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* An open letter to the Linux community
@ 2021-04-24 22:30 Kangjie Lu
  2021-04-25 14:37 ` Greg KH
  2021-04-27 12:53 ` Giacomo Tesio
  0 siblings, 2 replies; 4+ messages in thread
From: Kangjie Lu @ 2021-04-24 22:30 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: open list; +Cc: Qiushi Wu, Aditya Pakki

April 24, 2021
An open letter to the Linux community

Dear Community Members:

We sincerely apologize for any harm our research group did to the
Linux kernel community. Our goal was to identify issues with the
patching process and ways to address them, and we are very sorry that
the method used in the “hypocrite commits” paper was inappropriate. As
many observers have pointed out to us, we made a mistake by not
finding a way to consult with the community and obtain permission
before running this study; we did that because we knew we could not
ask the maintainers of Linux for permission, or they would be on the
lookout for the hypocrite patches. While our goal was to improve the
security of Linux, we now understand that it was hurtful to the
community to make it a subject of our research, and to waste its
effort reviewing these patches without its knowledge or permission.

We just want you to know that we would never intentionally hurt the
Linux kernel community and never introduce security vulnerabilities.
Our work was conducted with the best of intentions and is all about
finding and fixing security vulnerabilities.

The “hypocrite commits” work was carried out in August 2020; it aimed
to improve the security of the patching process in Linux. As part of
the project, we studied potential issues with the patching process of
Linux, including causes of the issues and suggestions for addressing
them.
* This work did not introduce vulnerabilities into the Linux code. The
three incorrect patches were discussed and stopped during exchanges in
a Linux message board, and never committed to the code. We reported
the findings and our conclusions (excluding the incorrect patches) of
the work to the Linux community before paper submission, collected
their feedback, and included them in the paper.
* All the other 190 patches being reverted and re-evaluated were
submitted as part of other projects and as a service to the community;
they are not related to the “hypocrite commits” paper.
* These 190 patches were in response to real bugs in the code and all
correct--as far as we can discern--when we submitted them.
* We understand the desire of the community to gain access to and
examine the three incorrect patches. Doing so would reveal the
identity of members of the community who responded to these patches on
the message board. Therefore, we are working to obtain their consent
before revealing these patches.
* Our recent patches in April 2021 are not part of the “hypocrite
commits” paper either. We had been conducting a new project that aims
to automatically identify bugs introduced by other patches (not from
us). Our patches were prepared and submitted to fix the identified
bugs to follow the rules of Responsible Disclosure, and we are happy
to share details of this newer project with the Linux community.

We are a research group whose members devote their careers to
improving the Linux kernel. We have been working on finding and
patching vulnerabilities in Linux for the past five years. The past
observations with the patching process had motivated us to also study
and address issues with the patching process itself. This current
incident has caused a great deal of anger in the Linux community
toward us, the research group, and the University of Minnesota. We
apologize unconditionally for what we now recognize was a breach of
the shared trust in the open source community and seek forgiveness for
our missteps.

We seek to rebuild the relationship with the Linux Foundation and the
Linux community from a place of humility to create a foundation from
which, we hope, we can once again contribute to our shared goal of
improving the quality and security of Linux software. We will work
with our department as they develop new training and support for
faculty and students seeking to conduct research on open source
projects, peer-production sites, and other online communities.  We are
committed to following best practices for collaborative research by
consulting with community leaders and members about the nature of our
research projects, and ensuring that our work meets not only the
requirements of the IRB but also the expectations that the community
has articulated to us in the wake of this incident.

While this issue has been painful for us as well, and we are genuinely
sorry for the extra work that the Linux kernel community has
undertaken, we have learned some important lessons about research with
the open source community from this incident. We can and will do
better, and we believe we have much to contribute in the future, and
will work hard to regain your trust.


