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External USB fuzzing for Linux kernel

Syzkaller supports fuzzing the Linux kernel USB subsystem externally (as can be done by plugging in a programmable USB device like Facedancer). This allowed finding over 300 bugs in the Linux kernel USB stack so far.

USB fuzzing support consists of 3 parts:

  1. Syzkaller changes; see the Internals section for details.
  2. Kernel interface for USB device emulation called Raw Gadget, which is now in the mainline kernel.
  3. KCOV changes that allow to collect coverage from background kernel threads and interrupts, which are now in the mainline kernel.

See the OffensiveCon 2019 Coverage-Guided USB Fuzzing with Syzkaller talk (video) for some (partially outdated) details.

As USB fuzzing requires kernel side support, for non-mainline kernels you need all mainline patches that touch drivers/usb/gadget/udc/dummy_hcd.c, drivers/usb/gadget/legacy/raw_gadget.c and kernel/kcov.c.


Currently, syzkaller defines 6 USB pseudo-syscalls (see syzlang descriptions and pseudo-syscalls implementation, which relies on the Raw Gadget interface linked above):

  1. syz_usb_connect - connects a USB device. Handles all requests to the control endpoint until a SET_CONFIGURATION request is received.
  2. syz_usb_connect_ath9k - connects an ath9k USB device. Compared to syz_usb_connect, this syscall also handles firmware download requests that happen after SET_CONFIGURATION for the ath9k driver.
  3. syz_usb_disconnect - disconnects a USB device.
  4. syz_usb_control_io - sends or receives a control message over endpoint 0.
  5. syz_usb_ep_write - sends a message to a non-control endpoint.
  6. syz_usb_ep_read - receives a message from a non-control endpoint.

These pseudo-syscalls targeted at a few different layers:

  1. USB core enumeration process is targeted by the generic syz_usb_connect variant. As the USB device descriptor fields for this pseudo-syscall get patched by syzkaller runtime, syz_usb_connect also briefly targets the enumeration process of various USB drivers.
  2. Enumeration process for class-specific drivers is targeted by syz_usb_connect$hid, syz_usb_connect$cdc_ecm, etc. (the device descriptors provided to them have fixed identifying USB IDs to always match to the same USB class driver) accompanied by matching syz_usb_control_io$* pseudo-syscalls.
  3. Subsequent communication through non-control endpoints for class-specific drivers is not targeted by existing descriptions yet for any of the supported classes. But it can be triggered through generic syz_usb_ep_write and syz_usb_ep_read pseudo-syscalls.
  4. Enumeration process for device-specific drivers is not covered by existing descriptions yet.
  5. Subsequent communication through non-control endpoints for device-specific drivers is partially described only for ath9k driver via syz_usb_connect_ath9k, syz_usb_ep_write$ath9k_ep1 and syz_usb_ep_write$ath9k_ep2 pseudo-syscalls.

There are runtests for USB pseudo-syscalls. They are named starting with the vusb prefix and can be run with:

./bin/syz-runtest -config=usb-manager.cfg -tests=vusb

Things to improve

The core support for USB fuzzing is in place, but there’s still a place for improvements:

  1. Remove the device from usb_devices in syz_usb_disconnect and don’t call lookup_usb_index multiple times within syz_usb_connect. Currently, this causes some reproducers to have the repeat flag set when it’s not required.

  2. Add descriptions for more relevant USB classes and drivers.

  3. Resolve TODOs from sys/linux/vusb.txt.

  4. Implement a proper way for dynamically extracting relevant USB ids from the kernel (a related discussion).

  5. Add a mode for standalone fuzzing of physical USB hosts (by using Raspberry Pi Zero, see below). This includes at least: a. making sure that current USB emulation implementation works properly on different OSes (there are some differences in protocol implementation); b. using USB requests coming from the host as a signal (like coverage) to enable “signal-driven” fuzzing, c. making UDC driver name configurable for syz-execprog and syz-prog2c.

  6. Generate syzkaller programs from usbmon trace that is produced by actual USB devices (this should make the fuzzer to go significantly deeper into the USB drivers code).

Setting up

  1. Make sure the version of the kernel you’re using is at least 5.7. It’s recommended to backport all kernel patches that touch kcov, USB Raw Gadget, and USB Dummy UDC/HCD.

  2. Configure the kernel: at the very least, CONFIG_USB_RAW_GADGET=y and CONFIG_USB_DUMMY_HCD=y must be enabled.

    The easiest option is to use the config from the syzbot USB fuzzing instance.

  3. Build the kernel.

  4. Optionally update syzkaller descriptions by extracting USB IDs using the instructions below.

  5. Enable syz_usb_connect, syz_usb_disconnect, syz_usb_control_io, syz_usb_ep_write and syz_usb_ep_read pseudo-syscalls in the manager config.

  6. Set sandbox to none in the manager config.

  7. Pass dummy_hcd.num=8 (or whatever number you use for procs) to the kernel command line in the manager config.

  8. Run.

Updating syzkaller USB IDs

Syzkaller uses a list of hardcoded USB IDs that are patched into syz_usb_connect by syzkaller runtime. One of the ways to make syzkaller target only particular USB drivers is to alter that list. The instructions below describe a hackish way to generate syzkaller USB IDs for all USB drivers enabled in your .config.

