Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Zakia Bouachraoui, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog

Linux Containers: Article

Linux and Security: Forrester Report Flawed, Say Four Top Vendors

Linux and Security: Forrester Report Flawed, Say Four Top Vendors

GNU/Linux vendors Debian, Mandrakesoft, Red Hat, and SUSE have joined together to give a common statement about the Forrester report entitled "Is Linux more Secure than Windows?" - here's the full text, released yesterday:

Despite the report's claim to incorporate a qualitative assessment of vendor reactions to serious vulnerabilities, it treats all vulnerabilities are equal, regardless of their risk to users. As a result, the conclusions drawn by Forrester have extremely limited real-world value for customers assessing the practical issue of how quickly serious vulnerabilities get fixed.

The security response teams of GNU/Linux distributors Debian, Mandrakesoft, Red Hat and SUSE have assisted Forrester in gathering and correcting data about vulnerabilities in their products. The gathered data was used at Forrester for a report that became titled "Is Linux more secure than Windows?". While the Linux vulnerability data that is the basis for the report is considered to be sufficiently accurate and useful, Debian, Mandrakesoft, Red Hat and SUSE, from now on referred to as "We", are concerned about the correctness of the conclusions made in the report.

We believe that it is in the interest of our usership and the OpenSource community to respond to the Forrester report in the form of a common statement:

We were approached by Forrester in February 2004 to help them refine their raw data. Forrester collected data about the vulnerabilities that affected Linux during a one year period and looked at how many days it took us to provide fixes to our users. Significant efforts have been put in not only making sure that the underlying dataset for the Linux vulnerabilities was correct, but also to articulate the special technical and organisational care taken in the response processes in the professional Open Source security field. This expertise is greatly appreciated by our usership since it adds a high value to our products, but we see that most of this value has been ignored in the methods used for the analysis of the vulnerability data, leading to erroneous conclusions.

Our Security Response Teams and security specialized organisations of respectable reputation (such as the CERT/DHS, BSI, NIST, NISCC) exchange information about vulnerabilities and cooperate on the measures and procedures to react to them. Each vulnerability gets individually investigated and evaluated; the severity of the vulnerability is then determined by each of the individual teams based on the risk and impact as well as other, mostly technical, properties of the weakness and the software affected. This severity is then used to determine the priority at which a fix for a vulnerability is being worked on weighed against other vulnerabilities in our current queue. Our users will know that for critical flaws we can respond within hours. This prioritisation means that lower severity issues will often be delayed to let the more important issues get resolved first.

Even though the Forrester report claims so, it does not make that distinction when it measures the time elapsed between the public knowledge of a security flaw and the availiability of a vendor's fix. For each vendor the report gives just a simple average, the "All/Distribution days of risk", which gives an inconclusive picture of the reality that users experience. The average erroneously treats all vulnerabilities as equal, regardless of the risk. Not all vulnerabilities have an equal impact on all users. An attempt has been made to allocate a severity to vulnerabilities using data from a third party, however the classification of "high-severity" vulnerabilities is not sufficient: The mere announcement of a vulnerability by a particular security organisation does not necessarily make the vulnerability severe - similarly, the ability to exploit a weakness over the network (remote) is often irrelevant to the vulnerability's severity.

We believe the report does not treat the open source vendors and single closed source vendor in the same way. Open Source Software (OSS) is known for its variety and its freedom of choice amongst the standards it defines. Multiple implementations of these standards are typically offered for both desktop and server use, which gives users the freedom to select software based on their own criteria rather than those of the vendor. The openness, transparency and traceability of the source code is added value in addition to the larger variety of software packages available. Finally, the claim that one software vendor had fixed 100% of their flaws during the period of the report should be incentive for a closer investigation of the conclusions the report presents.

signed,

Noah Meyerhans, Debian
Vincent Danen, Mandrakesoft
Mark J Cox, Red Hat
Roman Drahtmueller, SUSE

Additional Information:

Javier Fernández-Sanguino Peña composed a survey in 2001[*] and discovered that it has taken the Debian security team an average of 35 days to fix vulnerbilities posted to the Bugtraq list. However, over 50% of the vulnerabilities where fixed in a 10-days time frame, and over 15% of them where fixed the same day the advisory was released! For this analysis, all vulnerabilities were treated the same, though.

He has rerun the survey based on vulnerabilities discovered between June 1st 2002 and May 31st 2003 and found out that the median value of delays between the disclosure and releasing an advisory including a correction was 10 days (average is 13.5 days). Again, for this analysis advisories were not classified with different priorities.

* http://lists.debian.org/debian-security-0112/msg00257.html
http://people.debian.org/~jfs/debconf/security/data/

More Stories By Linux News Desk

SYS-CON's Linux News Desk gathers stories, analysis, and information from around the Linux world and synthesizes them into an easy to digest format for IT/IS managers and other business decision-makers.

Comments (4)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...