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SubjectRe: overlayfs access checks on underlying layers
On 11/29/18 2:47 PM, Miklos Szeredi wrote:
> On Thu, Nov 29, 2018 at 5:14 PM Stephen Smalley <> wrote:
>> Possibly I misunderstood you, but I don't think we want to copy-up on
>> permission denial, as that would still allow the mounter to read/write
>> special files or execute regular files to which it would normally be
>> denied access, because the copy would inherit the context specified by
>> the mounter in the context mount case. It still represents an
>> escalation of privilege for the mounter. In contrast, the copy-up on
>> write behavior does not allow the mounter to do anything it could not do
>> already (i.e. read from the lower, write to the upper).
> Let's get this straight: when file is copied up, it inherits label
> from context=, not from label of lower file?

That's correct. The overlay inodes are all assigned the label from the
context= mount option, and so are any upper inodes created through the
overlay. At least that's my understanding of how it is supposed to
work. The original use case was for containers with the lower dir
labeled with a context that is read-only to the container context and
using a context that is writable by the container context for the
context= mount.

> Next question: permission to change metadata is tied to permission to
> open? Is it possible that open is denied, but metadata can be
> changed?

There is no metadata change occurring here. The overlay, upper, and
lower inodes all keep their labels intact for their lifetime (both
overlay and upper always have the context= label; upper has whatever its
original label was), unless explicitly relabeled by some process. And
when viewed through the overlay, the file always has the label specified
via context=, even before the copy-up.

> DAC model allows this: metadata change is tied to ownership, not mode
> bits. And different capability flag.
> If the same is true for MAC, then the pre-v4.20-rc1 is already
> susceptible to the privilege escalation you describe, right?

Actually, I guess there wouldn't be a privilege escalation if you
checked the mounter's ability to create the new file upon copy-up, and
checked the mounter's access to the upper inode label upon the
subsequent read, write, or execute access. Then we'd typically block
the ability to create the device file and we'd block the ability to
execute files with the label from context=.

But copy-up of special files seems undesirable for other reasons (e.g.
requiring mounters to be allowed to create device nodes just to permit
client's to read/write them, possible implications for nodev/noexec,
implications for socket and fifo files).

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