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Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2021 10:47:06 -0600 (MDT)
From: Ariadne Conill <>
To: Open Source Security <>
Subject: Re: Malicious commits to Linux kernel as part of
 university study


On Thu, 22 Apr 2021, Peter Bex wrote:

> Hi all,
> Probably a lot of you know this already but I consider it serious enough
> to point out to the OSS security community at large.
> 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:

While it's disappointing that they chose to go about this experiment in a 
way that violated research ethics, it does raise a point that has been 
discussed in the community but frequently shrugged off: the possibility 
that a bad actor might submit legitimate patches until such time that 
they can sneak insecure code through review.

Hopefully a positive of this research is that people will be more likely 
to think about the possibilities of insecure code being walked through the 
front door.

With that said, I think UMN should fire Kangjie Lu.  The approach they 
used in their experiment is literally a textbook example of how *not* to 
do this kind of research.  At least, that's not what *I* remember from 
university.  I suspect they will likely fire Kangjie Lu as a result of 
their investigation.

> They also published a paper:
> 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.

It seems likely.  However, we may not ever know for sure, because the 
paper says they submitted the patches using a random Gmail account instead 
of their UMN email accounts.  I assume any other attempts they made to 
troll other FOSS projects would have come from random Gmail throwaway 
accounts as well.


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