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Date: Thu, 17 Dec 2009 20:33:31 +0000
From: Joe Orton <jorton@...hat.com>
To: Raphael Geissert <geissert@...ian.org>
Cc: oss-security@...ts.openwall.com
Subject: Re:  CVE request: php5: multiple issues

On Thu, Dec 17, 2009 at 01:23:33PM -0600, Raphael Geissert wrote:
> I think a cross-vendor security support and tracking effort for php5 
> is needed. The number of issues silently fixed are a continuous risk, 
> leaving users exposed. What does the others think?

The problem we face is the ambiguity around the threat model for the PHP 
interpreter.  If you assume that the PHP interpreter should be robust 
against attack from a malicious script (or its author), then a vast 
number of bugs can be considered a security vulnerability.

Even if you assume that the PHP interpreter - and scripts using it - 
should be robust only against attack from a remote user, it is often 
still difficult to draw the line between a script bug and an 
interpreter/extension bug.  Doing so requires interface documentation 
which specifies API preconditions and guarantees with greater precision 
than is usually available.

So whether or not security issues are being "silently fixed" depends a 
lot on your frame of reference.

Ideally any effort to improve the lack of transparency around PHP 
security would start by working with upstream to a) define a threat 
model and b) improve strictness of API/quality of code in the context of 
that model.  I wouldn't underestimate the time and effort that would 
require ;)

Using this list to track and share analysis of published issues is 
certainly helpful, but I'm not sure what more we can/should do 
independent of upstream to improve the situation - any specific ideas 
you had?

Regards, Joe

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