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kvm: fix kvm_ioctl_create_device() reference counting (CVE-2019-6974)

kvm_ioctl_create_device() does the following:

1. creates a device that holds a reference to the VM object (with a borrowed
   reference, the VM's refcount has not been bumped yet)
2. initializes the device
3. transfers the reference to the device to the caller's file descriptor table
4. calls kvm_get_kvm() to turn the borrowed reference to the VM into a real

The ownership transfer in step 3 must not happen before the reference to the VM
becomes a proper, non-borrowed reference, which only happens in step 4.
After step 3, an attacker can close the file descriptor and drop the borrowed
reference, which can cause the refcount of the kvm object to drop to zero.

This means that we need to grab a reference for the device before
anon_inode_getfd(), otherwise the VM can disappear from under us.

Fixes: 852b6d5 ("kvm: add device control API")
Signed-off-by: Jann Horn <>
Signed-off-by: Paolo Bonzini <>
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thejh authored and bonzini committed Jan 26, 2019
1 parent 8834f56 commit cfa39381173d5f969daf43582c95ad679189cbc9
Showing with 2 additions and 1 deletion.
  1. +2 −1 virt/kvm/kvm_main.c
@@ -3000,16 +3000,17 @@ static int kvm_ioctl_create_device(struct kvm *kvm,
if (ops->init)

ret = anon_inode_getfd(ops->name, &kvm_device_fops, dev, O_RDWR | O_CLOEXEC);
if (ret < 0) {
return ret;

cd->fd = ret;
return 0;

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