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[RFC][PR 67336][PING^2] Verify pointers during stack unwind

Hi all,

Libgcc unwinder currently does not do any verification of pointers
which it chases on stack. In practice this not so rarely causes
segfaults when unwinding on corrupted stacks (e.g. when when trying to
print diagnostic on
fatal error) [1]. Ironically this usually happens in error reporting
code which puzzles users.

I've attached one motivating example - with current libgcc it will
abort inside unwinder when trying to access invalid address

There is an old request to provide a safer version of
_Unwind_Backtrace (
that would check pointer validity prior to dereferencing. I've
attached a draft patch to see if this approach is viable and hopefully
get some advice.

The change is rather straightforward: I add a new
_Unwind_Backtrace_Checked which checks return value of msync on every
potentially unsafe access (libunwind does something like this as well,
although in a very incomplete manner).
To avoid paying for syscalls too often, I cache the last checked
memory page. Potentially parsing /proc/$$/maps would allow for much
faster verification but I didn't bother too much as new APIs are
intended for reporting fatal errors where speed isn't an issue.

The code is only implemented for DW2 unwinder (probably used on most targets).

So my questions now are:
1) Would this feature considered useful i.e. will it be accepted for
trunk once implementation is polished/tested?
2) Should I strive to implement it for all possible targets or DW2
would do for now? I don't have easy access to other platforms (ARM,
C6x, etc.) so this may delay implementation.
3) Any suggestions/comments on this attached draft implementation?
E.g. alternative syscalls to use (Andrew suggested futex), how many
verified addresses to cache, whether I should verify unwind table
accesses in addition to stack accesses, etc.


[1] The issue has been reported in the past e.g. "Adventure with Stack
Smashing Protector" (
#include <string.h>
#include <stdio.h>

struct _Unwind_Context;

typedef int (*_Unwind_Trace_Fn)(struct _Unwind_Context *, void *vdata);

extern int _Unwind_Backtrace(_Unwind_Trace_Fn trace, void * trace_argument);
extern int _Unwind_Backtrace_Checked(_Unwind_Trace_Fn trace, void * trace_argument);

extern void *_Unwind_GetIP (struct _Unwind_Context *context);

int simple_unwind (struct _Unwind_Context *context, void *vdata) {
  printf("Next frame: ");
  void *pc = _Unwind_GetIP(context);
  printf("%p\n", pc);
  return 0;

#define noinline __attribute__((noinline))

noinline int foo() {
  // Clobber stack to provoke errors in unwinder
  int x;
  void *p = &x;
  asm("" :: "r"(p));
  memset(p, 0xa, 128);

  printf("After clobbering stack\n");

  int ret = _Unwind_Backtrace(simple_unwind, 0);
  printf("After unwind: %d\n", ret);

  return 0;

noinline int bar() {
  int x = foo();
  return x + 1;

int main() {
  return 0;

Attachment: safe-unwind-1.patch
Description: Binary data

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