[RFC PATCH v11 12/29] KVM: Add KVM_CREATE_GUEST_MEMFD ioctl() for guest-specific backing memory

Sean Christopherson seanjc at google.com
Wed Aug 16 06:03:51 AEST 2023

On Tue, Aug 15, 2023, Ackerley Tng wrote:
> Sean Christopherson <seanjc at google.com> writes:
> >> I feel that memslots form a natural way of managing usage of the gmem
> >> file. When a memslot is created, it is using the file; hence we take a
> >> refcount on the gmem file, and as memslots are removed, we drop
> >> refcounts on the gmem file.
> >
> > Yes and no.  It's definitely more natural *if* the goal is to allow guest_memfd
> > memory to exist without being attached to a VM.  But I'm not at all convinced
> > that we want to allow that, or that it has desirable properties.  With TDX and
> > SNP in particuarly, I'm pretty sure that allowing memory to outlive the VM is
> > very underisable (more below).
> >
> This is a little confusing, with the file/inode split in gmem where the
> physical memory/data is attached to the inode and the file represents
> the VM's view of that memory, won't the memory outlive the VM?

Doh, I overloaded the term "VM".  By "VM" I meant the virtual machine as a "thing"
the rest of the world sees and interacts with, not the original "struct kvm" object.

Because yes, you're absolutely correct that the memory will outlive "struct kvm",
but it won't outlive the virtual machine, and specifically won't outlive the
ASID (SNP) / HKID (TDX) to which it's bound.

> This [1] POC was built based on that premise, that the gmem inode can be
> linked to another file and handed off to another VM, to facilitate
> intra-host migration, where the point is to save the work of rebuilding
> the VM's memory in the destination VM.
> With this, the bindings don't outlive the VM, but the data/memory
> does. I think this split design you proposed is really nice.
> >> The KVM pointer is shared among all the bindings in gmem’s xarray, and we can
> >> enforce that a gmem file is used only with one VM:
> >>
> >> + When binding a memslot to the file, if a kvm pointer exists, it must
> >>   be the same kvm as the one in this binding
> >> + When the binding to the last memslot is removed from a file, NULL the
> >>   kvm pointer.
> >
> > Nullifying the KVM pointer isn't sufficient, because without additional actions
> > userspace could extract data from a VM by deleting its memslots and then binding
> > the guest_memfd to an attacker controlled VM.  Or more likely with TDX and SNP,
> > induce badness by coercing KVM into mapping memory into a guest with the wrong
> >
> > I can think of three ways to handle that:
> >
> >   (a) prevent a different VM from *ever* binding to the gmem instance
> >   (b) free/zero physical pages when unbinding
> >   (c) free/zero when binding to a different VM
> >
> > Option (a) is easy, but that pretty much defeats the purpose of decopuling
> > guest_memfd from a VM.
> >
> > Option (b) isn't hard to implement, but it screws up the lifecycle of the memory,
> > e.g. would require memory when a memslot is deleted.  That isn't necessarily a
> > deal-breaker, but it runs counter to how KVM memlots currently operate.  Memslots
> > are basically just weird page tables, e.g. deleting a memslot doesn't have any
> > impact on the underlying data in memory.  TDX throws a wrench in this as removing
> > a page from the Secure EPT is effectively destructive to the data (can't be mapped
> > back in to the VM without zeroing the data), but IMO that's an oddity with TDX and
> > not necessarily something we want to carry over to other VM types.
> >
> > There would also be performance implications (probably a non-issue in practice),
> > and weirdness if/when we get to sharing, linking and/or mmap()ing gmem.  E.g. what
> > should happen if the last memslot (binding) is deleted, but there outstanding userspace
> > mappings?
> >
> > Option (c) is better from a lifecycle perspective, but it adds its own flavor of
> > complexity, e.g. the performant way to reclaim TDX memory requires the TDMR
> > (effectively the VM pointer), and so a deferred relcaim doesn't really work for
> > TDX.  And I'm pretty sure it *can't* work for SNP, because RMP entries must not
> > outlive the VM; KVM can't reuse an ASID if there are pages assigned to that ASID
> > in the RMP, i.e. until all memory belonging to the VM has been fully freed.
> >
> If we are on the same page that the memory should outlive the VM but not
> the bindings, then associating the gmem inode to a new VM should be a
> feature and not a bug.
> What do we want to defend against here?
> (a) Malicious host VMM
> For a malicious host VMM to read guest memory (with TDX and SNP), it can
> create a new VM with the same HKID/ASID as the victim VM, rebind the
> gmem inode to a VM crafted with an image that dumps the memory.
> I believe it is not possible for userspace to arbitrarily select a
> matching HKID unless userspace uses the intra-host migration ioctls, but if the
> migration ioctl is used, then EPTs are migrated and the memory dumper VM
> can't successfully run a different image from the victim VM. If the
> dumper VM needs to run the same image as the victim VM, then it would be
> a successful migration rather than an attack. (Perhaps we need to clean
> up some #MCs here but that can be a separate patch).

