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SubjectRe: [PATCH] x86/speculation: Fill the RSB on context switch also on non-IBPB CPUs
On 03/21/2018 05:09 PM, Maciej S. Szmigiero wrote:
> As far as I understand the issue this should provide a good protection
> for userspace processes that were recompiled with retpolines as they
> won't have any indirect jumps and calls.

Instead of saying "good protection", let's just say that it could
mitigate attacks that require consumption of attacker-placed RSB entries.

>> Do you perhaps want to do RSB manipulation in lieu of IBPB when
>> switching *to* a non-dumpable process and IBPB is not available?
> Is it worth differentiating such processes in this case?
> IBPB is supposed to be very expensive so certainly it is worthwhile
> to do it only for high-value processes (=non-dumpable).
> However, it is unlikely that existing RSB entries from the previous
> task match the new task call stack anyway.
> We already do unconditional RSB-filling-on-context-switch in many
> cases.

I think this case is a bit too obscure and theoretical to complicate the
kernel with it. You need an unmitigated processor, a
userspace-to-userspace attack that manages to satisfy the five "exploit
composition" steps of Spectre/V2[1], and an application that has been

While RSB manipulation is almost certainly less onerous than IBPB, it's
still going to hurt context-switch rates, especially if applied
indiscriminately like this patch does.

So, I totally agree with your analysis about the theoretical potential
for an issue, I'm just not really convinced the fix is worth it.


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