Sincerely,


Kangjie Lu, Qiushi Wu, and Aditya Pakki
University of Minnesota

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 4+ messages in thread

* Re: An open letter to the Linux community
  2021-04-24 22:30 An open letter to the Linux community Kangjie Lu
@ 2021-04-25 14:37 ` Greg KH
  2021-04-27 12:53 ` Giacomo Tesio
  1 sibling, 0 replies; 4+ messages in thread
From: Greg KH @ 2021-04-25 14:37 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Kangjie Lu; +Cc: open list, Qiushi Wu, Aditya Pakki

On Sat, Apr 24, 2021 at 05:30:50PM -0500, Kangjie Lu wrote:
> April 24, 2021
> An open letter to the Linux community
> 
> Dear Community Members:
> 
> We sincerely apologize for any harm our research group did to the
> Linux kernel community. Our goal was to identify issues with the
> patching process and ways to address them, and we are very sorry that
> the method used in the “hypocrite commits” paper was inappropriate. As
> many observers have pointed out to us, we made a mistake by not
> finding a way to consult with the community and obtain permission
> before running this study; we did that because we knew we could not
> ask the maintainers of Linux for permission, or they would be on the
> lookout for the hypocrite patches. While our goal was to improve the
> security of Linux, we now understand that it was hurtful to the
> community to make it a subject of our research, and to waste its
> effort reviewing these patches without its knowledge or permission.
> 
> We just want you to know that we would never intentionally hurt the
> Linux kernel community and never introduce security vulnerabilities.
> Our work was conducted with the best of intentions and is all about
> finding and fixing security vulnerabilities.
> 
> The “hypocrite commits” work was carried out in August 2020; it aimed
> to improve the security of the patching process in Linux. As part of
> the project, we studied potential issues with the patching process of
> Linux, including causes of the issues and suggestions for addressing
> them.
> * This work did not introduce vulnerabilities into the Linux code. The
> three incorrect patches were discussed and stopped during exchanges in
> a Linux message board, and never committed to the code. We reported
> the findings and our conclusions (excluding the incorrect patches) of
> the work to the Linux community before paper submission, collected
> their feedback, and included them in the paper.
> * All the other 190 patches being reverted and re-evaluated were
> submitted as part of other projects and as a service to the community;
> they are not related to the “hypocrite commits” paper.
> * These 190 patches were in response to real bugs in the code and all
> correct--as far as we can discern--when we submitted them.
> * We understand the desire of the community to gain access to and
> examine the three incorrect patches. Doing so would reveal the
> identity of members of the community who responded to these patches on
> the message board. Therefore, we are working to obtain their consent
> before revealing these patches.
> * Our recent patches in April 2021 are not part of the “hypocrite
> commits” paper either. We had been conducting a new project that aims
> to automatically identify bugs introduced by other patches (not from
> us). Our patches were prepared and submitted to fix the identified
> bugs to follow the rules of Responsible Disclosure, and we are happy
> to share details of this newer project with the Linux community.
> 
> We are a research group whose members devote their careers to
> improving the Linux kernel. We have been working on finding and
> patching vulnerabilities in Linux for the past five years. The past
> observations with the patching process had motivated us to also study
> and address issues with the patching process itself. This current
> incident has caused a great deal of anger in the Linux community
> toward us, the research group, and the University of Minnesota. We
> apologize unconditionally for what we now recognize was a breach of
> the shared trust in the open source community and seek forgiveness for
> our missteps.
> 
> We seek to rebuild the relationship with the Linux Foundation and the
> Linux community from a place of humility to create a foundation from
> which, we hope, we can once again contribute to our shared goal of
> improving the quality and security of Linux software. We will work
> with our department as they develop new training and support for
> faculty and students seeking to conduct research on open source
> projects, peer-production sites, and other online communities.  We are
> committed to following best practices for collaborative research by
> consulting with community leaders and members about the nature of our
> research projects, and ensuring that our work meets not only the
> requirements of the IRB but also the expectations that the community
> has articulated to us in the wake of this incident.
> 
> While this issue has been painful for us as well, and we are genuinely
> sorry for the extra work that the Linux kernel community has
> undertaken, we have learned some important lessons about research with
> the open source community from this incident. We can and will do
> better, and we believe we have much to contribute in the future, and
> will work hard to regain your trust.
> 
> 
> Sincerely,
> 
> 
> Kangjie Lu, Qiushi Wu, and Aditya Pakki
> University of Minnesota

Thank you for your response.

As you know, the Linux Foundation and the Linux Foundation's Technical
Advisory Board submitted a letter on Friday to your University outlining
the specific actions which need to happen in order for your group, and
your University, to be able to work to regain the trust of the Linux
kernel community.

