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From Graham Leggett <>
Subject Re: rational behind not checking the return value of apr_palloc and apr_pcalloc
Date Fri, 03 Sep 2010 09:49:49 GMT
On 03 Sep 2010, at 5:31 AM, dave b wrote:

> Sure ok :)
> You have no complains from me really here. Just this could be an issue
> on some platform with some mods potentially :)

In order to understand why it isn't an issue for httpd, you need to  
understand how httpd works.

httpd has a thin parent process, which is responsible for spawning  
children as required to do the actual work. Those children doing the  
actual work are expendable, and if the child process dies for any  
reason, the parent process will spawn new child processes to replace  

This is the fundamental reason why it is so difficult to crash an  
httpd server, because your module code only has the power to crash one  
child process. If a single child process goes bananas and tries to  
allocate all the RAM, that child will be terminated and replaced.

> I only asked this list because the mod_wsgi guy wasn't checking the
> result of memory allocation. The rational as I see it is: there is
> only a few cases where this can happen 1: and 2: first the attacker
> has to find  a way to reduce system memory to an almost oom condition
> by the looks of it.

If the attacker has found a way to create an OOM condition, that child  
process will terminate and be replaced, and the attacker would have  
caused no lasting damage.


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