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[[!meta title="Hardening pkgsrc"]]

A number of mechanisms are available in
[pkgsrc](https://www.pkgsrc.org/) to improve the security of the
resulting system. This page describes the mechanisms, and gives hints
about detecting and fixing problems.

# Mechanisms

Mechanisms can be enabled individually in `mk.conf`, and are
individually described below. They are sorted by whether they are
enabled by default, and then by their ordering in `mk/defaults/mk.conf`.

Typically, a feature will cause some programs to fail to build or work
when first enabled. This can be due to latent problems in the
program, and can be due to other reasons. After enough testing to
have confidence that user problems will be quite rare, individual
mechanisms will be enabled by default.

For each mechanism, see the Caveats section below for an explanation
of what might go wrong at compile time and at run time, and how to
notice and address these problems.

## Enabled by default

### PKGSRC_USE_FORTIFY

This allows substitute wrappers to be used for some commonly used
library functions that do not have built-in bounds checking - but
could in some cases.

**TODO**: Explain FORTIFY_SOURCE 1 vs 2, and which is used. Give a link
to a good explanation of the technique. Explain if this is gcc specific.

It has been enabled by default since pkgsrc-2017Q3.

### PKGSRC_USE_SSP

This enables a stack-smashing protection mitigation. It is done by adding a
guard variable to functions with vulnerable objects. The guards are initialized
when a function is entered and then checked when the function exits. The guard
check will fail and the program forcibly exited if the variable was modified in
the meantime. This can happen in case of buffer overflows or memory corruption,
and therefore exposing these bugs.

Different mitigation levels are available:

* the default ("yes"), which will only protect functions considered vulnerable
  by the compiler;
* "all", which will protect every function;
* "strong", which will apply a better balance between the two settings above.

This mitigation is supported by both GCC and clang. It may be supported in
additional compilers, possibly under a different name. It is particularly useful
for unsafe programming languages, such as C/C++.

It is enabled by default where known supported since pkgsrc-2017Q3.

More details can be found here:

* <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffer_overflow_protection>

## Not enabled by default

### PKGSRC_MKPIE

This requests the creation of PIE (Position Independent Executables) for all
executables. The PIE mechanism is normally used for shared libraries, so that
they can be loaded at differing addresses at runtime. PIE itself does not have
useful security properties; however, it is necessary to fully leverage some,
such as ASLR.  Some operating systems support Address Space Layout Randomization
(ASLR), which causes different addresses to be used each time a program is run.
This makes it more difficult for an attacker to guess addresses and thus makes
exploits harder to construct. With PIE, ASLR can really be applied to the entire
program, instead of the stack and heap only.

PIE executables will only be built for toolchains that are known to support PIE.
Currently, this means NetBSD on amd64 and i386.

### PKGSRC_MKREPRO

With this option, pkgsrc will try to build packages reproducibly. This allows
packages built from the same tree and with the same options, to produce
identical results bit by bit. This option should be combined with ASLR and
`PKGSRC_MKPIE` to avoid predictable address offsets for attackers attempting to
exploit security vulnerabilities.

More details can be found here:

* <https://reproducible-builds.org/>

### PKGSRC_USE_RELRO

This also makes the exploitation of some security vulnerabilities more
difficult in some cases.

Two different mitigation levels are available:

* partial: the ELF sections are reordered so that internal data sections
  precede the program's own data sections, and non-PLT GOT is read-only;
* full: in addition to partial RELRO, every relocation is performed immediately
  when starting the program (with a slight performance impact), allowing the
  entire GOT to be read-only.

This is currently supported by GCC. Many software distributions now enable this
feature by default, at the "partial" level.

More details can be found here:

* <http://tk-blog.blogspot.co.at/2009/02/relro-not-so-well-known-memory.html>

### PKGSRC_USE_STACK_CHECK

This uses `-fstack-check` with GCC for another stack protection mitigation.

It asks the compiler to generate code verifying that it does not corrupt the
stack. According to GCC's manual page, this is really only useful for
multi-threaded programs.

# Caveats

## Problems with `PKGSRC_MKPIE`

### Recent support for cwrappers

`PKGSRC_MKPIE` is only supported by `pkgtools/cwrappers` from the 2017Q3
release on (`USE_CWRAPPERS` in `mk.conf`).

### Packages failing to build

A number of packages may fail to build with this option enabled. The failures
are often related to the absence of the `-fPIC` compilation flag when building
libraries or executables (or ideally `-fPIE` in the latter case). This flag is
added to the `CFLAGS` already, but requires the package to actually support it.

#### How to fix

These instructions are meant as a reference only; they likely need to be adapted
for many packages individually.

For packages using `Makefiles`:

    MAKE_FLAGS+=	CFLAGS=${CFLAGS:Q}
    MAKE_FLAGS+=	LDFLAGS=${LDFLAGS:Q}

For packages using `Imakefiles`:

    MAKE_FLAGS+=	CCOPTIONS=${CFLAGS:Q}
    MAKE_FLAGS+=	LOCAL_LDFLAGS=${LDFLAGS:Q}

### Run-time crashes

Some programs may fail to run, or crash at random times once built as PIE. Two
scenarios are essentially possible:

* actual bug in the program crashing, exposed thanks to ASLR/mprotect;
* bug in the implementation of ASLR/mprotect in the Operating System.

## Problems with `PKGSRC_USE_FORTIFY`

### Packages failing to build

This feature makes use of pre-processing directives to look for hardened,
alternative implementations of essential library calls. Some programs may fail
to build as a result; this usually happens for those trying too hard to be
portable, or otherwise abusing definitions in the standard library.

