Vulnerabilities > CVE-2023-52452 - Improper Initialization vulnerability in Linux Kernel

Attack vector
Attack complexity
Privileges required
Confidentiality impact
Integrity impact
Availability impact
low complexity


In the Linux kernel, the following vulnerability has been resolved: bpf: Fix accesses to uninit stack slots Privileged programs are supposed to be able to read uninitialized stack memory (ever since 6715df8d5) but, before this patch, these accesses were permitted inconsistently. In particular, accesses were permitted above state->allocated_stack, but not below it. In other words, if the stack was already "large enough", the access was permitted, but otherwise the access was rejected instead of being allowed to "grow the stack". This undesired rejection was happening in two places: - in check_stack_slot_within_bounds() - in check_stack_range_initialized() This patch arranges for these accesses to be permitted. A bunch of tests that were relying on the old rejection had to change; all of them were changed to add also run unprivileged, in which case the old behavior persists. One tests couldn't be updated - global_func16 - because it can't run unprivileged for other reasons. This patch also fixes the tracking of the stack size for variable-offset reads. This second fix is bundled in the same commit as the first one because they're inter-related. Before this patch, writes to the stack using registers containing a variable offset (as opposed to registers with fixed, known values) were not properly contributing to the function's needed stack size. As a result, it was possible for a program to verify, but then to attempt to read out-of-bounds data at runtime because a too small stack had been allocated for it. Each function tracks the size of the stack it needs in bpf_subprog_info.stack_depth, which is maintained by update_stack_depth(). For regular memory accesses, check_mem_access() was calling update_state_depth() but it was passing in only the fixed part of the offset register, ignoring the variable offset. This was incorrect; the minimum possible value of that register should be used instead. This tracking is now fixed by centralizing the tracking of stack size in grow_stack_state(), and by lifting the calls to grow_stack_state() to check_stack_access_within_bounds() as suggested by Andrii. The code is now simpler and more convincingly tracks the correct maximum stack size. check_stack_range_initialized() can now rely on enough stack having been allocated for the access; this helps with the fix for the first issue. A few tests were changed to also check the stack depth computation. The one that fails without this patch is verifier_var_off:stack_write_priv_vs_unpriv.

Vulnerable Configurations

Part Description Count

Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE)

Common Attack Pattern Enumeration and Classification (CAPEC)

  • Leveraging Race Conditions
    This attack targets a race condition occurring when multiple processes access and manipulate the same resource concurrently and the outcome of the execution depends on the particular order in which the access takes place. The attacker can leverage a race condition by "running the race", modifying the resource and modifying the normal execution flow. For instance a race condition can occur while accessing a file, the attacker can trick the system by replacing the original file with his version and cause the system to read the malicious file.
  • Leveraging Time-of-Check and Time-of-Use (TOCTOU) Race Conditions
    This attack targets a race condition occurring between the time of check (state) for a resource and the time of use of a resource. The typical example is the file access. The attacker can leverage a file access race condition by "running the race", meaning that he would modify the resource between the first time the target program accesses the file and the time the target program uses the file. During that period of time, the attacker could do something such as replace the file and cause an escalation of privilege.