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[Xen-devel] Should PV frontend drivers trust the backends?

  • To: xen-devel <xen-devel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • From: Juergen Gross <jgross@xxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2018 14:42:38 +0200
  • Delivery-date: Wed, 25 Apr 2018 12:43:11 +0000
  • List-id: Xen developer discussion <xen-devel.lists.xenproject.org>

This is a followup of a discussion on IRC:

The main question of the discussion was: "Should frontend drivers
trust their backends not doing malicious actions?"

This IMO includes:

1. The data put by the backend on the ring page(s) is sane and
   consistent, meaning that e.g. the response producer index is always
   ahead of the consumer index.

2. Response data won't be modified by the backend after the producer
   index has been incremented signaling the response is valid.

3. Response data is sane, e.g. an I/O data length is not larger than
   the buffer originally was.

4. When a response has been sent all grants belonging to the request
   have been unmapped again by the backend, meaning that the frontend
   can assume the grants can be removed without conflict.

Today most frontend drivers (at least in the Linux kernel) seem to
assume all of the above is true (there are some exceptions, but never
for all items):

- they don't check sanity of ring index values
- they don't copy response data into local memory before looking at it
- they don't verify returned data length (or do so via BUG_ON())
- they BUG() in case of a conflict when trying to remove a grant

So the basic question is: should all Linux frontend drivers be modified
in order to be able to tolerate buggy or malicious backends? Or is the
list of trust above fine?

IMO even in case the frontends do trust the backends to behave sane this
doesn't mean driver domains don't make sense. Driver domains still make
a Xen host more robust as they e.g. protect the host against driver
failures normally leading to a crash of dom0.


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