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[Python-Dev] PEP 578: Python Runtime Audit Hooks

PEP 551 (referenced from this one) contains information about using 
these hooks for security purposes, along with other approaches to 
minimize the risk of having Python in your production environments. 
Threat models have to be designed by the user; we can't predict what it 
looks like for the incredibly diverse user base we have.

This PEP is explicitly only about the API changes.


On 29Mar2019 1044, Ivan Pozdeev via Python-Dev wrote:
> Like in the mktemp thread earlier, I would request a threat model (what 
> use cases are supposed to be protected (in this case, by reporting 
> rather than preventing) and from what threats) -- in the discussion, and 
> eventually, in the PEP.
> Without one, any claims and talks about whether something would be an 
> effective security measure are pointless -- 'cuz you would never know if 
> you accounted for everything and would not even have the definition of 
> that "everything".
> On 29.03.2019 1:35, Steve Dower wrote:
>> Hi all
>> Time is short, but I'm hoping to get PEP 578 (formerly PEP 551) into 
>> Python 3.8. Here's the current text for review and comment before I 
>> submit to the Steering Council.
>> The formatted text is at https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-0578/ 
>> (update just pushed, so give it an hour or so, but it's fundamentally 
>> the same as what's there)
>> No Discourse post, because we don't have a python-dev equivalent there 
>> yet, so please reply here for this one.
>> Implementation is at https://github.com/zooba/cpython/tree/pep-578/ 
>> and my backport to 3.7 
>> (https://github.com/zooba/cpython/tree/pep-578-3.7/) is already 
>> getting some real use (though this will not be added to 3.7, unless 
>> people *really* want it, so the backport is just for reference).
>> Cheers,
>> Steve
>> =====
>> PEP: 578
>> Title: Python Runtime Audit Hooks
>> Version: $Revision$
>> Last-Modified: $Date$
>> Author: Steve Dower <steve.dower at python.org>
>> Status: Draft
>> Type: Standards Track
>> Content-Type: text/x-rst
>> Created: 16-Jun-2018
>> Python-Version: 3.8
>> Post-History:
>> Abstract
>> ========
>> This PEP describes additions to the Python API and specific behaviors
>> for the CPython implementation that make actions taken by the Python
>> runtime visible to auditing tools. Visibility into these actions
>> provides opportunities for test frameworks, logging frameworks, and
>> security tools to monitor and optionally limit actions taken by the
>> runtime.
>> This PEP proposes adding two APIs to provide insights into a running
>> Python application: one for arbitrary events, and another specific to
>> the module import system. The APIs are intended to be available in all
>> Python implementations, though the specific messages and values used
>> are unspecified here to allow implementations the freedom to determine
>> how best to provide information to their users. Some examples likely
>> to be used in CPython are provided for explanatory purposes.
>> See PEP 551 for discussion and recommendations on enhancing the
>> security of a Python runtime making use of these auditing APIs.
>> Background
>> ==========
>> Python provides access to a wide range of low-level functionality on
>> many common operating systems. While this is incredibly useful for
>> "write-once, run-anywhere" scripting, it also makes monitoring of
>> software written in Python difficult. Because Python uses native system
>> APIs directly, existing monitoring tools either suffer from limited
>> context or auditing bypass.
>> Limited context occurs when system monitoring can report that an
>> action occurred, but cannot explain the sequence of events leading to
>> it. For example, network monitoring at the OS level may be able to
>> report "listening started on port 5678", but may not be able to
>> provide the process ID, command line, parent process, or the local
>> state in the program at the point that triggered the action. Firewall
>> controls to prevent such an action are similarly limited, typically
>> to process names or some global state such as the current user, and
>> in any case rarely provide a useful log file correlated with other
>> application messages.
>> Auditing bypass can occur when the typical system tool used for an
>> action would ordinarily report its use, but accessing the APIs via
>> Python do not trigger this. For example, invoking "curl" to make HTTP
>> requests may be specifically monitored in an audited system, but
>> Python's "urlretrieve" function is not.
>> Within a long-running Python application, particularly one that
>> processes user-provided information such as a web app, there is a risk
>> of unexpected behavior. This may be due to bugs in the code, or
>> deliberately induced by a malicious user. In both cases, normal
>> application logging may be bypassed resulting in no indication that
>> anything out of the ordinary has occurred.
