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Bug Security Linux IT

Denial-of-Service Attack Found In Btrfs File-System 210

An anonymous reader writes "It's been found that the Btrfs file-system is vulnerable to a Hash-DOS attack, a denial-of-service attack caused by hash collisions within the file-system. Two DOS attack vectors were uncovered by Pascal Junod that he described as causing astonishing and unexpected success. It's hoped that the security vulnerability will be fixed for the next Linux kernel release." The article points out that these exploits require local access.
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Denial-of-Service Attack Found In Btrfs File-System

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 14, 2012 @10:31PM (#42298029)

    Hopefully more people start fuzzing btrfs so it is that much better when it is declared stable.

  • by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Saturday December 15, 2012 @12:08AM (#42298631)

    NTFS doesn't have snapshots. Instead it relies on volume shadow copies, with known severe performance artifacts caused by needing to move snapshotted data out of the way when new writes come in. Btrfs, like ZFS and Netapp's WAFL, use a far more efficient copy-on-write strategy that avoids the write penalty. The takeaway: I would not go so far as to claim Microsoft has an enterprise-worthy solution either. If you want something with industrial strength dedup, snapshots and fault tolerance, you won't be getting it from Micorosft.

    What nonsense. VSS is the snapshot solution for NTFS, and of course it uses copy-on-write. Microsoft VSS backup architecture is years ahead of Linux... LVM is kind of cool but if you have a single database spread across multiple LV's then you can't snapshot them all as an atomic operation so it becomes useless. MS VSS does this, and always has.

    I'm normally a Linux fanboi but when you sprout rubbish like this I have no hesitation in correcting you.

  • by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Saturday December 15, 2012 @04:04AM (#42299661)

    VSS is the snapshot solution for NTFS, and of course it uses copy-on-write

    Well. Maybe you better sit down in a comfortable chair and think about this a bit. From Microsoft's site: When a change to the original volume occurs, but before it is written to disk, the block about to be modified is read and then written to a “differences area”, which preserves a copy of the data block before it is overwritten with the change. [microsoft.com]

    Think about what this means. It is not a "copy-on-write", it is a "copy-before-write". Gross abuse of terminology if anybody tries to call it a "copy-on-write", which has the very specific meaning [wikipedia.org] of "don't modify the destination data". Instead, copy it, then modify the copy. OK, are we clear? VSS does not do copy-on-write, it does copy-before-write.

    Now let's think about the implications of that. First, the write needs to be blocked until the copy-before-write completes, otherwise the copied data is not sure to be on stable storage. The copy-before-write needs to read the data from its original position, write it to some save area, then update some metadata to remember which data was saved where. How many disk seeks is that, if it's a spinning disk? If the save area is on the same spinning disk? If it's flash, how much write multiplication is that? When all of that is finally done, the original write can be unblocked and allowed to proceed. In total, how much slower is that than a simple, linear write? If you said "on the order of an order of magnitude" you would be in the ballpark. In face, it can get way worse than that if you are unlucky. In the best imaginable case, your write performance is going to take a hit by a factor of three. Usually, much much worse.

    OK, did we get this straight? As a final exercise, see if you can figure out who was talking nonsense.

    I concede that the terminology used by the MS article is misused. I don't think you're thinking the performance issues through though. You start with a file nicely laid out linearly on disk, and you take a snapshot so you can make a backup. Now you make a modification to the middle of the file and what happens? Suddenly the middle of the file is elsewhere on disk, and in the case of LVM this is invisible to the filesystem so no amount of defragging is going to fix it. This situation persists long after you have taken your backup and thrown the snapshot away. Of course this doesn't matter for flash but we're not all there yet. If BTRFS does snapshots using copy-on-write (correct definition) then this will be a problem too, although if BTRFS is smart enough it should be able to repair the situation once the snapshot is discarded.

    VSS's way leaves the original data in-order on the storage medium. The difference area is likely on a completely different disk anyway so the copy-on-write (MS definition) could not be performed any other way.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 15, 2012 @10:41AM (#42301097)
    Editors please! I normally expect even a submitter to know the difference between an attack and a vulnerability. However the editor damn well better know the difference. When I read that an ATTACK had been found in btrfs I went to read about how some malicious code had been placed into the code for btrfs. Maybe this code modified data, erases stuff, sends data to China, or just renames files. But no, this was a simple vulnerability. They didn't find an attack in btrfs, they found the potential for an attack - which is called a vulnerability. Let's at least make an effort here.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.