Boosting the Real Time Performance of Gnome Shell 3.34 in Ubuntu 19.10
> As you may have read many times, Gnome 3.34 brings much improved desktop performance. In this article we will describe some of the improvements contributed by Canonical, how the problems were surprising, how they were approached and what other performance work is coming in future.
> The thing is in the case of Gnome Shell its biggest performance problems of late were not hot spots at all. They were better characterised as cold spots where it was idle instead of updating the screen smoothly. Such cold spots are only apparent when you look at the real time usage of a program, and in not the CPU or GPU time consumed.
Nice write-up on addressing stuttering and lag.
Defense in depth against SSRF vulnerabilities with the EC2 Instance Metadata Service
> Today, AWS is making v2 of the EC2 Instance Metadata Service (IMDSv2) available. The existing instance metadata service (IMDSv1) is fully secure, and AWS will continue to support it. But IMDSv2 adds new “belt and suspenders” protections for four types of vulnerabilities that could be used to try to access the IMDS. These new protections go well beyond other types of mitigations, while working seamlessly with existing mitigations such as restricting IAM roles and using local firewall rules to restrict access to the IMDS. AWS is also making new versions of the AWS SDKs and CLIs available that support IMDSv2.
Eh, seems this could have been better from the start, but oh well.
TAA and other RIDL issues
> On Nov 12, 2019, we (VUSec) disclose TSX Asynchronous Abort (TAA), a new speculation-based vulnerability in Intel CPUs as well as other MDS-related issues, as described in our new RIDL addendum. In reality, this is no new vulnerability. We disclosed TAA (and other issues) as part of our original RIDL submission to Intel in Sep 2018. Unfortunately, the Intel PSIRT team missed our submitted proof-of-concept exploits (PoCs), and as a result, the original MDS mitigations released in May 2019 only partially addressed RIDL. You can read the full story below.
> On July 3, 2019, we finally learned that, to our surprise, the Intel PSIRT team had missed the PoCs from our Sep 29 submission, despite having awarded a bounty for it, explaining why Intel had failed to address - or even publicly acknowledge - many RIDL-class vulnerabilities on May 14, 2019.
When you have so many problems you’re paying out bounties without knowing what for...
> Rolling forward 15 years, isogeny-based cryptography is another area with many technical subtleties, but is moving into the mainstream of cryptography. Once again, not everything that can be done with discrete logarithms can necessarily be done with isogenies. It is therefore not surprising to find papers that have issues with their security.
> It is probably time for an Isogenies for Cryptographers paper, but I don’t have time to write it. Instead, in this blog post I will mention several recent examples of incorrect papers. My hope is that these examples are instructional and will help prevent future mistakes. My intention is not to bring shame upon the authors.
My name causes an issue with any booking
> Whenever I get a ticket through an agent and they put my first name as Amr, it lands as A only in the Airlines system. That happened with many airlines and different agents. That is pretty much annoying, specially during the online check-in.
> In the case of a Travel Agency connected to Amadeus, for example, this means that they are likely using ATE: the Amadeus Terminal Emulator, which as the name implies emulates the terminals of old.
> Check the Quick Reference Guide, p. 33 on how to create a PNR:
> NM1SMITH/JOHN MR
> Using a space, the parsing is unambiguous, however not all agents put a space
FreeBSD'fy ZFS zlib zalloc/zfree callbacks
> The previous code came from OpenSolaris, which in my understanding require allocation size to be known to free memory. To store that size previous code allocated additional 8 byte header. But I have noticed that zlib with present settings allocates 64KB context buffers for each call, that could be efficiently cached by UMA, but addition of those 8 bytes makes them fall back to physical RAM allocations, that cause huge overhead and lock congestion on small blocks. Since FreeBSD’s free() does not have the size argument, switching to it solves the problem, increasing write speed to ZVOLs with 4KB block size and GZIP compression on my 40-threads test system from ~60MB/s to ~600MB/s.
How a months-old AMD microcode bug destroyed my weekend
> Unfortunately, unpatched Ryzen 3000 says “yes” to the CPUID 01H call, sets the carry bit indicating it has successfully created the most artisanal, organic high-quality random number possible... and gives you a 0xFFFFFFFF for the “random” number, every single time.
> Unfortunately, after successfully applying the update and rebooting again, I realized my error—yes, Asus showed a later date for the BIOS, but the actual version was the same as the one I already had—3.2.0. My CPU still thought 0xFFFFFFFF was the randomest number ever, always, no matter what.
> At this point, I began to get paranoid—systemd had already quietly worked around the bug. But with most applications just quietly ignoring the problem, how would I know if it ever had been patched? What if two years later, I was still vulnerable to stack-smashing that I shouldn’t have been, due to ASLR that wasn’t actually randomizing?
Another entry for the bad workarounds file.
Potential bypass of Runas user restrictions
> When sudo is configured to allow a user to run commands as an arbitrary user via the ALL keyword in a Runas specification, it is possible to run commands as root by specifying the user ID -1 or 4294967295.
Interesting combination of circumstances.
Chromebook U2F ECDSA vulnerability
> We discovered a vulnerability in the H1 security chip firmware concerning ECDSA signature generation. The firmware code used incompatible transfer instructions when passing a critical secret value to the cryptographic hardware block, resulting in generating secret values of a specific structure and having a significant loss of entropy in the secret value (64 bits instead of 256 bits). We confirmed that the incorrect generation of the secret value allows it to be recovered, which in turn allows the the underlying ECC private key to be obtained. Thus, attackers that have a single pair of signature and signed data can effectively compute the private key, breaking any functionality or protocols that use the key pair in question.
