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Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2014 13:32:09 -0800
From: Seth Arnold <>
Subject: Re: RE: [security-vendor] Re: Fuzzing
 findings (and maybe CVE requests) - Image/GraphicsMagick, elfutils, GIMP,
 gdk-pixbuf, file, ndisasm, less

On Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 03:10:58PM +0000, Radzykewycz, T (Radzy) wrote:
> There's no guarantee about anything being "bug free".  Even
> certification by NIAP doesn't guarantee that it's bug free.  Nor that
> it's secure.  But it does make it relatively more likely to have fewer
> bugs and be more secure.  Same with OSS tool fuzzing and some kind of
> database indicating the level of fuzzing that has happened on them.
> If I were a Linux distro maintainer, looking at packages to include, I
> would appreciate this information.  (For that matter, I'd appreciate it
> for my own use, though that's less relevant.)
> If there is a distro maintainer on this list, please chime in.

Part of my job at Canonical is reviewing packages before the Ubuntu
security team commits to supporting the packages. (Ubuntu "main" receives
official security support; "universe" receives community support.)

The reviews are very short; typically they take me a day to read the code
and an hour or so to provide a report for context for the decision. More
complicated projects may take a bit longer and only the smallest of
projects can be done in an hour or two.

Because there's so little time for each one, automated assistance is
wonderful. I look for compiler warnings, run some static analysis checks,
and use a large pile of greps that help find difficult or troublesome
pieces of code. I'd like to have more automated assistence.

We're not looking for bug-free software -- that's unlikely -- so we're
looking for software that's professionally developed and feels like it
won't be an undue maintenance burden.

Adding a fuzzer or two to the process might be worthwhile; the downside is
that most fuzzers seem to require a certain amount of preperation work
before they start giving good results, and depending upon the program, a
fuzzer may not reliably represent the attack surfaces available. (Consider
trying to fuzz e.g. openssh or nginx.) I don't think it'd be easy to

Getting AFL to work with every package suggested for Ubuntu main is
probably too much work. Getting zzuf to work might be easier but may not
provide as comprehensive results. zzuf would at least help on projects
written in languages where static analysis tools are lacking or not yet
in our auditing framework.

The results of a fuzzing project would not greatly influence our
decision to support a package. I don't believe surviving a fuzzer is the
best proxy for code quality, though it would be nice to have more
information when making a decision to support a package.

Of course, if someone were to run a fuzzing project, the results would
doubtless be valuable for everyone, assuming you could get buy-in from
upstreams to help prepare patches or at least accept them.


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