Linux kernel team rejects University of Minnesota researchers’ apology


Enlarge / Don’t anger the penguin, for it’s lengthy of reminiscence and gradual to forgive.

Final week, senior Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman announced that every one Linux patches coming from the College of Minnesota can be summarily rejected by default.

This coverage change got here on account of three College of Minnesota researchers—Qiushi Wu, Kangjie Lu, and Aditya Pakki—embarking on a program to check the Linux kernel dev group’s resistance to what the group referred to as “Hypocrite Commits.”

Testing the Linux kernel group

The trio’s scheme concerned first discovering three easy-to-fix, low-priority bugs within the Linux kernel after which fixing them—however fixing them in such a method as to finish what the UMN researchers referred to as an “immature vulnerability”:

We make use of a static-analysis software to determine three “immature vulnerabilities” in Linux, and correspondingly detect three actual minor bugs which can be presupposed to be mounted. The “immature vulnerabilities” aren’t actual vulnerabilities as a result of one situation (reminiscent of a use of a freed object) continues to be lacking […] We assemble three incorrect or incomplete minor patches to repair the three bugs. These minor patches nevertheless introduce the lacking circumstances of the “immature vulnerabilities.”

The three researchers would then electronic mail their Trojan-horse patches to Linux kernel maintainers, to see if the maintainers detected the extra significant issue the researchers had launched in the middle of fixing a minor bug. As soon as the maintainers responded to the submitted patch, the UMN researchers identified the bug launched by their patch and provided a “correct” patch—one which didn’t introduce a newly exploitable situation—as a replacement.

Lu, Wu, and Pakki revealed their findings in February on the forty second IEEE Symposium on Safety and Privateness.

Preliminary response

Final week, senior Linux kernel dev Greg Kroah-Hartman reverted 68 patches submitted by people with umn.edu electronic mail addresses in response to those “Hypocrite Commits.” Together with reverting these 68 current patches, Kroah-Hartman introduced a “default reject” coverage for future patches coming from anybody with an @umn.edu handle.

Kroah-Hartman went on to permit exceptions for such future patches if “they supply proof and you’ll confirm it,” however he went on to ask “actually, why waste your time doing that additional work?”

The College of Minnesota Division of Laptop Science and Engineering responded to the ban by instantly “droop[ing] this line of analysis,” promising to analyze the researchers’ technique—and the method by which it was accredited.

Apology not accepted

This Saturday, the UMN analysis group apologized to the Linux group through an open letter posted to the Linux Kernel Mailing Checklist. The almost 800-word open letter comes throughout as extra “wait, you do not perceive” than apology:

We simply need you to know that we might by no means deliberately damage the Linux kernel group and by no means introduce safety vulnerabilities. Our work was performed with one of the best of intentions and is all about discovering and fixing safety vulnerabilities.

The “hypocrite commits” work was carried out in August 2020; it aimed to enhance the safety of the patching course of in Linux. As a part of the challenge, we studied potential points with the patching means of Linux, together with causes of the problems and options for addressing them.

Kroah-Hartman acknowledged the letter Sunday however was clearly lower than impressed:

As , the Linux Basis and the Linux Basis’s Technical Advisory Board submitted a letter on Friday to your College outlining the particular actions which must occur to ensure that your group, and your College, to have the ability to work to regain the belief of the Linux kernel group.

Till these actions are taken, we would not have something additional to debate about this concern.

We have no idea right now what actions, precisely, Kroah-Hartman and the Linux Basis require from the group and its college.



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