Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 2nd Feb 2013 01:47 UTC, submitted by rohan_p
OSNews, Generic OSes "Whonix is a project to build an operating system that will offer the maximum privacy and anonymity possible straight out of the box. Its creator, 'Adrelanos', says the aim is to make it as hard as possible for privacy-conscious users to make missteps when it comes to remaining anonymous. 'It also provides loads of documentation and possibilities for interested users to make it even more secure,' he says." We've already covered Whonix before.
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RE[2]: Comment by Laurence
by Laurence on Sun 3rd Feb 2013 12:34 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Laurence"
Laurence
Member since:
2007-03-26

What makes you say this? Now I don't know the particulars of VBox (I'm a KVM user myself), but in general within a VM the networking is completely sandboxed as well. The virtual network traffic cannot just jump onto the host's network stack unless they're bound somehow.

The issue isn't with the network breaking out, but services. VMs still borrow services from the host environment (see the example posted below). Once you've gained shell access to the host, it doesn't really matter if the network is sandboxed because you're gaining root on the host without having to touch the host's NATing.

You'll have to forgive me if I have my doubts, maybe OpenVZ is more secure, but such claims deserve to be backed by hard evidence.

Cetainly, it was bad of me not to cite any evidence:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCPFlwSCmvU


What makes you say this? Now I don't know the particulars of VBox (I'm a KVM user myself), but in general within a VM the networking is completely sandboxed as well. The virtual network traffic cannot just jump onto the host's network stack unless they're bound somehow.

Not all hardware supports extensions and paravirtualisation will always perform faster than hardware emulation. Which is where containers come into their own: you're using the host hardware and kernel but everything else is sandboxed.

You can even do snapshots and a number of other VM-centric tools with containers too.

Don't get me wrong, VMs do have their place too - I'm not trying to argue that containers are the holy grail of virtualisation (though technically not virtualisation), but I honestly do think containers are a massively underrated and overlooked tool ;)

Edited 2013-02-03 12:37 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by Laurence
by Soulbender on Sun 3rd Feb 2013 14:19 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Laurence"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

VMs still borrow services from the host environment (see the example posted below).


...but so does OpenVZ (and LXC), even more so than Virtualbox since they are on the OS-level. Wouldn't they be even easier to break out of? Also, OpenVZ is a ginormous 3rd party kernel patch and I'm not sure how great that is for security ;)

That said, I do agree that OpenVZ/LXC would probably be a more efficient solution for this use case.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[4]: Comment by Laurence
by Laurence on Sun 3rd Feb 2013 18:33 in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Laurence"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

...but so does OpenVZ (and LXC), even more so than Virtualbox since they are on the OS-level. Wouldn't they be even easier to break out of?

As far as I know, they don't share services in quite the same way. At least what I've read would suggest that. But I may well be wrong there.

Also, OpenVZ is a ginormous 3rd party kernel patch and I'm not sure how great that is for security

That's a fair concern. I guess peer review is will highlight any issues - in time.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by Laurence
by Alfman on Mon 4th Feb 2013 05:27 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Laurence"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Laurence,

"The issue isn't with the network breaking out, but services. VMs still borrow services from the host environment (see the example posted below)."

That's a good link. I couldn't find the paper directly and alas I didn't watch the whole video, but I did watch enough to see two interesting tidbits:

1. kvm-intel and kvm-amd (which run in kernel mode) are relatively small and have a small attack surface which makes kernel exploits less likely.

2. qemu-kvm, which was responsible for the exploit and is allegedly the weakest chain is a userspace component.

It's bad for a VM to have exploits, however in theory it's still a layer of security on top of the kernel's own userspace restrictions. So it's tempting to argue that a *carefully* configured VM might still be more secure even with the risk of exploits.

The cited bug:
https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=699773

This kind of bug would require root access in the guest, which the web browser in Whonix's guest VM is unlikely to have. (Yea yea, Whonix doesn't use kvm...)

Just to state it explicitly, a successful exploit would probably look something like this:

1. Exploit the web browser/plugins to pown guest userspace.
2. Exploit the guest kernel restrictions to gain root.
3. Exploit the KVM to gain host shell access.
4. If host userspace networking isn't locked down, hacker wins.
5. Else exploit host kernel to gain host root.
6. Hacker wins.



"Not all hardware supports extensions and paravirtualisation will always perform faster than hardware emulation."

Of course, that's the reasons the virtual IO drivers are designed to allow IO without actually emulating hardware. But I don't deny that a native host processes will be more efficient than a VM.

Edit: Consider Windows running virtual IO drivers under a VM even though it's not a paravirtualized OS.


"Don't get me wrong, VMs do have their place too - I'm not trying to argue that containers are the holy grail of virtualisation (though technically not virtualisation), but I honestly do think containers are a massively underrated and overlooked tool"

I don't disagree with this at all.

Edited 2013-02-04 05:30 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[4]: Comment by Laurence
by Laurence on Mon 4th Feb 2013 08:37 in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Laurence"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

Some excellent points there.

There's definitely more to this than first meets the eye.

Reply Parent Score: 3