>> Additionally, and somewhat unique to Python, it is very easy to affect
>> the code that is run in an application by manipulating either the
>> import system's search path or placing files earlier on the path than
>> intended. This is often seen when developers create a script with the
>> same name as the module they intend to use - for example, a
>> ``random.py`` file that attempts to import the standard library
>> ``random`` module.
>> This is not sandboxing, as this proposal does not attempt to prevent
>> malicious behavior (though it enables some new options to do so).
>> See the `Why Not A Sandbox`_ section below for further discussion.
>> Overview of Changes
>> ===================
>> The aim of these changes is to enable both application developers and
>> system administrators to integrate Python into their existing
>> monitoring systems without dictating how those systems look or behave.
>> We propose two API changes to enable this: an Audit Hook?and Verified
>> Open Hook. Both are available from Python and native code, allowing
>> applications and frameworks written in pure Python code to take
>> advantage of the extra messages, while also allowing embedders or
>> system administrators to deploy builds of Python where auditing is
>> always enabled.
>> Only CPython is bound to provide the native APIs as described here.
>> Other implementations should provide the pure Python APIs, and
>> may provide native versions as appropriate for their underlying
>> runtimes. Auditing events are likewise considered implementation
>> specific, but are bound by normal feature compatibility guarantees.
>> Audit Hook
>> ----------
>> In order to observe actions taken by the runtime (on behalf of the
>> caller), an API is required to raise messages from within certain
>> operations. These operations are typically deep within the Python
>> runtime or standard library, such as dynamic code compilation, module
>> imports, DNS resolution, or use of certain modules such as ``ctypes``.
>> The following new C APIs allow embedders and CPython implementors to
>> send and receive audit hook messages::
>> ?? # Add an auditing hook
>> ?? typedef int (*hook_func)(const char *event, PyObject *args,
>> ??????????????????????????? void *userData);
>> ?? int PySys_AddAuditHook(hook_func hook, void *userData);
>> ?? # Raise an event with all auditing hooks
>> ?? int PySys_Audit(const char *event, PyObject *args);
>> ?? # Internal API used during Py_Finalize() - not publicly accessible
>> ?? void _Py_ClearAuditHooks(void);
>> The new Python APIs for receiving and raising audit hooks are::
>> ?? # Add an auditing hook
>> ?? sys.addaudithook(hook: Callable[[str, tuple]])
>> ?? # Raise an event with all auditing hooks
>> ?? sys.audit(str, *args)
>> Hooks are added by calling ``PySys_AddAuditHook()`` from C at any time,
>> including before ``Py_Initialize()``, or by calling
>> ``sys.addaudithook()`` from Python code. Hooks cannot be removed or
>> replaced.
>> When events of interest are occurring, code can either call
>> ``PySys_Audit()`` from C (while the GIL is held) or ``sys.audit()``. The
>> string argument is the name of the event, and the tuple contains
>> arguments. A given event name should have a fixed schema for arguments,
>> which should be considered a public API (for each x.y version release),
>> and thus should only change between feature releases with updated
>> documentation.
>> For maximum compatibility, events using the same name as an event in
>> the reference interpreter CPython should make every attempt to use
>> compatible arguments. Including the name or an abbreviation of the
>> implementation in implementation-specific event names will also help
>> prevent collisions. For example, a ``pypy.jit_invoked`` event is clearly
>> distinguised from an ``ipy.jit_invoked`` event.
>> When an event is audited, each hook is called in the order it was added
>> with the event name and tuple. If any hook returns with an exception
>> set, later hooks are ignored and *in general* the Python runtime should
>> terminate. This is intentional to allow hook implementations to decide
>> how to respond to any particular event. The typical responses will be to
>> log the event, abort the operation with an exception, or to immediately
>> terminate the process with an operating system exit call.
>> When an event is audited but no hooks have been set, the ``audit()``
>> function should impose minimal overhead. Ideally, each argument is a
>> reference to existing data?rather than a value calculated just for the
>> auditing call.