This will require a modification to the program, or disabling this feature
by adding in the package `Makefile`:

    FORTIFY_SUPPORTED=	no

### Run-time crashes

Just like with `PKGSRC_MKPIE` above, this feature may cause some programs to
crash, usually indicating an actual bug in the program. The fix will typically
involve patching the original program.

### Optimization is required

At least in the case of GCC, FORTIFY will only be applied if optimization is
applied while compiling. This means that the CFLAGS should also contain -O, -O2
or another optimization level. This cannot easily be applied globally, as some
packages may require specific optimization levels.

## Problems with `PKGSRC_USE_RELRO`

### Performance impact

For better protection, full RELRO requires every symbol to be resolved when the
program starts, rather than simply when required at run-time. This will have
more impact on programs using a lot of symbols, or linked to libraries exposing
a lot of symbols. Therefore, daemons or programs otherwise running in
background are affected only when started. Programs loading plug-ins at
run-time are affected when loading the plug-ins.

The impact is not expected to be noticeable on modern hardware, except in some
cases for big programs.

### Run-time crashes

Some programs handle plug-ins and dependencies in a way that conflicts with
RELRO: for instance, with an initialization routine listing any other plug-in
required. With full RELRO, the missing symbols are resolved before the
initialization routine can run, and the dynamic loader will not be able to find
them directly and abort as a result. Unfortunately, this is how Xorg loads its
drivers. Partial RELRO can be applied instead in this case.

## Problems with `PKGSRC_USE_SSP`

### Packages failing to build

The stack-smashing protection provided by this option does not work for some
programs. The two most common situations in which this happens are:

* the program makes use of the `alloca(3)` library call (memory allocator on the
  stack) (**TODO**: at least regarding build failure, this was a problem only
  with older gcc version and probably do not apply in most common pkgsrc setup
  (i.e. no PR/mails about that seen in the last years about that.))
* the program allocates variables on the stack, with the size determined at
  run-time.

Both cases will require a modification to the program, or disabling this feature
by adding in the package `Makefile`:

    SSP_SUPPORTED=	no

### Run-time crashes

Again, this feature may cause some programs to crash via a SIGABRT,
usually indicating an actual bug in the program.

On NetBSD `LOG_CRIT` level `syslog()` messages are sent and - by
default - appended to `/var/log/messages`, e.g.:

    Jan  6 15:42:51 <hostname> -: <hostname> <program> - - - buffer overflow detected; terminated

(where `<hostname>` is the `hostname(1)` and `<program>` is the
`basename(1)` of the program crashed).

Patching the original program is then required.

Rebuilding the package via:

    % env CFLAGS=-g INSTALL_UNSTRIPPED=yes make replace

and inspecting the `backtrace` of the coredump via the debugger
should point out the problematic call by inspecting the frame
calling the `_chk()' (SSP) function.

### Performance impact

The compiler emits extra code when using this feature: a check for buffer
overflows is performed when entering and exiting functions, requiring an extra
variable on the stack. The level of protection can otherwise be adjusted to
affect only those functions considered more sensitive by the compiler (with
`-fstack-protector` instead of `-fstack-protector-all`).

The impact is not expected to be noticeable on modern hardware. However,
programs with a hard requirement to run at the fastest possible speed should
avoid using this feature, or using libraries built with this feature.

# Auditing the system

The illusion of security is worse than having no security at all. This section
lists a number of ways to ensure the security features requested are actually
effective.

_These instructions were obtained and tested on a system derived from NetBSD 7
(amd64). YMMV._

## Checking for PIE

The ELF executable type in use changes for binaries built as PIE; without:

    $ file /path/to/bin/ary
    /path/to/bin/ary: ELF 64-bit LSB executable, x86-64, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), for NetBSD 7.0, not stripped

as opposed to the following binary, built as PIE:

    $ file /path/to/pie/bin/ary
    /path/to/pie/bin/ary: ELF 64-bit LSB shared object, x86-64, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), for NetBSD 7.0, not stripped

The latter result is then what is expected.

## Checking for partial RELRO

The following command should list a section called `RELRO`:

    $ objdump -p /path/to/bin/ary

    /path/to/bin/ary:     file format elf64-x86-64

    Program Header:
    [...]
       RELRO off    0x0000000000000d78 vaddr 0x0000000000600d78 paddr 0x0000000000600d78 align 2**0

This check is now performed automatically if `PKG_DEVELOPER` is set and `RELRO`
is enabled.

## Checking for full RELRO

The dynamic loader will apply RELRO immediately when detecting the presence of
the `BIND_NOW` flag:

    $ objdump -x /path/to/bin/ary

    /path/to/bin/ary:     file format elf64-x86-64

    Dynamic Section:
    [...]
      BIND_NOW             0x0000000000000000

This has to be combined with partial RELRO (see above) to be fully efficient.

## Checking for SSP

Building objects, binaries and libraries with SSP will affect the presence of
additional symbols in the resulting file:

    $ nm /path/to/bin/ary
    [...]
                     U __stack_chk_fail
    0000000000600ea0 B __stack_chk_guard

This is an indicator that the program was indeed built with support for SSP.

This check is now performed automatically (where supported) if `PKG_DEVELOPER`
is set and `SSP` is enabled.

If it is needed to disable SSP check per-package, please add in the package
`Makefile`:

    CHECK_SSP_SUPPORTED=	no

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