Skip to content

Hardening and Security

glaucus follows the principle of least privilege; each part of the system should only be able to access what is strictly required, and nothing more.

  • Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR)
  • Binding Policy NOW (BIND_NOW)
  • Data Execution Prevention (DEP)
  • Executable-Space Protection (ESP)
  • eXecute Disable (XD)
  • No eXecute (NX)
  • Position Independent Code (PIC)
  • Position Independent Executables (PIE)
  • RELocation Read-Only (RELRO)
  • Stack Clash Protection (SCP)
  • Stack Smashing Protection (SSP)


Smash Stack Protection (SSP) (Canary)

  • libssp is obsoleted for modern systems:
  • Musl no longer uses libssp (1877bc9d8f), it has internal support, so SSP_SUPPORT was disabled leading some package to not use SSP:[email protected]/msg52869.html
  • Alpine Linux uses the libssp_nonshared.a library for architectures that do not support the required symbols for stack protection. Specifically, the __stack_chk_fail function is needed for stack protection, and some architectures may not have this function available in the libc or may have an incompatible implementation. libssp_nonshared.a provides the missing symbols needed for stack protection on such architectures. It is a standalone version of the SSP library that does not require linking against the shared version. The nonshared library is usually included in the package for the GCC compiler, along with the shared version of the library:
  • if __stack_chk_fail_local is an unresolved symbol. This is needed on i386 as GCC emits local calls to __stack_chk_fail_local on this architecture but not on 64-bit architectures, hence this issue can only be reproduced on i386. Unfortunately, linking against libc_nonshared.a is not portable as there is no guarantee that __stack_chk_fail_local is defined by this library. On Alpine, the library providing this symbol is instead called libssp_nonshared.a but it may be named differently on other musl-based Linux distributions
  • This only happens on i386 as only on i386 (and 32-bit ppc) GCC emits local calls to __stack_chk_fail_local and can thus not resolve these symbols via This is not the case on amd64. Also, this does not only apply to musl but also to glibc. See the musl ML post referenced in my original issue description (
  • Final: No need to provide libssp as we are not using i386/i?86 or PPC (Sabotage and Void are smarter than alpine when it comes to this)
  • No need to use Alpine’s gcc patch 0008 for libssp as we no longer require it
  • -fstack-protector-strong: Also known as stack canary. The earliest version is simply called “-fstack-protector”, but the coverage was bad (only “protects” <2% functions), there was also “-fstack-protector-full”, adding checks to ALL functions, but the performance overhead is unacceptable. The “-strong” variant is an upgraded version, it uses a heuristic when determining if a function needs stack protectors, provides much better code coverage and a tradeoff between security and performance. It’s relatively expensive, but is considered essential to prevent attackers from smashing the stack, and is enabled in most web browser engines.

Stack Clash Protection (SCP)

Control-Flow Integrity (CFI)

Source Fortification


  • -z,defs and -Wl,-pie cause packages to break like nsss
  • fortify-headers causes packages like skalibs and others to break
  • checksec --file=/bin/gcc to check if a binary has hardening stuff enabled or not


  • -fpie -Wl,-pie vs -fPIE
  • We are using --enable-default-pie with gcc which means PIE is automatically enabled so no need to provide anything


  • -fpic -shared
  • --with-pic by default in binutils
  • Specifying --with-pic has no meaning when --disable-static is being used as:
    • by default shared libraries are built using PIC
    • by default static archives are built using non-PIC
    • specifying --with-pic makes static archives build using PIC
    • specifying --without-pic makes shared libraries build using non-PIC
    • it does not hurt to use --with-pic in all cases

Format Protection (Format string checks)

  • -Wformat -Wformat-security
  • -Werror=format-security (this alone is enough)
  • -Wformat -Wformat-security -Werror=format-security
  • These flags with -Werror stop compilation instead of just warning so you can open an upstream issue and make upstream fix it


  • RELRO is useless without BIND_NOW