OpenBSD Will Get Unique Kernels On Each Reboot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bleeping Computer: A new feature added in test snapshots for the upcoming OpenBSD 6.2 release will create a unique kernel every time an OpenBSD user reboots or upgrades his computer. This feature is named KARL — Kernel Address Randomized Link — and works by relinking internal kernel files in a random order so that it generates a unique kernel binary blob every time. Currently, for stable releases, the OpenBSD kernel uses a predefined order to link and load internal files inside the kernel binary, resulting in the same kernel for all users. Developed by Theo de Raadt, KARL will work by generating a new kernel binary at install, upgrade, and boot time. If the user boots up, upgrades, or reboots his machine, the most recently generated kernel will replace the existing kernel binary, and the OS will generate a new kernel binary that will be used on the next boot/upgrade/reboot, constantly rotating kernels on reboots or upgrades. KARL should not be confused with ASLR — Address Space Layout Randomization — a technique that randomizes the memory address where application code is executed, so exploits can’t target a specific area of memory where an application or the kernel is known to run. A similar technique exists for randomizing the memory location where the kernel loads — called KASLR. The difference between the two is that KARL loads a different kernel binary in the same place, while KASLR loads the same binary in random locations. Currently Linux and Windows only support KASLR.


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