The Kernel Self-Protection Project Aims to Make Linux More Secure


The complexity of the Linux kernel means that it is likely to carry legacy ballast and bugs for an indefinite period of time. At the end of 2010 [4], Jonathan Corbet checked how long the safety-relevant bugs eliminated in that year had existed until discovered: 22 of the 80 loopholes examined had been in the code for more than five years!

Practical experience leads to an approach that simultaneously makes attacks more difficult and reduces the consequences of exploitable code weaknesses. This two-pronged approach is the goal of the Kernel Self-Protection [5] project.

Break-In Technology for Everyone

Viewed through the looking glass with sufficient hindsight, most attacks on programs work in a similar way. An attacker tries to add new program code to a running process, which the hijacked process then executes with its privileges. The added code can be SQL or shell commands, or typically, binary code in kernel attacks. In order to inject this code, attackers exploit programming errors that allow them to determine memory contents and manipulate the program counter.

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