  1. Apply this kernel patch.

  2. Build and boot the kernel.

  3. Connect a USB HID device. In case you’re using a CONFIG_USB_RAW_GADGET=y kernel, use the keyboard emulation program.

  4. Use syz-usbgen script to update syzkaller descriptions:

    ./bin/syz-usbgen $KERNEL_LOG ./sys/linux/init_vusb_ids.go
  5. Don’t forget to revert the applied patch and rebuild the kernel before doing actual fuzzing.

Running reproducers with Raspberry Pi Zero W

It’s possible to run syzkaller USB reproducers by using a Linux board plugged into a physical USB host. These instructions describe how to set this up on a Raspberry Pi Zero W, but any other board that has a working USB UDC driver can be used as well.

  1. Download raspbian-stretch-lite.img from here.

  2. Flash the image into an SD card as described here.

  3. Enable UART as described here.

  4. Boot the board and get a shell over UART as described here. You’ll need a USB-UART module for that. The default login credentials are pi and raspberry.

  5. Get the board connected to the internet (plug in a USB Ethernet adapter or follow this).

  6. Update: sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade && sudo rpi-update && sudo reboot.

  7. Install useful packages: sudo apt-get install vim git.

  8. Download and install Go:

    curl -o go.linux-armv6l.tar.gz
    tar -xf go.linux-armv6l.tar.gz
    mv go goroot
    mkdir gopath
    export GOPATH=~/gopath
    export GOROOT=~/goroot
    export PATH=~/goroot/bin:$PATH
    export PATH=~/gopath/bin:$PATH
  9. Download syzkaller, apply the patch below and build syz-executor:

diff --git a/executor/common_usb_linux.h b/executor/common_usb_linux.h
index 451b2a7b..64af45c7 100644
--- a/executor/common_usb_linux.h
+++ b/executor/common_usb_linux.h
@@ -292,9 +292,7 @@ static volatile long syz_usb_connect_impl(uint64 speed, uint64 dev_len, const ch

        // TODO: consider creating two dummy_udc's per proc to increace the chance of
        // triggering interaction between multiple USB devices within the same program.
-       char device[32];
-       sprintf(&device[0], "dummy_udc.%llu", procid);
-       int rv = usb_raw_init(fd, speed, "dummy_udc", &device[0]);
+       rv = usb_raw_init(fd, speed, "20980000.usb", "20980000.usb");
        if (rv < 0) {
                debug("syz_usb_connect: usb_raw_init failed with %d\n", rv);
                return rv;
git clone
cd syzkaller
# Put the patch above into ./syzkaller.patch
git apply ./syzkaller.patch
make executor
mkdir ~/syz-bin
cp bin/linux_arm/syz-executor ~/syz-bin/
  1. Build syz-execprog on your host machine for arm32 with make TARGETARCH=arm execprog and copy to ~/syz-bin onto the SD card. You may try building syz-execprog on the Raspberry Pi itself, but that worked poorly for me due to large memory consumption during the compilation process.

  2. Make sure that you can now execute syzkaller programs:

    cat socket.log
    r0 = socket$inet_tcp(0x2, 0x1, 0x0)
    sudo ./syz-bin/syz-execprog -executor ./syz-bin/syz-executor -threaded=0 -collide=0 -procs=1 -enable='' -debug socket.log
  3. Setup the dwc2 USB gadget driver:

    echo "dtoverlay=dwc2" | sudo tee -a /boot/config.txt
    echo "dwc2" | sudo tee -a /etc/modules
    sudo reboot
  4. Get Linux kernel headers following this.

  5. Download and build the USB Raw Gadget module following this.

  6. Insert the module with sudo insmod raw_gadget.ko.

  7. Download, build, and run the keyboard emulator program:

    # Get keyboard.c
    gcc keyboard.c -o keyboard
    sudo ./keyboard 20980000.usb 20980000.usb
    # Make sure you see the letter 'x' being entered on the host.
  8. You should now be able to execute syzkaller USB programs:

    $ cat usb.log
    r0 = syz_usb_connect(0x0, 0x24, &(0x7f00000001c0)={{0x12, 0x1, 0x0, 0x8e, 0x32, 0xf7, 0x20, 0xaf0, 0xd257, 0x4e87, 0x0, 0x0, 0x0, 0x1, [{{0x9, 0x2, 0x12, 0x1, 0x0, 0x0, 0x0, 0x0, [{{0x9, 0x4, 0xf, 0x0, 0x0, 0xff, 0xa5, 0x2c}}]}}]}}, 0x0)
    $ sudo ./syz-bin/syz-execprog -slowdown 3 -executor ./syz-bin/syz-executor -threaded=0 -collide=0 -procs=1 -enable='' -debug usb.log

    The slowdown parameter is a scaling factor which can be used for increasing the syscall timeouts.

  9. Steps 19 through 21 are optional. You may use a UART console and a normal USB cable instead of ssh and Zero Stem.

  10. Follow this to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot.

  11. Follow this to enable ssh.

  12. Optionally solder Zero Stem onto your Raspberry Pi Zero W.

  13. You can now connect the board to an arbitrary USB port, wait for it to boot, join its Wi-Fi network, ssh onto it, and run arbitrary syzkaller USB programs.