>> As hooks may be Python objects, they need to be freed during
>> ``Py_Finalize()``. To do this, we add an internal API
>> ``_Py_ClearAuditHooks()`` that releases any Python hooks and any
>> memory held. This is an internal function with no public export, and
>> we recommend it raise its own audit event for all current hooks to
>> ensure that unexpected calls are observed.
>> Below in `Suggested Audit Hook Locations`_, we recommend some important
>> operations that should raise audit events.
>> Python implementations should document which operations will raise
>> audit events, along with the event schema. It is intentional that
>> ``sys.addaudithook(print)`` be a trivial way to display all messages.
>> Verified Open Hook
>> ------------------
>> Most operating systems have a mechanism to distinguish between files
>> that can be executed and those that can not. For example, this may be an
>> execute bit in the permissions field, a verified hash of the file
>> contents to detect potential code tampering, or file system path
>> restrictions. These are an important security mechanism for preventing
>> execution of data or code that is not approved for a given environment.
>> Currently, Python has no way to integrate with these when launching
>> scripts or importing modules.
>> The new public C API for the verified open hook is::
>> ?? # Set the handler
>> ?? typedef PyObject *(*hook_func)(PyObject *path, void *userData)
>> ?? int PyImport_SetOpenForImportHook(hook_func handler, void *userData)
>> ?? # Open a file using the handler
>> ?? PyObject *PyImport_OpenForImport(const char *path)
>> The new public Python API for the verified open hook is::
>> ?? # Open a file using the handler
>> ?? importlib.util.open_for_import(path : str) -> io.IOBase
>> The ``importlib.util.open_for_import()`` function is a drop-in
>> replacement?for ``open(str(pathlike), 'rb')``. Its default behaviour is
>> to open a file for raw, binary access. To change the behaviour a new
>> handler should be set. Handler functions only accept ``str`` arguments.
>> The C API ``PyImport_OpenForImport`` function assumes UTF-8 encoding.
>> A custom handler may be set by calling 
>> ``PyImport_SetOpenForImportHook()``
>> from C at any time, including before ``Py_Initialize()``. However, if a
>> hook has already been set then the call will fail. When
>> ``open_for_import()`` is called with a hook set, the hook will be passed
>> the path and its return value will be returned directly. The returned
>> object should be an open file-like object that supports reading raw
>> bytes. This is explicitly intended to allow a ``BytesIO`` instance if
>> the open handler has already read the entire file into memory.
>> Note that these hooks can import and call the ``_io.open()`` function on
>> CPython without triggering themselves. They can also use ``_io.BytesIO``
>> to return a compatible result using an in-memory buffer.
>> If the hook determines that the file should not be loaded, it should
>> raise an exception of its choice, as well as performing any other
>> logging.
>> All import and execution functionality involving code from a file will
>> be changed to use ``open_for_import()`` unconditionally. It is important
>> to note that calls to ``compile()``, ``exec()`` and ``eval()`` do not go
>> through this function - an audit hook that includes the code from these
>> calls is the best opportunity to validate code that is read from the
>> file. Given the current decoupling between import and execution in
>> Python, most imported code will go through both ``open_for_import()``
>> and the log hook for ``compile``, and so care should be taken to avoid
>> repeating verification steps.
>> There is no Python API provided for changing the open hook. To modify
>> import behavior from Python code, use the existing functionality
>> provided by ``importlib``.
>> API Availability
>> ----------------
>> While all the functions added here are considered public and stable API,
>> the behavior of the functions is implementation specific. Most
>> descriptions here refer?to the CPython?implementation, and while other
>> implementations should provide the functions, there is no requirement
>> that they behave the same.
>> For example, ``sys.addaudithook()`` and ``sys.audit()`` should exist but
>> may do nothing. This allows code to make calls to ``sys.audit()``
>> without having to test for existence, but it should not assume that its
>> call will have any effect. (Including existence tests in
>> security-critical code allows another vector to bypass auditing, so it
>> is preferable that the function always exist.)
>> ``importlib.util.open_for_import(path)`` should at a minimum always
>> return ``_io.open(path, 'rb')``. Code using the function should make no
>> further assumptions about what may occur, and implementations other than
>> CPython are not required to let developers override the behavior of this
>> function with a hook.
