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Re: [Xen-devel] Security discussion: Summary of proposals and criteria (was Re: Security vulnerability process, and CVE-2012-0217)

On 07/09/12 11:23, George Dunlap wrote:
> On Sun, Jul 8, 2012 at 8:30 AM, Joanna Rutkowska
> <joanna@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>> On 07/06/12 18:46, George Dunlap wrote:
>>> Another question has to do with robustness of enforcement.  If there
>>> is a strong incentive for people on the list to break the rules
>>> ("moral hazard"), then we need to import a whole legal framework: how
>>> do we detect breaking the rules?
>> 1) Realizing that somebody released patched binaries during embargo is
>> simple.
>> 2) Detecting that somebody patched their systems might be harder (after
>> all we're not going to perform pen-tests on EC2 systems and the likes,
>> right? ;)
>> 3) Detecting that somebody sold info about the bug/exploit to the black
>> market might be prohibitively hard -- the only thing that might
>> *somehow* help is the use of some smart water marking (e.g. of the proof
>> of concept code). Of course, if a person fully understands the
>> bug/exploit, she would be able to recreate it from scratch herself, and
>> then sell to the bad guys.
>> On the other hand, the #2 above, seems like the least problematic for
>> the safety of others. After all if the proverbial AWS folks patch their
>> systems quietly, it doesn't immediately give others (the bad guys)
>> access to the info about the bug, because nobody external (normally
>> should) have access to the (running) binaries on the providers machines.
>> So, perhaps #3 is of biggest concern to the community.
> The reason I brought up the issue above didn't so much have to do with
> the risk of people leaking it, but to help evaluate the proposals that
> had "No roll-out is allowed until the patch date".  There's probably
> little incentive or ability for the average programmer / IT person to
> sell the bug on the black market.  (I have no idea how I would begin
> to go about it, for instance.)

If you're into security industry (going to conferences, etc) you
certainly know the right people who would be delight to buy exploits
from you, believe me ;) Probably most Xen developers don't fit into this
crowd, true, but then again, do you think it would be so hard for an
interested organization to approach one of the Xen developers on the
pre-disclousure list? How many would resist if they had a chance to cash
in some 7-figure number for this (I read in the press that hot
bugs/exploits sell for this amount actually)? US gov apparently invested
lots of money in creating stuxnet and flame (and probably other malware)
-- don't you think the Chinese would not be interested in owning some of
the AWS machines in return?

> However, if we had a "no roll-out
> during embargo period" rule, there would be a huge incentive for
> people or organizations to "cheat" by rolling it out early, giving
> them an advantage over those either not on the list, and those on the
> list but not cheating.  So from a security perspective, of course #3
> is the most important; but as a community project with a wide range of
> users (many of whom are both small and active), #2 is what I am most
> concerned about.

Ah, I see, so you're concerned about an unfair advantage that a large
Xen-based service company (that happens to be on the list) might have
over the others? Sure, I agree.

But then, on the other hand, it seems to me that an attack against some
large service provider, such as AWS, might be quite fatal in
consequences. So, letting them patch their systems (especially given the
fact that this shouldn't "leak out" info about the bug to the world)
might be a reasonable compromise... As a normal citizen I think  I would
sleep better knowing that important players can patch before the others.

> BTW, Joanna, do you have any opinions / input on the argument that
> disclosure does not significantly increase risk, because patched
> systems means that the vulnerability has reduced value to black hats?

I'm not quite sure if I understand this question? Can you elaborate?


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