Experimental feature, with an annoying fix. If it had been for real, quite messy.
Bzip2 And The Cve That Wasn’t
> Compiling with the GCC sanitizers and then fuzzing the resulting binaries might find real bugs. But not all such bugs are security issues. When a CVE is filed there is some pressure to treat such an issue with urgency and push out a fix as soon as possible. But taking your time and making sure an issue can be replicated/exploited without the binary being instrumented by the sanitizer is often better.
I don’t think anything went wrong here, but some interesting details.
clamav: denial of service through "better zip bomb"
> Recently David Fifield presented a new variant of a ZIP bomb where by using overlapping segments he was able to achieve very high compression ratios (42kb->5GB, 10MB->281TB).
> However David Fifield commented in the bug report  that the fix is incomplete, by using some slight variations of his methods he could bypass the fix.
This shouldn’t be anything new, but... oops. Plus some commentary about age browsing, etc.
vDSO, 32-bit time, and seccomp
> The seccomp() mechanism is notoriously difficult to use. It also turns out to be easy to break unintentionally, as the development community discovered when a timekeeping change meant to address the year-2038 problem created a regression for seccomp() users in the 5.3 kernel. Work is underway to mitigate the problem for now, but seccomp() users on 32-bit systems are likely to have to change their configurations at some point.
The problems inherent in exposing very low level interfaces in one place (seccomp) and high level interfaces in another (libc).
> For two years I’ve been driving myself crazy trying to figure out the source of a driver problem on OpenBSD: interrupts never arrived for certain touchpad devices. A couple weeks ago, I put out a public plea asking for help in case any non-OpenBSD developers recognized the problem, but while debugging an unrelated issue over the weekend, I finally solved it. It’s been a long journey and it’s a technical tale, but here it is.
Diving deep into the AML.
Adventures in application compatibility: Calling an internal function
> Of course, searching memory for a function to call is not exactly something documented and supported. Windows made some changes to how these functions operate, and that threw off their code that grovels the binary, and they ended up calling the wrong function.
OpenSSH Taking Minutes To Become Available, Booting Takes Half An Hour ... Because Your Server Waits For A Few Bytes Of Randomness
> Basically as of now the entropy file saved as /var/lib/systemd/random-seed will not - drumroll - add entropy to the random pool when played back during boot. Actually it will. It will just not be accounted for. So Linux doesn’t know. And continues blocking getrandom(). This is obviously different from SysVinit times2 when /var/lib/urandom/random-seed (that you still have lying around on updated systems) made sure the system carried enough entropy over reboot to continue working right after enough of the system was booted.
And then... it just kinda keeps getting worse. The problem is understandable, the inability to resolve it less so.
The lifetime of an Android API vulnerability
> When we published our paper in 2015, we predicted that this vulnerability would not be patched on 95% of devices in the Android ecosystem until January 2018 (plus or minus a standard deviation of 1.23 years). Since this date has now passed, we decided to check whether our prediction was correct.
> The good news is that we found the operating system update requirements crossed the 95% threshold in May 2017, seven months earlier than our best estimate, and within one standard deviation of our prediction. The most recent data for May 2019 shows deployment has reached 98.2% of devices in use. Nevertheless, fixing this aspect of the vulnerability took well over 4 years to reach 95% of devices.
Provide protection against starvation of the ll/sc loops when accessing userpace.
> Casueword(9) on ll/sc architectures must be prepared for userspace constantly modifying the same cache line as containing the CAS word, and not loop infinitely. Otherwise, rogue userspace livelock kernel.
Understanding real-world concurrency bugs in Go
> We perform the first systematic study on concurrency bugs in real Go programs. We studied six popular Go software [projects] including Docker, Kubernetes, and gRPC. We analyzed 171 concurrency bugs in total, with more than half of them caused by non-traditional, Go-specific problems. Apart from root causes of these bugs, we also studied their fixes, performed experiments to reproduce them, and evaluated them with two publicly-available Go bug detectors.
Technical Details on the Recent Firefox Add-on Outage
> Recently, Firefox had an incident in which most add-ons stopped working. This was due to an error on our end: we let one of the certificates used to sign add-ons expire which had the effect of disabling the vast majority of add-ons. Now that we’ve fixed the problem for most users and most people’s add-ons are restored, I wanted to walk through the details of what happened, why, and how we repaired it.
Alpine Linux Docker Image root User Hard-Coded Credential Vulnerability
> Versions of the Official Alpine Linux Docker images (since v3.3) contain a NULL password for the root user. This vulnerability appears to be the result of a regression introduced in December t2015. Due to the nature of this issue, systems deployed using affected versions of the Alpine Linux container that utilize Linux PAM, or some other mechanism that uses the system shadow file as an authentication database, may accept a NULL password for the root user.
NULL as in empty. Note the timeline.
> This vulnerability was originally reported and patched in 2015, regression tests were added to prevent this from occurring in the future.
> Unfortunately, later that same year, a commit was pushed to simplify the regression tests. This lead to logic that may have caught this regression being simplified, causing these tests to be incorrectly ‘satisfied’ if the root password was once again removed.
> Eight days after this vulnerability was initially fixed, a commit was pushed which removed this ‘disable root by default’ flag from the ‘edge’ build properties file, reintroducing this issue to subsequent builds.