.
Systems containing only HVM domains serviced by dom0 device model
processes are not vulnerable. Note that with libxl, xl, and libvirt,
HVM domains use dom0 device model processes by default.
There is no mitigation for this vulnerability.
Switching from stub device models to dom0 process device models is not
recommended as a mitigation, as in practice the vulnerability is
likely to be hard to exploit through this route; whereas dom0 process
device models may have unknown vulnerabilities.
This issue was discovered by Jann Horn of Google Project Zero.
Applying the appropriate attached patch resolves this issue.
xsa217.patch xen-unstable, Xen 4.8.x, Xen 4.7.x, Xen 4.6.x
xsa217-4.5.patch Xen 4.5.x
$ sha256sum xsa217*
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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