Home Business IT Open Source Debian patches Apache bug, upstream yet to react

The Debian GNU/Linux project has issued a patch so its users can fix the denial of service vulnerability in the open source Apache httpd server that was announced by the Apache Software Foundation last week.

An exploit for this vulnerability is available in the wild and has been observed to have been used, according to the ASF's original announcement, which said a fix would be issued within 48 hours. That was last Thursday.

It must be mentioned here that, in its advisory, the ASF had mentioned several workarounds to mitigate against the bug being exploited. The Debian patch is based on these workarounds.

The ASF did not respond to a request for comment from iTWire.

If a web server running Apache is sent a large number of requests for overlapping byte regions of a single file download, that server would run out of memory and be rendered unable to do its job.

The Debian advisory, issued by Stefan Fritsch on behalf of the security team, said the fix issued patched both the problem with Range header and also an older bug.

Debian has a number of streams of development and a fix for the testing stream is yet to be issued. All other streams have been patched.

Once the upstream developers issue a fix, it normally takes at least 12 to 24 hours for each Linux distribution to issue its own specific fix; the same applies to other platforms.

Rick Moen, a seasoned UNIX systems administrator from California, said it was likely that the Apache developers were taking their time as the workarounds suggested by them had fixed the problem.

"It seems there is still ongoing discussion of what mix of limitations on the Range function are best used in the 2.2.x production releases, of the several that are already used in 2.3.x beta versions plus several others," Moen said.

"The developers seem to be simultaneously aware that they're overdue on the promised update, and also that it really doesn't matter much, since people have already deployed the suggested workarounds."

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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