Openwall GNU/*/Linux - a small security-enhanced Linux distro for servers
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Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2011 06:43:08 -1000
From: akuster <akuster@...sta.com>
To: oss-security@...ts.openwall.com
CC: Solar Designer <solar@...nwall.com>
Subject: Re: Closed list

Alexander,

Thank you for taking the time to reply.

I can assure you that none of our customers ever got any advanced notice
of Embargoed issues. It would have been easier for me to just publicly
expose those issues internally than take the constant beating over not
disclosing Embargo information.

I do hope I did not "tax" any of the vendors or participants on the old
vendor sec list. My apologies if I did.

Mahalo,

Armin

On 04/09/2011 10:39 AM, Solar Designer wrote:
> On Fri, Apr 08, 2011 at 11:40:45AM -1000, akuster wrote:
>> Can I get a status on this? (+, -, Ack, Nack)
> 
> Postponed.  I'd like to see any support for you getting onto the Linux
> distros security contacts list, with reasoning, or/and any other
> suggestions on what to do in this case.  Josh - what do you think (as
> someone who advocated the setup of a vendor-sec replacement)?
> 
> Formally, you sort of qualify (you were on vendor-sec and presumably you
> have a Linux distro, although I failed to quickly find a way to see what
> kind of software your distro contains).  However, from your own
> statement (quoted below), it appears that we're not going to be able to
> see whether and how you make intended use of the advance notifications:
> 
>> Our advisories are via a paid subscription service so they are not public.
> 
> Obviously, this goes against the attempt at transparency, and also it
> means that we won't be able to evaluate your need to be on the list in
> the same way that we do/should/will for other vendors - e.g., we may
> re-check Frugalware and rPath in a few months from now to see if their
> security response has sufficiently improved to warrant the advance
> notifications to them or not, but what do we do for MontaVista? grant
> you an unconditional exception?
> 
> You also wrote:
> 
>> Our customers require vulnerabilities to be addressed in a timely manner.
> 
> So you have contractual relationships with your customers and you're
> going to use the advance notifications in your business.  Well, many of
> the more open Linux distros also have paying customers, but in your case
> this is all you have (if I understood you correctly).
> 
> For both kinds of distros, it is possible that the vendor will misuse
> the advance notifications to notify their customers before the issue is
> disclosed publicly (which normally happens on the CRD).  We ask and hope
> that vendors won't do this, but the risk is there.  Arguably, for a
> vendor that is not making their advisories and updates public, this
> temptation and thus the risk are higher.
> 
> Then, a closed Linux vendor like MontaVista, working for their paying
> customers only, is somewhat similar to an end-user of Linux who
> maintains their own Linux distro in-house.  Where do we draw the line?
> Many legal entities vs. one?  I doubt that this is going to work as
> desired (and I imagine that different people in here would want it to
> work differently anyway).  For example, a large enterprise is likely to
> use multiple legal entities.  Substantially same ownership?  This gets
> too tricky, non-technical, non-specific, and subject to change.
> 
> Clearly, we can't reasonably start to accept end-users of Linux merely
> because they build their own distro... or just claim to.
> 
> I understand that generalization and reductio ad absurdum may lead to a
> logical fallacy, however unfortunately we're setting a precedent here
> (one way or the other), so we may need to generalize and consider likely
> consequences of the precedent... unless we're happy to drop the list
> when it grows too large and maybe start anew, with stricter rules.
> 
> Finally, here's an additional aspect/concern.  The list is being setup
> as a hopefully better alternative to explicit CC lists.  "Members" of
> those lists are picked by whoever reports the issue - this person
> could be from one of the distros or it could be an external reporter.
> Would many (or any) of those people want to report to MontaVista
> specifically (along with other distros) or to closed Linux vendors in
> general?  I think not.  I think that having such vendors on the list
> would feel like a tax to many reporters, who would have to weigh the
> pros and cons of using the exploder (ease of use, an up-to-date list of
> contact persons, encryption, but extra vendors notified) vs. direct e-mail
> (excluding those who they don't want to or don't care to notify).
> I think that many would choose the latter (and end up excluding some of
> the open distros as well, even though they would not mind notifying
> them), thereby reducing the usefulness of the list.
> 
> And you also wrote:
> 
>> will revisit the wiki issue soon.
> 
> Since you pinged me about the status on your subscription, let me ping
> you about the status on the wiki updates as well. ;-)  Any progress?
> The pages to update with your info are:
> 
> http://oss-security.openwall.org/wiki/vendors
> http://oss-security.openwall.org/wiki/distro-patches
> 
> Please don't take any of the above personal.  I am just trying to
> provide a useful service to the community.  This is a thankless job, and
> I'd be happy if someone else does it - and does it better, or just
> differently to provide an alternative.  I'd be happy if the alternative
> wins, letting me happily shutdown the list.  (I've been privately asked
> to provide a hopefully more secure alternative to vendor-sec long before
> vendor-sec ceased to exist, but I really did not want to get Openwall
> into the mess, nor did I have time for it.  I only felt like I had to do
> it when it became clear that the lst.de folks would not host something
> like this anymore.)
> 
> In fact, MontaVista may host such a list as well, which would include
> MontaVista and more... but I would not expect many (maybe even most?)
> other distros and reporters to want to write to that list, which would
> kind of confirm the problem with having MontaVista on the list.
> 
> Please let me know if I misunderstood anything or if you have any
> suggestions.
> 
> Thanks,
> 
> Alexander

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