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Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2017 22:02:40 +0200
From: Solar Designer <>
Subject: accepting new members to (linux-)distros lists


I have finally specified the criteria for accepting new members to the
(linux-)distros lists.  I intend to process the requests, which are to
be posted to new threads each (one thread per distro wanting to join).

I put quite some thought (and experience so far) into these criteria,
but I welcome any comments and suggested changes this community might
have.  The list of criteria will be maintained on the wiki:

Currently, to be eligible for (linux-)distros list membership, your
distro should:

1. Be an actively maintained Unix-like operating system distro with
substantial use of Open Source components

2. Have a userbase not limited to your own organization

3. Have a publicly verifiable track record, dating back at least 1 year
and continuing to present day, of fixing security issues (including some
that had been handled on (linux-)distros, meaning that membership would
have been relevant to you) and releasing the fixes within 10 days (and
preferably much less than that) of the issues being made public (if it
takes you ages to fix an issue, your users wouldn't substantially
benefit from the additional time, often around 7 days and sometimes up
to 14 days, that list membership could give you)

4. Not be (only) downstream or a rebuild of another distro (or else we
need convincing additional justification of how the list membership
would enable you to release fixes sooner, presumably not relying on the
upstream distro having released their fixes first?)

5. Be a participant and preferably an active contributor in relevant
public communities (most notably, if you're not watching for issues
being made public on oss-security, which are a superset of those that
had been handled on (linux-)distros, then there's no valid reason for
you to be on (linux-)distros)

6. Accept the list policy:
(also quoted below)

7. Be able and willing to contribute back, preferably in specific ways
announced in advance (so that you're responsible for a specific area and
so that we know what to expect from which member), and demonstrate
actual contributions once you've been a member for a while:
(also quoted below)

8. Be able and willing to handle PGP-encrypted e-mail

9. Have someone already on the private list, or at least someone else
who has been active on oss-security for years but is not affiliated with
your distro nor your organization, vouch for at least one of the people
requesting membership on behalf of your distro (then that one
vouched-for person will be able to vouch for others on your team, in
case you'd like multiple people subscribed)

Membership requests should provide answers per each of these criteria.

I came up with many current tasks/roles that a new or existing member
could usefully help with, thereby contributing to the team effort.
Currently the wiki page lists a total of 18 such items: 5 technical and
13 administrative.  I'd prefer that new membership requests include
specifics on what the new member will contribute - this can be work on
some of these 18 items or/and something else.

Right now, most of these things I listed are everyone's and thus no
one's responsibility (and they often fall back on me as list admin).
I want this to change.  Ideally, we'd list specific distros for each one
of these tasks/roles... and if something required is not done or goes
wrong per one of those roles, we'll ask them to explain why and correct
that for further occasions.  This will also serve to verify that they're
still active and paying attention, replacing my responsiveness tests.

Here are the current tasks/roles to choose from or/and add to:

Technical (in arbitrary order):

1. Propose (other) ways to fix, work around, or mitigate the reported

2. Develop and share fixes, workarounds, or mitigations

3. Review and/or test the proposed patches and point out potential
issues with them (such as incomplete fixes for the originally reported
issues, additional issues you might notice, and newly introduced bugs)

4. Generalize the reported issues to see if other closely related issues
exist (e.g., if a bug is reported against one implementation of X, see
if a similar bug exists in another implementation of X and inform the
list of either result)

5. Produce and share well-reasoned estimates for the time required to
handle the issues under embargo (such as to (re)negotiate the public
disclosure date and/or to choose between the different ways to handle an

Administrative (roughly in chronological order, although many of these
activities overlap):

1. Promptly review new issue reports for meeting the list's requirements
and confirm receipt of the report and, when necessary, inform the
reporter of any issues with their report (e.g., obviously not actionable
by the distros) and request and/or propose any required yet missing
information (most notably, a tentative public disclosure date)

2. See if the proposed public disclosure date is within list policy, and
if not then insist on getting this corrected and propose a suitable
earlier date

3. Evaluate if the issue (or one of the issues) is effectively already
public (e.g., a fix is committed upstream with a descriptive message)
or/and is low severity and thus the report (or its portion pertaining to
the issue) should be made public right away for one or both of these
reasons, get a few other list members to confirm this understanding, and
if there are no objections then communicate this strong preference to
the reporter