>> Suggested Audit Hook Locations
>> ==============================
>> The locations and parameters in calls to ``sys.audit()`` or
>> ``PySys_Audit()`` are to be determined by individual Python
>> implementations. This is to allow maximum freedom for implementations
>> to expose the operations that are most relevant to their platform,
>> and to avoid or ignore potentially expensive or noisy events.
>> Table 1 acts as both suggestions of operations that should trigger
>> audit events on all implementations, and examples of event schemas.
>> Table 2 provides further examples that are not required, but are
>> likely to be available in CPython.
>> Refer to the documentation associated with your version of Python to
>> see which operations provide audit events.
>> .. csv-table:: Table 1: Suggested Audit Hooks
>> ?? :header: "API Function", "Event Name", "Arguments", "Rationale"
>> ?? :widths: 2, 2, 3, 6
>> ?? ``PySys_AddAuditHook``, ``sys.addaudithook``, "", "Detect when new
>> ?? audit hooks are being added.
>> ?? "
>> ?? ``PyImport_SetOpenForImportHook``, ``setopenforimporthook``, "", "
>> ?? Detects any attempt to set the ``open_for_import`` hook.
>> ?? "
>> ?? "``compile``, ``exec``, ``eval``, ``PyAst_CompileString``,
>> ?? ``PyAST_obj2mod``", ``compile``, "``(code, filename_or_none)``", "
>> ?? Detect dynamic code compilation, where ``code`` could be a string or
>> ?? AST. Note that this will be called for regular imports of source
>> ?? code, including those that were opened with ``open_for_import``.
>> ?? "
>> ?? "``exec``, ``eval``, ``run_mod``", ``exec``, "``(code_object,)``", "
>> ?? Detect dynamic execution of code objects. This only occurs for
>> ?? explicit calls, and is not raised for normal function invocation.
>> ?? "
>> ?? ``import``, ``import``, "``(module, filename, sys.path,
>> ?? sys.meta_path, sys.path_hooks)``", "Detect when modules are
>> ?? imported. This is raised before the module name is resolved to a
>> ?? file. All arguments other than the module name may be ``None`` if
>> ?? they are not used or available.
>> ?? "
>> ?? "``open``", ``open``, "``(path, mode, flags)``", "Detect when a file
>> ?? is about to be opened. *path* and *mode* are the usual parameters to
>> ?? ``open`` if available, while *flags* is provided instead of *mode*
>> ?? in some cases.
>> ?? "
>> ?? ``PyEval_SetProfile``, ``sys.setprofile``, "", "Detect when code is
>> ?? injecting trace functions. Because of the implementation, exceptions
>> ?? raised from the hook will abort the operation, but will not be
>> ?? raised in Python code. Note that ``threading.setprofile`` eventually
>> ?? calls this function, so the event will be audited for each thread.
>> ?? "
>> ?? ``PyEval_SetTrace``, ``sys.settrace``, "", "Detect when code is
>> ?? injecting trace functions. Because of the implementation, exceptions
>> ?? raised from the hook will abort the operation, but will not be
>> ?? raised in Python code. Note that ``threading.settrace`` eventually
>> ?? calls this function, so the event will be audited for each thread.
>> ?? "
>> ?? "``_PyObject_GenericSetAttr``, ``check_set_special_type_attr``,
>> ?? ``object_set_class``, ``func_set_code``, ``func_set_[kw]defaults``","
>> ?? ``object.__setattr__``","``(object, attr, value)``","Detect monkey
>> ?? patching of types and objects. This event
>> ?? is raised for the ``__class__`` attribute and any attribute on
>> ?? ``type`` objects.
>> ?? "
>> "``_PyObject_GenericSetAttr``",``object.__delattr__``,"``(object,
>> ?? attr)``","Detect deletion of object attributes. This event is raised
>> ?? for any attribute on ``type`` objects.
>> ?? "
>> "``Unpickler.find_class``",``pickle.find_class``,"``(module_name,
>> ?? global_name)``","Detect imports and global name lookup when
>> ?? unpickling.
