Dear Qubes Community,

We have just published Qubes Security Bulletin (QSB) #36: Xen hypervisor issue in populate-on-demand code (XSA-247). The text of this QSB is reproduced below. This QSB and its accompanying signatures will always be available in the Qubes Security Pack (qubes-secpack).

View QSB #36 in the qubes-secpack:

Learn about the qubes-secpack, including how to obtain, verify, and read it:

View all past QSBs:

View XSA-247 in the XSA Tracker:

             ---===[ Qubes Security Bulletin #36 ]===---

                          November 28, 2017

      Xen hypervisor issue in populate-on-demand code (XSA-247)


The Xen Security Team has published Xen Security Advisory 247, which
concerns an issue with the populate-on-demand mechanism used to overbook
memory. We believe it would be very difficult, in practice, to exploit
this issue for privilege escalation.

Additionally, the Xen Security Team has published Xen Security
Advisory 246 (x86: infinite loop due to missing PoD error checking),
with the impact being denial of service only.

Technical details

Xen Security Advisory 247 [1]:

| Certain actions require modification of entries in a guest's P2M
| (Physical-to-Machine) table.  When large pages are in use for this
| table, such an operation may incur a memory allocation (to replace a
| large mapping with individual smaller ones).  If this allocation
| fails, the p2m_set_entry() function will return an error.
| Unfortunately, several places in the populate-on-demand code don't
| check the return value of p2m_set_entry() to see if it succeeded.
| In some cases, the operation was meant to remove an entry from the p2m
| table.  If this removal fails, a malicious guest may engineer that the
| page be returned to the Xen free list, making it available to be
| allocated to another domain, while it retains a writable mapping to
| the page.
| In other cases, the operation was meant to remove special
| populate-on-demand entries; if this removal fails, the internal
| accounting becomes inconsistent and may eventually hit a BUG().
| The allocation involved comes from a separate pool of memory created
| when the domain is created; under normal operating conditions it never
| fails, but a malicious guest may be able to engineer situations where
| this pool is exhausted.
| An unprivileged guest can retain a writable mapping of freed memory.
| Depending on how this page is used, it could result in either an
| information leak, or full privilege escalation.
| Alternatively, an unprivileged guest can cause Xen to hit a BUG(),
| causing a clean crash - ie, host-wide denial-of-service (DoS).

Xen Security Advisory 246 [2]:

| Failure to recognize errors being returned from low level functions in
| Populate on Demand (PoD) code may result in higher level code entering
| an infinite loop.
| A malicious HVM guest can cause one pcpu to permanently hang.  This
| normally cascades into the whole system freezing, resulting in a a
| host Denial of Service (DoS).

Compromise Recovery

Beginning with Qubes 3.2, we offer Paranoid Backup Restore Mode, which
was designed specifically to aid in the recovery of a potentially
compromised Qubes OS system. If you believe your system may be
compromised (perhaps because of the issue discussed in this bulletin),
please read and follow the procedure described here:


The specific packages that resolve the problem discussed in this
bulletin are as follows:

  For Qubes 3.2:
  - Xen packages, version 4.6.6-35

  For Qubes 4.0:
  - Xen packages, version 4.8.2-11

The packages are to be installed in dom0 via the Qubes VM Manager or via
the qubes-dom0-update command as follows:

  For updates from the stable repository (not immediately available):
  $ sudo qubes-dom0-update

  For updates from the security-testing repository:
  $ sudo qubes-dom0-update --enablerepo=qubes-dom0-security-testing

A system restart will be required afterwards.

These packages will migrate from the security-testing repository to the
current (stable) repository over the next two weeks after being tested
by the community.

If you use Anti Evil Maid, you will need to reseal your secret
passphrase to new PCR values, as PCR18+19 will change due to the new
Xen binaries.


See the original Xen Security Advisory.



The Qubes Security Team