4. Evaluate relevance to other parties, such as the upstream, other
affected distros (not present here), and other Open Source projects, see
if the report mentions notifying any of these, communicate your findings
and possible concerns to the reporter and the list, and stay on top of
the resulting discussion until a decision is made on who else to
possibly notify (or not) and any such notifications are in fact made

5. If multiple issues are reported at once, see if any of them can
reasonably be made public sooner than the rest, and if so help untangle
them and stay on top of their disclosure process

6. If CVE IDs are requested, the report is valid, and you're a CNA,
assign those (requesting any required information from the reporter

7. If the report does not mention CVE IDs (neither requests nor provides
them, and doesn't mention the reporter having requested them elsewhere),
yet the report is valid and it looks like distros will need CVE IDs, and
you're a CNA, ask the reporter whether they have already requested CVE
IDs elsewhere, then assign those if they haven't been requested

8. Stay on top of issues to ensure progress is being made, remind others
when there's no apparent progress, as well as when the public disclosure
date for an issue is approaching and when it's finally reached (unless
the reporter beats you to it by making their mandatory posting to
oss-security first)

9. Monitor relevant public channels (mailing lists, code repositories,
etc.) and inform the reporter and the list in case an issue is made
public prematurely (that is, leaks or is independently rediscovered)

10. Make sure the mandatory oss-security posting is made promptly and is
sufficiently detailed, and remind the reporter if not

11. If exploit(s) were shared on the list, make sure that either they're
included in the oss-security posting along with the issue detail or the
posting includes an announcement of planned later posting of the
exploits (with the delay being within list policy), and in the latter
case also make sure that the later posting is in fact made as planned,
and remind the reporter if not

12. Help evaluate new (linux-)distros list membership requests per the
current criteria (participating in the corresponding oss-security

13. Vouch for people wanting to join in on behalf of a new distro member
as long as you are confident of their trustworthiness, expected proper
use of the list, and contributions

Finally, I also came up with specific policy on handling of embargoed
information.  Most of this was taken for granted so far, and this worked
well, but there were a few gray areas.  The currently proposed policy,
which list members have to agree to, is as follows:

Aside from your participation in discussions with the reporter and on
the (linux-)distros lists (including possibly continuing to CC other
prior recipients of the information), the information you receive
through the (linux-)distros lists must not be made public, shared, nor
even hinted at anywhere beyond the need-to-know within your distro's
team, until the agreed upon public disclosure date/time, the reporter's
explicit approval, or substantially complete publication by others.

Neither you nor others you inform may use the information for anything
other than getting the issue fixed for your distro's users and, only in
rare extreme cases, for deployment of maximally non-revealing changes to
maintain security of your distro's infrastructure most essential to the
distro users' security in face of the security issue being dealt with.
The need-to-know condition is met only if the person needs to
participate in one of these two activities.

Before you share the information with others within your distro's team
based on their need-to-know, you need to get these people to agree to
these same terms, optionally (and preferably) with the additional
limitation that they may not share the information further (not even
with others on the team, not even based on need-to-know) without
explicit approval by you or another individual directly subscribed to
the (linux-)distros list for your distro.

In the unfortunate event that you happen to share or/and use the
information beyond what's allowed by this policy (thus, creating a
leak), you must urgently (right after you became aware of the leak)
inform the reporter and the (linux-)distros (sub-)list you had received
the information from of the leak and of its extent (if readily known).
You must also conduct an internal investigation of the leak, and inform
the reporter and the list of the exact extent of the leak (to the best
of your knowledge) and of measures (intended to be) taken to prevent
such leaks going forward.

The above is the main policy definition, but in case you prefer the
Traffic Light Protocol, in its terms this is TLP:AMBER with the
need-to-know condition as specified above and with the following
additional limitation on sharing: you must not share the information
with anyone outside of your distro's team, including not within the rest
of your organization nor with your clients or customers, including not
in any derived form (not even through delivering or deploying
undocumented fixes).  Once the embargo is over, this is TLP:WHITE.

I am sorry for the long message.  I quote these pieces from the wiki in
here to allow for quoting in a possible discussion thread - such as for
distros (both those already on the private lists and not) to volunteer
for specific roles (please do!)


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