DirtyCOW: ptrace strikes again!
Actually, it’s not ptrace’s fault—but having ptrace disabled would mitigate the current proof of concept attacks, and possibly future attacks as well. Linus Torvalds recently fixed a get_dirty_pages race which could be used to escalate to root privileges on all kernels prior to October 13, 2016. This was not pushed into the stable kernels until October 23rd. Today, October 26th, Redhat and other vendors have started propagating these patches in downstream packages. Notably, as of this writing there is no fix for the RHEL/CentOS/Scientific Linux 5.x release, however there is a mitigation available on Redhat’s Bugzilla tracker here:
Easy Fix (mitigate) for DirtyCOW CVE-2016-5195 Root Escalation
While the Bugzilla patch above explains what needs to be done, the process is not necessarily straight-forward. This script automates the process for EL5 and derivatives, and it should work more or less on EL6, but only if your devel packages are available for your current kernel. If not, then `yum install kernel` and reboot before running this script; In the EL6 case, there is no need to run this script after a kernel update as long as you are running the latest version noted below.
As noted on the Bugzilla link, “… note that this mitigation disables ptrace functionality which debuggers and programs that inspect other processes (virus scanners) use and thus these programs won’t be operational.”
You can run the script like so:
bash <(wget -qO - https://www.linuxglobal.com/static/blog/harden-dirtycow.sh)
Of course you probably want to review the script before running it, so click here to view:
What is Your Exposure?
You’re only vulnerable to this if a user can execute binaries that they introduce on your server. They might install this binary by compiling it onsite (but you remove gcc, right?), or by uploading a pre-compiled binary. Fortunately this means that environments who trust their users or who have no local users are safe. The bigger problem is with shared hosting environments such as those provided by WHM/cPanel/Plesk/Webmin and others.
These are the summary versions of kernels that contain the DirtyCOW fix:
RHEL/CentOS/Scientific Linux 6.x: 2.6.32-642.6.2
RHEL/CentOS/Scientific Linux 7.x: 3.10.0-327.36.3
Ubuntu 12.04: 3.2.0-113.155
Ubuntu 14.04: 3.13.0-100.147
Ubuntu 16.04: 4.4.0-45.66
Ubuntu 16.10: 4.8.0-26.28
Debian 7: 3.2.82-1
Debian 8: 3.16.36-1+deb8u2
Vanilla kernel longterm releases (or newer) that contain the DirtyCOW fix:
This is not the first root escalation that has been leveraged by ptrace functionality, as you can see with a quick search for “ptrace root escalation”. I recommend that you turn off ptrace unless you are certain that you need it. Unfortunately the best way to do this is to re-compile your kernel and exclude ptrace support, but that is not always viable. If you’re running EL7 with SELinux enforcing (Check with `getenforce` which should print “Enforcing”), you can simply run this: `setsebool -P deny_ptrace on`.
You can also compile kernel modules such as the systemtap interface used above for the EL5 patch, but of course that requires a rebuild with gcc installed every time you update your kernel. It would be great if there was something in /sys or /proc that could globally disable the sys_ptrace_enter system call, but for the moment that is not an option.