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Date: Tue, 05 Mar 2013 08:11:21 +0100
From: Andreas Ericsson <>
CC: Eric Lacombe <>
Subject: Re: handling of Linux kernel vulnerabilities

Hi list. I work for a sub-vendor who ships one of the major distros as
part of an appliance. Just thought I'd chip in with my €0.02.

On 03/04/2013 10:12 PM, Eric Lacombe wrote:
> Hi,
> Le lundi 4 mars 2013 11:48:58, Greg KH a écrit :
>> On Sun, Mar 03, 2013 at 10:39:30PM -0500, Michael Gilbert wrote:
>>> I was getting encouraged by the recent anger-centric posts, the "what
>>> is it that we're supposed to do better?" ones. That gave me some
>>> encouragement that there was the possibility of positive change, but
>>> the "we're not going to make users more unsafe by telling them about
>>> issues affecting them" is a persistence of the denial state.  That
>>> logic completely violates the known idiom that knowledge is power:
>>> give users the knowledge that they need to protect themselves, and
>>> they will; starve them of that knowledge, and they remain vulnerable.
>> That's a load of crap.
>> Seriously, you know it only benefits the "bad guys" if I were to say,
>> "This patch just went into Linus's tree that fixes a security problem
>> that you can exploit in this manner".  No user would have a chance to
>> fix their systems before the vulnerability was added to the
>> "ultra-sploit" tool and everyone would have their systems trashed.
> I think there's a difference between disclosing the vulnerability and
> disclosing it with a related exploit. The first one allows to fulfill what
> Michael Gilbert explains without the consequences that you focus on.

Writing and testing an exploit for a "usable" security issue takes all of
an hour or two. Coming up with a proper patch, testing it, packaging it
and releasing it to users takes at least a week, and I personally think
that's erring optimistically.

For parts of a system that really *can't* be disabled without making the
system completely unusable (kernel, glibc and to some extent ssh tools),
I think a longer shush-time than "time of commit" is suitable for full
disclosure announcement. Note "announcement" here. People who're really
interested can ofcourse see in the patch and commit-message how the bug
can be triggered.

Otoh, where workarounds can be applied that prevent the bug from happening
the issue, I believe protection information should be released immediately.
Writing exploits (or test-cases) from workaround information is a *lot*
harder than from full disclosure listings.

Andreas Ericsson         
OP5 AB                   
Tel: +46 8-230225                  Fax: +46 8-230231

Considering the successes of the wars on alcohol, poverty, drugs and
terror, I think we should give some serious thought to declaring war
on peace.

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