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To: gentoo-security@g.o
From: Ned Ludd <solar@g.o>
Subject: Re: Kernel Security + KISS
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2008 14:55:43 -0800
On Wed, 2008-02-20 at 13:59 -0500, Harlan Lieberman-Berg wrote:
> On Sunday 17 February 2008 23:12:35 Robert Buchholz wrote:
> > On Sunday, 17. February 2008, Eduardo Tongson wrote:
> > > What specific kernel knowledge is needed to get a Kernel advisory up
> > > and running ?
> >
> > Between becoming aware of a vulnerability in Linux and drafting an advisory
> > for one or all kernel sources comes the part where you review which
> > versions of which kernel sources are affected and unaffected. You also
> > need to pay attention to specifics of the added patchsets, which might
> > duplicate vulnerabilities.
> >
> > Parts of the job can indeed be done without Kernel and C knowledge, but
> > some cannot. So if we draft a new kernel security *team*, people without C
> > and kernel knowledge are helpful -- some others need to have it, though.
> >
> > Robert
> 
> To be honest, 99% of what is done in the kernel security team can be done with 
> no C knowledge at all.
> 
> I'm not an expert C person - far from it - but I eventually became the head of 
> Kernel Security until I retired a few months ago.
> 
> Most of it is bug handling.  The major problem is a social, not a technical 
> one.  Because of the manner in which our kernels are organized, a single 
> vulnerability involves checking upstream version numbers, coordinating them 
> into our downstream version numbers for all sources, checking to see if the 
> sources are effected, figuring out who to CC for the bugs, then harassing 
> them until they do it.
> 
> Unlike other security sources, any attempt to hardmask the package is shutdown 
> instantly.  The chaos that would result from a kernel hardmask, even one of 
> the lesser used ones, caused me to only successfully order one over my entire 
> career in Gentoo Kernsec... even though more around 30 would have been 
> needed.  It is not infrequently that bugs will last six months without any 
> action coming about them, and users are blissfully unaware.
> 
> I am happy to give my input as the former head of Kernel Security, but it is 
> my personal opinion that any advances in kernel security will require the 
> full cooperation of security, and letting the head of kernel security be able 
> to actually enforce threats, as that seems to be the only way bugs ever get 
> resolved.  Pleading didn't work - I tried.
> 
> -Harlan Lieberman-Berg
> Gentoo Developer Emeritus


Every word of what you said is painfully true. The only way to
accomplish this would be with an Iron Fist(fail) or a team of ~15 guys
who do nothing but patch and push new kernels and the PR that goes along
with them every few days.
-- 
Ned Ludd <solar@g.o>

-- 
gentoo-security@g.o mailing list


Replies:
Re: Kernel Security + KISS
-- Eduardo Tongson
References:
Kernel Security + KISS
-- Casey Link
Re: Kernel Security + KISS
-- Eduardo Tongson
Re: Kernel Security + KISS
-- Robert Buchholz
Re: Kernel Security + KISS
-- Harlan Lieberman-Berg
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Updated Jun 17, 2009

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