Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2021 11:02:11 -0400 From: "David A. Wheeler" <dwheeler@...eeler.com> To: oss-security@...ts.openwall.com Subject: Re: Malicious commits to Linux kernel as part of university study Peter Bex: > The university of Minnesota has been banned from making any commits to > the Linux kernel after it was found out they'd been submitting bogus > patches to the LKML to knowingly introduce security issues: > https://lore.kernel.org/linux-nfs/YH%2FfM%2FTsbmcZzwnX@kroah.com/ I support research, but I personally think this work goes way beyond any ethical boundaries. While I don’t know if it’s *illegal* (I’m not a lawyer!), it seems clear to me that these U of MN researchers were conducting experiments on people without their prior consent. In the US, experiments on people without their consent is generally forbidden. These researchers did their experiment *before* even consulting their Institutional Review Board (IRB), a *huge* no-no, and then their IRB approved the non-consensual experiment anyway (!!!). GregKH’s response to this attack from the U of MN here: https://lore.kernel.org/linux-nfs/YH%2FfM%2FTsbmcZzwnX@kroah.com/ which reads in part: > Our community welcomes developers who wish to help and enhance Linux. > That is NOT what you are attempting to do here... > Our community does not appreciate being experimented on... More discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26887670 Peter Bex: > I don't know the scope of this research, but it could involve other OSS > projects, now or in the future, as well. Hence this e-mail. If you feel > it's spam or needless drama, feel free to ignore. Since the researchers failed to get prior consent from the people being experimented on, I don’t think we can presume ethical behavior. I have no faith that these researchers limited their attacks. I hope they did, but I think we can take more proactive measures. I used the following shell command to search for potentially-concerning commits in git: git shortlog --summary --numbered --email | grep -E '(wu000273|kjlu|@....edu)' I recommend other OSS projects do something similar, just in case, unless we can have better verification that no other OSS projects were attacked. I welcome improved methods to find concerning proposals or patches; this is just a quick attempt to detect potential damage. On Thu, Apr 22, 2021 at 11:44:49AM +0200, Albert Veli wrote: > Supply chain attacks are a real threat to open source projects. I completely agree. My work title is “Director of Open Source Supply Chain Security”, so I guess I’d have to say that :-), but I agree anyway :-). *ALL* OSS projects should review proposed changes for potential security issues, and harden their software & supply chain against attacks. I also welcome research to make that better! But we don’t need researchers who perform attacks on production systems without authorization, or perform attacks on developers without their consent. --- David A. Wheeler
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