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Torvalds Criticizes Security Approaches Print E-mail
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Source: Sean Michael Kerner - Posted by Joe Shakespeare   
Security Linux creator Linus Torvalds had a few things to say this week about the way potential security issues are disclosed to fellow open sourcers. And it wasn't all good.

His comments came as part of a mailing list discussion among kernel developers about creating a security contact point for people to use when potential kernel security issues arise.

According to kernel developer Chris Wright,who began the discussion thread, kernel security issues are currently discussed in multiple locations, including the Linux Kernel mailing list, Kernel maintainers and the limited access vendor-sec mailing list. Membership to the vendor-sec mailing list is decided by consensus among existing members, which includes most of the major Linux distributions. In addition, security advisories discussed on the list are embargoed so vendors have time to prepare fixes before full public disclosure.

Torvalds responded that the idea of a central contact point sounded like a good thing to have, as is maintaining limited access. However, he said he is strongly opposed to an embargo on the list for a variety of reasons.

"I'd be very happy with a 'private' list in the sense that people wouldn't feel pressured to fix it that day," Torvalds wrote. "And I think it makes sense to have some policy where we don't necessarily make them public immediately in order to give people the time to discuss them. But it should be very clear that no entity (neither the reporter nor any particular vendor/developer) can require silence, or ask for anything more than 'let's find the right solution.'

"Otherwise it just becomes politics: You end up having security firms that want a certain date because they want a PR blitz, and you end up having vendors who want a certain date because they have release issues," he said.

"The only thing I really care about is that we can serve the people who depend on us by giving them source code that is as bug-free and secure as we can make it," Torvalds explained. "If that means that we should make the changelogs be a bit less verbose because we don't want to steal the thunder from the people who found the problem, that's fine."

Read this full article at Sean Michael Kerner

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