>> ?? "
>> .. csv-table:: Table 2: Potential CPython Audit Hooks
>> ?? :header: "API Function", "Event Name", "Arguments", "Rationale"
>> ?? :widths: 2, 2, 3, 6
>> ?? ``_PySys_ClearAuditHooks``, ``sys._clearaudithooks``, "", "Notifies
>> ?? hooks they are being cleaned up, mainly in case the event is
>> ?? triggered unexpectedly. This event cannot be aborted.
>> ?? "
>> ?? ``code_new``, ``code.__new__``, "``(bytecode, filename, name)``", "
>> ?? Detect dynamic creation of code objects. This only occurs for
>> ?? direct instantiation, and is not raised for normal compilation.
>> ?? "
>> ?? ``func_new_impl``, ``function.__new__``, "``(code,)``", "Detect
>> ?? dynamic creation of function objects. This only occurs for direct
>> ?? instantiation, and is not raised for normal compilation.
>> ?? "
>> ?? "``_ctypes.dlopen``, ``_ctypes.LoadLibrary``", ``ctypes.dlopen``, "
>> ?? ``(module_or_path,)``", "Detect when native modules are used.
>> ?? "
>> ?? ``_ctypes._FuncPtr``, ``ctypes.dlsym``, "``(lib_object, name)``", "
>> ?? Collect information about specific symbols retrieved from native
>> ?? modules.
>> ?? "
>> ?? ``_ctypes._CData``, ``ctypes.cdata``, "``(ptr_as_int,)``", "Detect
>> ?? when code is accessing arbitrary memory using ``ctypes``.
>> ?? "
>> ?? "``new_mmap_object``",``mmap.__new__``,"``(fileno, map_size, access,
>> ?? offset)``", "Detects creation of mmap objects. On POSIX, access may
>> ?? have been calculated from the ``prot`` and ``flags`` arguments.
>> ?? "
>> ?? ``sys._getframe``, ``sys._getframe``, "``(frame_object,)``", "Detect
>> ?? when code is accessing frames directly.
>> ?? "
>> ?? ``sys._current_frames``, ``sys._current_frames``, "", "Detect when
>> ?? code is accessing frames directly.
>> ?? "
>> ?? "``socket.bind``, ``socket.connect``, ``socket.connect_ex``,
>> ?? ``socket.getaddrinfo``, ``socket.getnameinfo``, ``socket.sendmsg``,
>> ?? ``socket.sendto``", ``socket.address``, "``(address,)``", "Detect
>> ?? access to network resources. The address is unmodified from the
>> ?? original call.
>> ?? "
>> ?? "``member_get``, ``func_get_code``, ``func_get_[kw]defaults``
>> ?? ",``object.__getattr__``,"``(object, attr)``","Detect access to
>> ?? restricted attributes. This event is raised for any built-in
>> ?? members that are marked as restricted, and members that may allow
>> ?? bypassing imports.
>> ?? "
>> ?? "``urllib.urlopen``",``urllib.Request``,"``(url, data, headers,
>> ?? method)``", "Detects URL requests.
>> ?? "
>> Performance Impact
>> ==================
>> The important performance impact is the case where events are being
>> raised but there are no hooks attached. This is the unavoidable case -
>> once a developer has added audit hooks they have explicitly chosen to
>> trade performance for functionality. Performance impact with hooks added
>> are not of interest here, since this is opt-in functionality.
>> Analysis using the Python Performance Benchmark Suite [1]_ shows no
>> significant impact, with the vast majority of benchmarks showing
>> between 1.05x faster to 1.05x slower.
>> In our opinion, the performance impact of the set of auditing points
>> described in this PEP is negligible.
>> Rejected Ideas
>> ==============
>> Separate module for audit hooks
>> -------------------------------
>> The proposal is to add a new module for audit hooks, hypothetically
>> ``audit``. This would separate the API and implementation from the
>> ``sys`` module, and allow naming the C functions ``PyAudit_AddHook`` and
>> ``PyAudit_Audit`` rather than the current variations.
>> Any such module would need to be a built-in module that is guaranteed to
>> always be present. The nature of these hooks is that they must be
>> callable without condition, as any conditional imports or calls provide
>> opportunities to intercept and suppress or modify events.
