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Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2014 02:44:27 -0500
From: Robert Watson <>
Subject: Re: Fuzzing findings (and maybe CVE requests) -
 Image/GraphicsMagick, elfutils, GIMP, gdk-pixbuf, file, ndisasm, less

30+ years of programming Unix/Linux systems has taught me that old tools
(like old cars) usually work very well for the intended purpose,​ but are
far from as safe to use as we expect nowadays.

All of these tools were written years ago for use in an environment where
there was no such thing as "anonymous access." Yes, bad practices like
shared logins were common. But there was still always someone to hold

Most of the authors of these tools are long since retired and/or deceased.
Thus, someone new must be found with sufficient interest to learn the
software and correct these fuzzing-uncovered problems.

It would be far more beneficial to "adopt" one of these "orphaned" tools
that you'd like use. Then fork a new version, or an entirely new tool for
the intended function, that incorporates the safety standards we expect.

If every car on the road had to be kept upgraded to current safety
standards, only the well-off would own cars.

*Trust in truth keeps hope alive*

*     iCare for AffordableCare

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On Sun, Nov 16, 2014 at 6:10 PM, Robert Święcki <> wrote:

> 2014-11-16 21:43 GMT+01:00 Michal Zalewski <>:
> >> However, even if tools like file/ndisasm/gimp/readelf can be used by
> >> many (w/o strong system isolation boundaries) to analyze untrusted
> >> inputs (for reverse engineering, malware analysis and similar
> >> purposes) - I'd simply put a blame on those users
> >
> > Well, it's always the easy option, but keep in mind that there are
> > countless tutorials that tell people to use 'file' or 'strings' to
> > examine sketchy file, or use tools such as objdump to do hobby
> > forensics.
> >
> > We can blame the authors of the tutorials - but it goes back to a
> > fairly fundamental problem: the use cases aren't completely crazy
> > (nothing *fundamentally* wrong in using 'strings' on a file you don't
> > trust, right?), and their unsafe design is a fairly counterintuitive
> > property to laypeople and many experts alike [*].
> >
> > So, for high-profile tools used in ways that are sort of plausible and
> > probably common, we may just need to try & make them robust.
> Agreed.
> > (But of
> > course, I'd be pragmatic in drawing the line: the Mayhem fuzzing thing
> > went completely overboard.)
> --
> Robert Święcki

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