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SubjectRe: overlayfs access checks on underlying layers
On Thu, Nov 29, 2018 at 10:16 PM Stephen Smalley <> wrote:
> On 11/29/18 4:03 PM, Stephen Smalley wrote:
> > 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
> ^^lower^^
> > 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).

I think you missed my point: opening a device file or executing an
executable wouldn't normally require copy-up. If

- permission is granted on overlay to task, and
- permission is granted on lower layer to mounter,

then copy-up wouldn't be performed.

My proposed sequence would be

a) check task's creds against overlay inode, fail -> return fail, otherwise:
b) check mounter's creds against lower inode, success -> return
success, otherwise:
c) copy up inode, fail -> return fail, otherwise
d) check mounter's creds against upper inode, return result.

So, unlike write access to regular files, write access to special
files don't necessarily result in copy-up.

You say this is an escalation of privilege, but I don't get it how.
As DWalsh points out downthread, if mounter cannot create device
files, then the copy-up will simply fail. If mounter can create
device files, then this is not an escalation of privilege for the


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