I'm trying to override malloc/free functions for the program, that requires setuid/setgid permissions. I use the LD_PRELOAD variable for this purpose. According to the ld documentation, I need to put my library into one of the standard search directories (I chose /usr/lib) and give it setuid/setgid permissions. I've done that. However, I still can't link to my .so file, getting the error:

object 'liballoc.so' from LD_PRELOAD cannot be preloaded: ignored

What can be the possible reasons for that? Tested this .so file on programs that don't have setuid/setgid permissions and all works fine. OS: RedHat 7.0

  • 2
    @ilkkachu linking to a man page doesn't mean you've read it all or understood every possible ramification of it. I speak from personal experience here. "skim, skim, skim, oh fsck why didn't i notice that paragraph earlier".
    – cas
    Nov 26 at 4:46
  • Are you running it as root or as a mortal user? If the latter, then ld.so will be in secure execution mode. It would help to show the permission bits on liballoc.so to confirm that you've set those correctly (IIRC, you need to set the library's setgid and setuid bits to indicate that you intend it to be preloaded into set?id processes). Nov 26 at 8:13
  • @cas, well, sure. As for that, just saying "read the man page" also doesn't help, since it doesn't tell what part they missed.
    – ilkkachu
    Nov 26 at 9:12

According to the ld documentation, I need to put my library into one of the standard search directories (I chose /usr/lib)

That was the mistake. You should've put it in /usr/lib64 (assuming that your machine is a x86_64).

I've just tried the recipe from the manpage on a Centos 7 VM (which should be ~identical to RHEL 7) and it works:

As root:

cynt# cc -shared -fPIC -xc - <<<'char *setlocale(int c, const char *l){ errx(1, "not today"); }' -o /usr/lib64/liblo.so
cynt# chmod 4755 /usr/lib64/liblo.so

As a regular user with a setuid program:

cynt$ LD_PRELOAD=liblo.so su -
su: not today

Whether it's a good idea to use that feature is a totally different matter (IMHO, it isn't).

  • Perhaps it's worth mentioning how to determine which directories are suitable. On my Debian machines, they are listed in /etc/ld.so.conf - I guess that's the same on Red Hat? Nov 26 at 8:08

man ld.so

Secure-execution mode
For security reasons, if the dynamic linker determines that a binary should be run in secure-execution mode, the effects of some environment variables are voided or modified
A binary is executed in secure-execution mode if

  • The process's real and effective user IDs differ

In secure-execution mode, preload pathnames containing slashes are ignored. Furthermore, shared objects are preloaded only from the standard search directories and only if they have set-user-ID mode bit enabled (which is not typical).

If a SUID binary is executed then this situation occurs: real UID and effective UID differ. But if this binary executes a different (non-SUID) binary then the EUID of the parent becomes the RUID and EUID of the child:

sudo sleep 1000 &

ps -o pid,ruid,euid,args --pid $! --ppid $!
 7286  1000     0 sudo sleep 1000
 7287     0     0 sleep 1000

So if you want to avoid the LD_PRELOAD restrictions you can call your binary via sudo or create a wrapper SUID binary which calls the actual one.


The reason for this is to prevent malicious code elevation. A C program does not start running in main(). Instead, the C Runtime Library is called first, which set up its environment (including the STDIO streams), any global variables that aren't compile-time constants, and then calls into main().

A malicious actor can use LD_PRELOAD= to override the libc.o library with a custom library with a modified startup function that does (for example) - restores LD_PRELOAD, and then invokes /bin/sh. If LD_PRELOAD= wasn't ignored for a SUID process, that user could then run /bin/passwd, and they now have a root shell. From there they can now install a rootkit, etc.

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