clipboard integration -- possible security implications

William Hubbs w.d.hubbs at
Fri Oct 23 15:23:38 EDT 2009

On Fri, Oct 23, 2009 at 06:55:35AM -0500, Chris Brannon wrote:
> > although the question is still who the current user is. I
> > would define the current user as the one who is using Speakup at the 
> > time that text is copied to the Speakup clipboard.
> That is a perfect definition!  How do you determine who the current user is?
> I looked at headers under /usr/src/linux/include yesterday, and there
> doesn't seem to be any sort of userid field associated with the C structs
> that represent virtual consoles.

Right, I don't believe the kernel has anything to do with managing
users/groups/logins/logouts other than enforcing permissions.  It
manages the virtual terminals, but it doesn't seem to know or care who
is using them.

> I suppose that you could use the number of the virtual console on which
> the copy / paste operation is being performed.

Even if you know this, I don't know of a way you can tell from the
kernel who is logged onto that virtual terminal.

> Next, you have to figure out how to contact the X server that the current
> user is using.
> If there is going to be any sort of automatic transfer of data between
> Speakup's cut buffer and the X clipboard, then both of those pieces
> of info need to be known.  Who requested the copy or paste, and where is
> his X server -- assuming that he is running X?
 The only way I can think of to get the user's X server (assuming you
 know who the user is), would be to get into his environment and check
 the DISPLAY environment variable he has set.  But, I have no idea how
 this could be done.

> > Another idea would be to require a user to be in a special group, 
> > similar to only making the CD drive accessible to users in the "audio" 
> > group. The group would have to manually be created
> This is a really good idea, for everything under /sys/accessibility/speakup.
> The group would be created by the person who packages Speakup for your distro.
> The file ownerships need to be set correctly whenever speakup's modules are
> loaded.  If you look at "man modprobe.conf", there's a description of
> something called "install".  This "install" primitive allows us to run
> arbitrary commands whilst loading a module.
> The people who package Speakup could probably do all of this today, without
> requiring any change to the Speakup code.
> This won't solve all the problems related to automatic export / import
> of the clipboard, though.
 Right, securing speakup's /sys files, in general, is a completely
 separate subject imho.  I do agree though that this would be best
 handled in user space without doing anything to the speakup code.


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