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Date:  Fri, 18 Dec 2009 15:08:01 -0600
From:  Raphael Geissert <>
Subject:  Re: CVE request: php5: multiple issues

Joe Orton wrote:

> On Thu, Dec 17, 2009 at 01:23:33PM -0600, Raphael Geissert wrote:
>> I think a cross-vendor security support and tracking effort for php5
>> is needed. The number of issues silently fixed are a continuous risk,
>> leaving users exposed. What does the others think?
> The problem we face is the ambiguity around the threat model for the PHP
> interpreter.  If you assume that the PHP interpreter should be robust
> against attack from a malicious script (or its author), then a vast
> number of bugs can be considered a security vulnerability.

I believe the PHP interpreter should be robust against malicious scripts
when they can expose or put other users in risk.

> So whether or not security issues are being "silently fixed" depends a
> lot on your frame of reference.
> Ideally any effort to improve the lack of transparency around PHP
> security would start by working with upstream to a) define a threat
> model and b) improve strictness of API/quality of code in the context of
> that model.  I wouldn't underestimate the time and effort that would
> require ;)

You are right, making an effort to try to work with upstream to draw the
line between what is and what is not a security issue should be the first

> Using this list to track and share analysis of published issues is
> certainly helpful, but I'm not sure what more we can/should do
> independent of upstream to improve the situation - any specific ideas
> you had?

We could encourage more people to check time by time the changes made to
upstream code if the collaboration attempt fails, so that possible issues
are analysed.
Another, more important I think, idea is to share the patches used to fix
the issues. Some issues can be fixed by the same code change made by
upstream, but others require more backporting work. There are also times
that finding the minimum changes required to fix the issue is very time

Does that sound reasonable?

By the way, who is supporting what PHP versions and for how long? what
version do you plan to include on the next release?

Raphael Geissert - Debian Developer -

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