Talk at Xen Developer Summit 2013

UPDATE: Here’s the link: I still haven’t been able to bring myself to actually watch it but I’m sure it’s great :

Just got back from the 2013 Xen Developer Summit where I gave a talk on a few interesting (to me at least) things. If you’re interested you can find my abstract here. My focus was naturally on SELinux / XSM stuff. Mostly my talk focused on the sVirt implementation in XenClient XT and another fun application of the architecture to our management stuff.

Had good chat with a guy from Amazon afterward about all of the other evil stuff someone could do if they compromised QEMU. So while sVirt prevents the specific scenario presented I’ve no doubt there are other hazards. He was specifically concerned over the Xen privcmd driver & the hypercalls it could make. Hard to disagree as QEMU with root permissions in dom0 can execute any hypercall it wants. The only way to address this (other than stubdoms) is to deprivilege QEMU to prevent it from making hypercalls. That would probably require some code-changes in QEMU so it’s no small task.

I also touched briefly on the design for an inter-VM communication (IVC) mechanism that was floated to xen-devel this summer. In XT we have an IVC called ‘V4V’ that isn’t acceptable to upstream. When it came to our XSM policy however V4V had some favorable properties in that we created a new object in the hypervisor that was a ‘first-class’ object in the policy.

The proposal uses the same model as the front/back drivers so there would be no new object specific to the IVC. This means there wouldn’t be way to differentiate the IVC from any other front/back driver. The purpose of the talk was to point this out and hopefully solicit some discussion. Got an even better conversation going on this point so hopefully I’ll have some fun stuff to report on this front soon.

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