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Policy registration
Extensible security label for kernel objects
Policy entry point composition operators
Label management primitives
Entry point API invoked by kernel services
Entry point API to policy modules
Entry points implementations (policy life cycle, object life cycle/label management, access control checks).
Policy-agnostic label-management system calls
<function>mac_syscall()</function> multiplex system call
Various security policies implemented as MAC policy modules
Framework Management Interfaces
The TrustedBSD MAC Framework may be directly managed using sysctl's, loader tunables, and system calls.
In most cases, sysctl's and loader tunables of the same name modify the same parameters, and control behavior such as enforcement of protections relating to various kernel subsystems. In addition, if MAC debugging support is compiled into the kernel, several counters will be maintained tracking label allocation. It is generally advisable that per-subsystem enforcement controls not be used to control policy behavior in production environments, as they broadly impact the operation of all active policies. Instead, per-policy controls should be preferred, as they provide greater granularity and greater operational consistency for policy modules.
Loading and unloading of policy modules is performed using the system module management system calls and other system interfaces, including boot loader variables; policy modules will have the opportunity to influence load and unload events, including preventing undesired unloading of the policy.
Policy List Concurrency and Synchronization
As the set of active policies may change at run-time, and the invocation of entry points is non-atomic, synchronization is required to prevent loading or unloading of policies while an entry point invocation is in progress, freezing the set of active policies for the duration. This is accomplished by means of a framework busy count: whenever an entry point is entered, the busy count is incremented; whenever it is exited, the busy count is decremented. While the busy count is elevated, policy list changes are not permitted, and threads attempting to modify the policy list will sleep until the list is not busy. The busy count is protected by a mutex, and a condition variable is used to wake up sleepers waiting on policy list modifications. One side effect of this synchronization model is that recursion into the MAC Framework from within a policy module is permitted, although not generally used.
Various optimizations are used to reduce the overhead of the busy count, including avoiding the full cost of incrementing and decrementing if the list is empty or contains only static entries (policies that are loaded before the system starts, and cannot be unloaded). A compile-time option is also provided which prevents any change in the set of loaded policies at run-time, which eliminates the mutex locking costs associated with supporting dynamically loaded and unloaded policies as synchronization is no longer required.
As the MAC Framework is not permitted to block in some entry points, a normal sleep lock cannot be used; as a result, it is possible for the load or unload attempt to block for a substantial period of time waiting for the framework to become idle.
Label Synchronization
As kernel objects of interest may generally be accessed from more than one thread at a time, and simultaneous entry of more than one thread into the MAC Framework is permitted, security attribute storage maintained by the MAC Framework is carefully synchronized. In general, existing kernel synchronization on kernel object data is used to protect MAC Framework security labels on the object: for example, MAC labels on sockets are protected using the existing socket mutex. Likewise, semantics for concurrent access are generally identical to those of the container objects: for credentials, copy-on-write semantics are maintained for label contents as with the remainder of the credential structure. The MAC Framework asserts necessary locks on objects when invoked with an object reference. Policy authors must be aware of these synchronization semantics, as they will sometimes limit the types of accesses permitted on labels: for example, when a read-only reference to a credential is passed to a policy via an entry point, only read operations are permitted on the label state attached to the credential.
Policy Synchronization and Concurrency
Policy modules must be written to assume that many kernel threads may simultaneously enter one more policy entry points due to the parallel and preemptive nature of the FreeBSD kernel. If the policy module makes use of mutable state, this may require the use of synchronization primitives within the policy to prevent inconsistent views on that state resulting in incorrect operation of the policy. Policies will generally be able to make use of existing FreeBSD synchronization primitives for this purpose, including mutexes, sleep locks, condition variables, and counting semaphores. However, policies should be written to employ these primitives carefully, respecting existing kernel lock orders, and recognizing that some entry points are not permitted to sleep, limiting the use of primitives in those entry points to mutexes and wakeup operations.
When policy modules call out to other kernel subsystems, they will generally need to release any in-policy locks in order to avoid violating the kernel lock order or risking lock recursion. This will maintain policy locks as leaf locks in the global lock order, helping to avoid deadlock.
Policy Registration
The MAC Framework maintains two lists of active policies: a static list, and a dynamic list. The lists differ only with regards to their locking semantics: an elevated reference count is not required to make use of the static list. When kernel modules containing MAC Framework policies are loaded, the policy module will use <literal>SYSINIT</literal> to invoke a registration function; when a policy module is unloaded, <literal>SYSINIT</literal> will likewise invoke a de-registration function. Registration may fail if a policy module is loaded more than once, if insufficient resources are available for the registration (for example, the policy might require labeling and insufficient labeling state might be available), or other policy prerequisites might not be met (some policies may only be loaded prior to boot). Likewise, de-registration may fail if a policy is flagged as not unloadable.
Entry Points
Kernel services interact with the MAC Framework in two ways: they invoke a series of APIs to notify the framework of relevant events, and they provide a policy-agnostic label structure pointer in security-relevant objects. The label pointer is maintained by the MAC Framework via label management entry points, and permits the Framework to offer a labeling service to policy modules through relatively non-invasive changes to the kernel subsystem maintaining the object. For example, label pointers have been added to processes, process credentials, sockets, pipes, vnodes, Mbufs, network interfaces, IP reassembly queues, and a variety of other security-relevant structures. Kernel services also invoke the MAC Framework when they perform important security decisions, permitting policy modules to augment those decisions based on their own criteria (possibly including data stored in security labels). Most of these security critical decisions will be explicit access control checks; however, some affect more general decision functions such as packet matching for sockets and label transition at program execution.
Policy Composition
When more than one policy module is loaded into the kernel at a time, the results of the policy modules will be composed by the framework using a composition operator. This operator is currently hard-coded, and requires that all active policies must approve a request for it to return success. As policies may return a variety of error conditions (success, access denied, object does not exist, ...), a precedence operator selects the resulting error from the set of errors returned by policies. In general, errors indicating that an object does not exist will be preferred to errors indicating that access to an object is denied. While it is not guaranteed that the resulting composition will be useful or secure, we have found that it is for many useful selections of policies. For example, traditional trusted systems often ship with two or more policies using a similar composition.
Labeling Support
As many interesting access control extensions rely on security labels on objects, the MAC Framework provides a set of policy-agnostic label management system calls covering a variety of user-exposed objects. Common label types include partition identifiers, sensitivity labels, integrity labels, compartments, domains, roles, and types. By policy agnostic, we mean that policy modules are able to completely define the semantics of meta-data associated with an object. Policy modules participate in the internalization and externalization of string-based labels provides by user applications, and can expose multiple label elements to applications if desired.


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Source string comment
(itstool) path: sect2/para
Source string location
String age
a year ago
Source string age
a year ago
Translation file
books/arch-handbook.pot, string 598