Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 15th Apr 2009 09:54 UTC
Bugs & Viruses Whenever the Conficker worm comes up here on OSNews (or any other site for that matter) there are always a number of people who point their fingers towards Redmond, stating that it's their fault Conifcker got out. While Microsoft has had some pretty lax responses to security threats in the past, it handled the whole Conficker thing perfectly, releasing a patch even before Conficker existed, and pushing it through Windows Update. In any case, this made me wonder about Linux distributions and security. What if a big security hole pops up in a Linux distribution - who will the Redmond-finger-pointing people hold responsible?
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Surtur
Member since:
2009-04-15

There was a SSH vulnerability discovered, at one point, I believe it was in Debian, whereby a developer had got "over-zealous" and had "cleaned up" some initialisation code in SSH. This turned out to be the wrong thing to do, because it made the keys less random than they should have been. Because there was no actual error of operation, it took a number of years before this was noticed.


This is not true. It was not a SSH vulerability but a problem in OpenSSL which therefore *also* influenced OpenSSH. Here is a link: http://www.metasploit.com/users/hdm/tools/debian-openssl/

Although many servers and client computers did have this error, I know of not one case where a machine was exploited because of it {EDIT and CORRECTION: see below, more serious breaches than this have occurred at other times, and some systems were compromised}. Remember, all that this error did was reduce the randomness of ssh keys ... meaning that instead of six thousand years for a brute force attack to crack the key, it would instead take only one thousand ... or something like that.


All the entropy besides the PIDs (and even those are mainly predictable) was thrown out of OpenSSL. To quote an article from "2600" (Volume Twenty-Five, Number Two, Page 52f) that is 1.9 x 10^-32 less keys than before (0.0 thirty-one zeros, 19). To put it in other figures all the remaining hashs (for one hardware plattform) took now 40MB of space instead of 3.7 x 10^32 gigabyte.

But don't get me wrong I use UNIX-like operating systems and Debian is by far my favorite Linux distribution, even after this incident.

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