>> Given it is one of the most core modules, the ``sys`` module is somewhat
>> protected against module shadowing attacks. Replacing ``sys`` with a
>> sufficiently functional module that the application can still run is a
>> much more complicated task than replacing a module with only one
>> function of interest. An attacker that has the ability to shadow the
>> ``sys`` module is already capable of running arbitrary code from files,
>> whereas an ``audit`` module could be replaced with a single line in a
>> ``.pth`` file anywhere on the search path::
>> ??? import sys; sys.modules['audit'] = type('audit', (object,),
>> ??????? {'audit': lambda *a: None, 'addhook': lambda *a: None})
>> Multiple layers of protection already exist for monkey patching attacks
>> against either ``sys`` or ``audit``, but assignments or insertions to
>> ``sys.modules`` are not audited.
>> This idea is rejected because it makes it trivial to suppress all calls
>> to ``audit``.
>> Flag in sys.flags to indicate "audited" mode
>> --------------------------------------------
>> The proposal is to add a value in ``sys.flags`` to indicate when Python
>> is running in a "secure" or "audited" mode. This would allow
>> applications to detect when some features are enabled or when hooks
>> have been added and modify their behaviour appropriately.
>> Currently, we are not aware of any legitimate reasons for a program to
>> behave differently in the presence of audit hooks.
>> Both application-level APIs ``sys.audit`` and
>> ``importlib.util.open_for_import`` are always present and functional,
>> regardless of whether the regular ``python`` entry point or some
>> alternative entry point is used. Callers cannot determine whether any
>> hooks have been added (except by performing side-channel analysis), nor
>> do they need to. The calls should be fast enough that callers do not
>> need to avoid them, and the program is responsible for ensuring that
>> any added hooks are fast enough to not affect application performance.
>> The argument that this is "security by obscurity" is valid, but
>> irrelevant. Security by obscurity is only an issue when there are no
>> other protective mechanisms; obscurity as the first step in avoiding
>> attack is strongly recommended (see `this article
>> <https://danielmiessler.com/study/security-by-obscurity/>`_ for
>> discussion).
>> This idea is rejected because there are no appropriate reasons for an
>> application to change its behaviour based on whether these APIs are in
>> use.
>> Why Not A Sandbox
>> =================
>> Sandboxing CPython has been attempted many times in the past, and each
>> past attempt has failed. Fundamentally, the problem is that certain
>> functionality has to be restricted when executing the sandboxed code,
>> but otherwise needs to be available for normal operation of Python. For
>> example, completely removing the ability to compile strings into
>> bytecode also breaks the ability to import modules from source code, and
>> if it is not completely removed then there are too many ways to get
>> access to that functionality indirectly. There is not yet any feasible
>> way to generically determine whether a given operation is "safe" or not.
>> Further information and references available at [2]_.
>> This proposal does not attempt to restrict functionality, but simply
>> exposes the fact that the functionality is being used. Particularly for
>> intrusion scenarios, detection is significantly more important than
>> early prevention (as early prevention will generally drive attackers to
>> use an alternate, less-detectable, approach). The availability of audit
>> hooks alone does not change the attack surface of Python in any way, but
>> they enable defenders to integrate Python into their environment in ways
>> that are currently not possible.
>> Since audit hooks have the ability to safely prevent an operation
>> occuring, this feature does enable the ability to provide some level of
>> sandboxing. In most cases, however, the intention is to enable logging
>> rather than creating a sandbox.
>> Relationship to PEP 551
>> =======================
>> This API was originally presented as part of
>> `PEP 551 <https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-0551/>`_ Security
>> Transparency in the Python Runtime.
>> For simpler review purposes, and due to the broader applicability of
>> these APIs beyond security, the API design is now presented separately.
>> PEP 551 is an informational PEP discussing how to integrate Python into
>> a secure or audited environment.
>> References
>> ==========
>> .. [1] Python Performance Benchmark Suite 
>> `<https://github.com/python/performance>`_
>> .. [2] Python Security model - Sandbox 
>> `<https://python-security.readthedocs.io/security.html#sandbox>`_
>> Copyright
>> =========
>> Copyright (c) 2019 by Microsoft Corporation. This material may be
>> distributed only subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the
>> Open Publication License, v1.0 or later (the latest version is presently
>> available at http://www.opencontent.org/openpub/).