Until those actions are taken, we do not have anything further to
discuss about this issue.

thanks,

greg k-h

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 4+ messages in thread

* Re: An open letter to the Linux community
  2021-04-24 22:30 An open letter to the Linux community Kangjie Lu
  2021-04-25 14:37 ` Greg KH
@ 2021-04-27 12:53 ` Giacomo Tesio
  2021-04-27 17:09   ` Willy Tarreau
  1 sibling, 1 reply; 4+ messages in thread
From: Giacomo Tesio @ 2021-04-27 12:53 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Kangjie Lu; +Cc: open list, Qiushi Wu, Aditya Pakki

"Damn kids, they're all alike"
http://phrack.org/issues/7/3.html


Dear Kangjie Lu, Qiushi Wu, and Aditya Pakki,

Since nobody is doing so, I want to thank you for your hacks.


All the livor and drama that followed your research proves that
the Linux Foundation failed to learn the lessons of Heartbleed.

At the end of the day, this is a valuable discovery for all of us.


You are the kids laughing loud that "the emperor has no clothes".
More precisely, that the emperor STILL has no clothes.
Ten year later.

The corporations behind the Linux kernel didn't take it well
(you wasted their time and money! you outsmarted them! how dare!),
but the hypocrisy in your commits is not the one you revealed.


Pretending that such kind of attack didn't succeded before, 
pretending that the problem is you, is way worse.


I've read that 

> The Linux Foundation's Technical Advisory Board submitted a letter 
> on Friday to your University outlining the specific actions which
> need to happen in order for your group, and your University, to 
> be able to work to regain the trust of the Linux kernel community.

But any programmer with a grain of salt, knows that they are just
tring to distract everybody from their own operational failures.

They blame you and your University just to avoid to be held accountable.

It's neither you nor your University that need to regain trust.
It's not you that proved to not deserve it.

Your crime is that of curiosity.


How sad it is to see a project born "just for fun", turned into this!


But since I care more about cyber-security than about OSS marketing,
I thank you for what you did. I hope that more of such kind of hacks
and experiments will happen in the future, both in the Linux Kernel
and in many other projects.

All without ANYBODY aware of them, because otherwise they would 
prevent such epic failures to be discovered and publicly exposed,
again and again.


What you did was not just ethical, but noble and brave.


Thanks.


Giacomo

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 4+ messages in thread

* Re: An open letter to the Linux community
  2021-04-27 12:53 ` Giacomo Tesio
@ 2021-04-27 17:09   ` Willy Tarreau
  0 siblings, 0 replies; 4+ messages in thread
From: Willy Tarreau @ 2021-04-27 17:09 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Giacomo Tesio; +Cc: Kangjie Lu, open list, Qiushi Wu, Aditya Pakki

On Tue, Apr 27, 2021 at 02:53:47PM +0200, Giacomo Tesio wrote:
> The corporations behind the Linux kernel didn't take it well
> (you wasted their time and money! you outsmarted them! how dare!),
> but the hypocrisy in your commits is not the one you revealed.

Do you happen to have the slightest form of consideration for all these
individuals who review patches in the evening on their spare time while
you're comfortably watching TV in your sofa, probably from a device
running Linux by the way ?

Because this is exactly the problem here. It's always been known that
more reviewers would be cool, but interestingly, nobody has the time
to do so. However it looks like some still have time and budget to send
traps and point the finger saying "hey look, they didn't read fast
enough, I got them!". It's like pulling crutches from a single-legged
person trying to cross the street, watch her go and laugh once she
falls! Demonstrating a well-known weakness is easy. Pointing the finger
is easy. Helping however, requires another level, like kindly offering
help to that person to cross the street without the fear of being
looked at by others if you don't proceed in the best way. But surely
you don't have time or you're not qualified for this, because I don't
remember having seen you any single time responding to a patch here.

Or maybe you've just figured that you indeed have some time to help
with this in the future and it was an awkward offering from you to
kindly propose your help with reviews, in which case I'm sure a lot of
developers will be pleased ?

Willy

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 4+ messages in thread

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Thread overview: 4+ messages (download: mbox.gz / follow: Atom feed)
-- links below jump to the message on this page --
2021-04-24 22:30 An open letter to the Linux community Kangjie Lu
2021-04-25 14:37 ` Greg KH
2021-04-27 12:53 ` Giacomo Tesio
2021-04-27 17:09   ` Willy Tarreau

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