>From a guest security perspective, throw TDX and SNP out the window.  As far as
the design of guest_memfd is concerned, I truly do not care what security properties
they provide, I only care about whether or not KVM's support for TDX and SNP is
clean, robust, and functionally correct.

Note, I'm not saying I don't care about TDX/SNP.  What I'm saying is that I don't
want to design something that is beneficial only to what is currently a very
niche class of VMs that require specific flavors of hardware.

> (b) Malicious host kernel
> A malicious host kernel can allow a malicious host VMM to re-use a HKID
> for the dumper VM, but this isn't something a better gmem design can
> defend against.

Yep, completely out-of-scope.

> (c) Attacks using gmem for software-protected VMs
> Attacks using gmem for software-protected VMs are possible since there
> is no real encryption with HKID/ASID (yet?). The selftest for [1]
> actually uses this lack of encryption to test that the destination VM
> can read the source VM's memory after the migration. In the POC [1], as
> long as both destination VM knows where in the inode's memory to read,
> it can read what it wants to.
Encryption is not required to protect guest memory from less privileged software.
The selftests don't rely on lack of encryption, they rely on KVM incorporating
host userspace into the TCB.

Just because this RFC doesn't remove the VMM from the TCB for SW-protected VMS,
doesn't mean we _can't_ remove the VMM from the TCB.  pKVM has already shown that
such an implementation is possible.  We didn't tackle pKVM-like support in the
initial implementation because it's non-trivial, doesn't yet have a concrete use
case to fund/drive development, and would have significantly delayed support for
the use cases people do actually care about.

There are certainly benefits from memory being encrypted, but it's neither a
requirement nor a panacea, as proven by the never ending stream of speculative
execution attacks.
> This is a problem for software-protected VMs, but I feel that it is also a
> separate issue from gmem's design.

No, I don't want guest_memfd to be just be a vehicle for SNP/TDX VMs.  Having line
of sight to removing host userspace from the TCB is absolutely a must have for me,
and having line of sight to improving KVM's security posture for "regular" VMs is
even more of a must have.  If guest_memfd doesn't provide us a very direct path to
(eventually) achieving those goals, then IMO it's a failure.

Which leads me to:

(d) Buggy components

Today, for all intents and purposes, guest memory *must* be mapped writable in
the VMM, which means it is all too easy for a benign-but-buggy host component to
corrupt guest memory.  There are ways to mitigate potential problems, e.g. by
developing userspace to adhere to the principle of least privilege inasmuch as
possible, but such mitigations would be far less robust than what can be achieved
via guest_memfd, and practically speaking I don't see us (Google, but also KVM in
general) making progress on deprivileging userspace without forcing the issue.

> >> Could binding gmem files not on creation, but at memslot configuration
> >> time be sufficient and simpler?
> >
> > After working through the flows, I think binding on-demand would simplify the
> > refcounting (stating the obvious), but complicate the lifecycle of the memory as
> > well as the contract between KVM and userspace,
> If we are on the same page that the memory should outlive the VM but not
> the bindings, does it still complicate the lifecycle of the memory and
> the userspace/KVM contract? Could it just be a different contract?

Not entirely sure I understand what you're asking.  Does this question go away
with my clarification about struct kvm vs. virtual machine?

> > and would break the separation of
> > concerns between the inode (physical memory / data) and file (VM's view / mappings).
> Binding on-demand is orthogonal to the separation of concerns between
> inode and file, because it can be built regardless of whether we do the
> gmem file/inode split.
> + This flip-the-refcounting POC is built with the file/inode split and
> + In [2] (the delayed binding approach to solve intra-host migration), I
>   also tried flipping the refcounting, and that without the gmem
>   file/inode split. (Refcounting in [2] is buggy because the file can't
>   take a refcount on KVM, but it would work without taking that refcount)
> [1] https://lore.kernel.org/lkml/cover.1691446946.git.ackerleytng@google.com/T/
> [2] https://github.com/googleprodkernel/linux-cc/commit/dd5ac5e53f14a1ef9915c9c1e4cc1006a40b49df

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