Feeds

OpenBSD founder wants to bin buggy OpenSSL library, launches fork

One Heartbleed vuln was too many for Theo de Raadt

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

In the wake of the Heartbleed bug fiasco, members of the OpenBSD project have forked the popular OpenSSL library with the aim of creating a new version that they say will be more trustworthy.

Even though OpenSSL is open source software, for a full two years its entire development community managed to overlook the crucial bug that eventually triggered a web-wide panic.

The library has since been patched to address the flaw, but fallout from the crisis is still being felt, and the programmer whose error caused all the ruckus says there just aren't enough people scrutinizing the OpenSSL code to spot difficult-to-find bugs.

The LibreSSL project wants to change that. A fork of OpenSSL, LibreSSL was created by members of the highly security-conscious OpenBSD operating system community – including its cantankerous founder Theo de Raadt, who has publicly criticized OpenSSL as a project "not developed by a responsible team."

The group's goal is to provide a drop-in replacement for OpenSSL that has been substantially rewritten and audited for potential security vulnerabilities. The API won't change, they say, but much of the current code will.

It's early days for the project yet. Its homepage – rendered entirely in the dreaded Comic Sans font – says its contributors are currently "too busy deleting and rewriting code to make a decent web page."

Much of the early work involves refactoring and cleaning up the OpenSSL code so that it's more readable and easier to maintain. A quick glance at the code commits so far reveals a lot of "KNF" work – meaning the individual source files are being rewritten in "kernel normal form," a standard C coding style used by BSD operating systems.

In addition, thousands of lines of "unneeded" code have already been deleted. Much of this code was OS-specific, including workarounds for such ancient platforms as VMS, OS/2, NetWare, classic Mac OS, and old versions of Windows.

The upshot of all this, however, is that LibreSSL will be an OpenBSD-only library – at least at first. The developers do plan to provide multi-OS support eventually, but only after they have rewritten enough of the code to make it stable and maintainable, and then find reliable developers to work on ports to other systems.

"We know you all want this tomorrow," the project's homepage states. "We are working as fast as we can but our primary focus is good software that we trust to run ourselves. We don't want to break your heart."

As it stands, the first version of LibreSSL is planned for inclusion in OpenBSD 5.6. If all goes according to plan, that version should arrive in November; the upcoming version of the OS, OpenBSD 5.5, is due to ship on May 1. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.