Re: FreeBSD Security Advisory FreeBSD-SA-06:25.kmem

In response to Colin Percival <cperciva@xxxxxxxxxxx>:

FreeBSD Security Advisories wrote:
FreeBSD-SA-06:25.kmem Security Advisory
The FreeBSD Project
III. Impact

A user in the "operator" group can read the contents of kernel memory.
Such memory might contain sensitive information, such as portions of
the file cache or terminal buffers. This information might be directly
useful, or it might be leveraged to obtain elevated privileges in some
way; for example, a terminal buffer might include a user-entered

For what it's worth, there was a lot of debate about whether this deserved
an advisory: Members of the operator group are allowed (by default, at least)
to read raw disk devices, so being able to read kernel memory really isn't
very much of a privilege escalation. In the end I decided to go ahead with
this advisory largely because we were already planning on issuing an advisory
this week (for a far more serious issue in GNU tar), but if a similar issue
arises next month, we might decide not to bother with an advisory.

I'd be interested to hear opinions from the FreeBSD community about whether
this sort of issue is one which anyone really cares about.

It seems as if something is shifting in the world. There seem to be a lot
more sources of "security advisories" now than just a few years ago, and
some of them pretty sketch as far as how much I trust them. It seems as
if there's some marketing potential to claiming that your company was the
first to find a security problem, which means some folks are willing to
announce "security problems" even when they aren't, because their marketing
department sees value in it.

To follow that prelude, perhaps it would be worthwhile to have a separate
type of mailing -- "security-related bugs" or some such, that lists
bugs and other issues that have security implications but the FreeBSD
team doesn't quite see as as a security flaw. That firewire thing is
a strong candidate, and there have been a few others come up over the
last few weeks.

This would allow folks who trip across "Jonny-come-lately-security-company
finds a serious bug in the FreeBSD kernel" advisories to have a place on
the FreeBSD web site to see an official explanation of why the FreeBSD
team does not see said bug as a security concern.

I figure, that by the time the sec team has determined that it doesn't
warrant an advisory, they've already done enough work that they can
easily publish a quick explanation of why it isn't -- but I've never
worked with the security team, so I could be misjudging.

Just some brainstorming.

Bill Moran
Collaborative Fusion Inc.
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