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Date: Sat, 23 Sep 2017 07:11:36 -0700
From: Anthony Liguori <anthony@...emonkey.ws>
To: oss-security@...ts.openwall.com
Subject: Re: Why send bugs embargoed to distros?

On Sat, Sep 23, 2017 at 6:56 AM, Levente Polyak
<levente@...entepolyak.net> wrote:
> On 09/23/2017 01:44 PM, Hanno Böck wrote:
>> My understanding is that the purpose of the distros list is that
>> updates can be prepared so after a disclosure the time between "vuln is
>> known" and "patch is available" is short.
>> However from all I can see this largely didn't happen.
>>
>
> [...]
>
>> The only distro I'm aware of that prepared packages and pushed them
>> right after disclosure is Gentoo.
>>
>
> For Arch Linux I tested the patch beforehand and prepared the changed
> buildscripts locally. The final build/release/publication process was
> invoked just minutes after the public disclosure and the final artifact
> was signed and hit the repository just 20 minutes after the disclosure.
> The advisories were sent ~4 hours later once gone through a
> peer-reviewing process (yes this could have been done even faster).

Just as an FYI, we (Amazon Linux AMI) also did all of the preparation
during the embargo period published shortly after embargo lift.

> But that's not actually the primary goal of your mail, so lets focus on
> answering the more important questions below from my personal point of view.
>
>> All of this makes me wonder if the distros list serves its purpose.
>>
>> I'd be curious to hear:
>>
>> a) if any people felt that pre-disclosure of optionsbleed was helpful
>> to them and in which way (after all - even if it only helps minor
>> distros and major distros ignore it it may still be a good thing).

The pre-disclosure period gives us an opportunity to take the time to
analyze the problem and run through testing of the reported fix.  It's
super valuable for us.

Regards,

Anthony Liguori

>> b) if people think that they'd usually prepare a fixed package, however
>> they didn't consider optionsbleed important enough. (Naturally I
>> probably have a bias seeing my findings as more important as other
>> people, but I could live with that.)
>>
>
> I think everyone should have come to the conclusion that this is
> potentially pretty bad for a shared hosting environment or anywhere
> where non-privileged users are able to fulfill the needed pre-requirements.
>
> Anyway, my personal believe is that the list is important, useful and in
> fact definitively helps preparing coordinated releases and doing all
> needed work before a final fixed package can be deployed for security
> relevant fixes.
> Most of the time the provided information (at least for me :P) helps to
> analyze and understand the underlying problem and its impact beforehand.
> If patches are available (like for optionbleed) those can be tested and
> possibly slightly adjusted or discussed when not fitting a specific
> version/branch.
> All this is part of the whole process before a problem is
> analyzed/understood, prioritized, build-requirements adjusted, artifacts
> prepared and finally released so being able to do the first steps in a
> coordinated way definitively helps.
>
> However, I indeed see your point and understand the frustration and the
> reason for your mail demonstrated via the optionbleed case. I neither
> say nor believe that every entity did perfectly to provide the users
> with fixed packages as that's obviously not the case.
> What I try to point out is that the list is IMO far from being useless
> and indeed serves its purpose. I think blaming or questioning the list
> itself is the wrong conclusion. Instead every entity on its own should
> rethink their process, prioritization and possibly lack of resources (I
> include myself to do this). This is not meant to anyone as blaming but
> we all share the goal to protect the users as good as possible and I
> believe that the distros list aids in doing so.
>
> cheers,
> Levente

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