Tuesday, 22 April 2014 11:57

OpenBSD begins clean-up of OpenSSL code

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The OpenBSD project has begun the process of cleaningup "a very bad codebase" - that of OpenSSL - in the wake of the disclosure of a flaw that compromised security on sites using the cryptographic software library.

The flaw, which is referred to as Heartbleed, was introduced into the code upstream in December 2011. when exploited, it leaks the contents of memory from server to client and vice versa.

The OpenBSD project is in no way responsible for OpenSSL; however, like many other operating systems it does include the software library in its own distribution.

However, it has taken on the task of cleaning up the code, first for use in its own distribution and later, if possible, by others. The project has a reputation for being extra-careful about security and many websites that look for that extra layer of protection run on OpenBSD.

OpenBSD project chief Theo de Raadt pointed iTWire to the following changes which have already been made:

splitting up the libcrypto and libssl build directories;

fixing a use-after-free bug;

removal of ancient MacOS, Netware, OS/2, VMS and Windows build junk;

removal of “bugs” directory, benchmarks, INSTALL files, and shared library goo for lame platforms;

removal of most (all?) backend engines, some of which didn’t even have appropriate licensing;

ripping out some windows-specific cruft;

removal of various wrappers for things like sockets, snprintf, opendir, etc. to actually expose real return values:

KNF of most C files (Kernel normal form, or KNF, is the coding style used in the development of code for the BSD operating systems);

removal of weak entropy additions; and

removal of all heartbeat functionality which resulted in Heartbleed.

"We make no promises to anyone else at this point," De Raadt said. "The codebase we are starting from is very bad."

"We are first trying to make this fit for our own purposes, then more generally fit for purpose. Current OpenSSL does not meet that standard by any stretch of the imagination."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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