Security Enhanced Test-AutoBuild

Posted: July 2nd, 2007 | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

In the latter half of last year I was mulling over the idea of writing SELinux policy for Test-AutoBuild. I played around a little bit, but never got the time to really make a serious attempt at it. Before I go on, a brief re-cap on the motivation…

Test-AutoBuild is a framework for providing continous, unattended, automated software builds. Each run of the build engine checks the latest source out from CVS, calculates a build order based on module dependancies, builds each modules, and the publishes the results. The build engine typically runs under a dedicated system user account – builder – to avoid any risk of the module build process compromising a host (either accidentally, or delibrately). This works reasonably well if you are only protecting against accidental damage from a module build – eg building apps maintained inside your organization. If building code from source repositories out on the internet though there is a real risk of delibrately hostile module build processes. A module may be trojaned so that its build process attempts to scan your internal network, or it may trash the state files of the build engine itself – both the engine & the module being built are under the same user account. There is also the risk that the remote source control server has been trojaned to try and exploit flaws in the client.

And so enter SELinux… The build engine is highly modular in structure, with different tasks in the build workflow being pretty well isolated. So the theory was that it ought to be possible to write SELinux policy to guarentee separation of the build engine, from the SCM tools doing source code checkout, from the module build processes, and other commands being run. As an example, within a build root there a handful of core directories

 +- source-root   - dir in which module source is checked out
 +- package-root  - dir in which RPMs/Debs & other packages are generated
 +- install-root  - virtual root dir for installing files in 'make install'
 +- build-archive - archive of previous successful module builds
 +- log-root      - dir for creating log files of build process
 +- public_html   - dir in which results are published

All these dirs are owned by the builder user account. The build engine itself provides all the adminsitrative tasks for the build workflow, so generally requires full access to all of these directories. The SCM tools, however, merely need to be able to check out files into the source-root and create logs in the log-root. The module build process needs to be able to read/write in the source-root, package-root and install-root, as well as creating logs in the log-root. So, given suitable SELinux policy it ought to be possible to lock down the access of the SCM tools and build process quite significantly.

Now aside from writing the policy there are a couple of other small issues. The primary one is that the build engine has to run in a confined SELinux context, and has to be able to run SCM tools and build processes in a different context. For the former, I choose to create a ‘auto-build-secure’ command to augment the ‘auto-build’ command. This allows user to easily run the build process in SELinux enforced, or traditional unconfined modes. In the latter cases, most SELinux policy has automated process context transitions based on the binary file labels. This isn’t soo useful for autobuild though, because the script we’re running is being checked out direct from a SCM repo & thus not labelled. The solution for this is easily though – after fork()ing, but before exec()ing the SCM tools / build script we simply write the desired target context into /proc/self/attr/exec.

So with a couple of tiny modifications to the build engine, and many hours of writing suitable policy for Test-AutoBuild, its now possible to run the build engine under a strictly confined policy. There is one horrible troublespot though. Every application has its own build process & set of operations is wishes to perform. Writing a policy which confines the build process as much as possible, while still keeping it secure is very hard indeed. In fact it is effectively unsolveable in the general case.

So what to do ? SELinux booleans provide a way to toggle on/off various capabilities system wide. If building multiple applications though, it may be desirable to run some under a more confined policy than others – booleans are system wide. The solution I think is to define a set of perhaps 4 or 5 different execution contexts with differing levels of privileges. As an example, some contexts may allow outgoing network access, while others may deny all network activity. So the build admin can use the most restrictive policy by default, and a less restrictive policy for applications which are more trusted.

This weekend was just the start of experimentation with SELinux policy in regards to Test-AutoBuild, but it was more far, far successful than I ever expected it to be. The level of control afforded by SELinux is awesome, and with the flexibility of modifying the application itself too, the possibilities for fine grained access control are enourmous. One idea I’d like to investigate is whether it is possible to define new SELinux execution contexts on-the-fly. eg, instead of all application sources being checked out under a single ‘absource_t’ file context, it would be desirable to create a new source file context per-applicaiton. I’m not sure whether SELinux supports this idea, but it is interesting to push the boundaries here nonetheless…

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