How Double-Fetch Situations turn into Double-Fetch Vulnerabilities: A Study of Double Fetches in the Linux Kernel


Pengfei Wang, National University of Defense Technology; Jens Krinke, University College London; Kai Lu and Gen Li, National University of Defense Technology; Steve Dodier-Lazaro, University College London


We present the first static approach that systematically detects potential double-fetch vulnerabilities in the Linux kernel. Using a pattern-based analysis, we identified 90 double fetches in the Linux kernel. 57 of these occur in drivers, which previous dynamic approaches were unable to detect without access to the corresponding hardware. We manually investigated the 90 occurrences, and inferred three typical scenarios in which double fetches occur. We discuss each of them in detail. We further developed a static analysis, based on the Coccinelle matching engine, that detects double-fetch situations which can cause kernel vulnerabilities. When applied to the Linux, FreeBSD, and Android kernels, our approach found six previously unknown double-fetch bugs, four of them in drivers, three of which are exploitable double-fetch vulnerabilities. All of the identified bugs and vulnerabilities have been confirmed and patched by maintainers. Our approach has been adopted by the Coccinelle team and is currently being integrated into the Linux kernel patch vetting. Based on our study, we also provide practical solutions for anticipating double-fetch bugs and vulnerabilities. We also provide a solution to automatically patch detected double-fetch bugs.

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@inproceedings {203874,
author = {Pengfei Wang and Jens Krinke and Kai Lu and Gen Li and Steve Dodier-Lazaro},
title = {How Double-Fetch Situations turn into Double-Fetch Vulnerabilities: A Study of Double Fetches in the Linux Kernel},
booktitle = {26th {USENIX} Security Symposium ({USENIX} Security 17)},
year = {2017},
isbn = {978-1-931971-40-9},
address = {Vancouver, BC},
pages = {1--16},
url = {},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},