Meltdown and Spectre bugs should help improve IT Security

Yes, I want to be positive and look at a bright future. Everybody is now talking about the Meltdown and Spectre bugs (here the official site). I think that these Hardware bugs at the end will help improve the security of our IT systems. But we should not underestimate the pain that they could cause, even if it is too early to say this for certain since patches and countermeasures could be found for all systems and CPUs or, at the opposite, there could appear unexpected exploits.

The central issue is that IT and IT Security in particular, depend crucially on the correctness of the behaviour of the Hardware, first of all of the CPUs. If the foundation of the IT pillar is weak, sooner or later something will break. Let’s then hope that the Meltdown and Spectre bugs will help design more secure IT Hardware and, in the long run, improve IT Security as a whole.

New Year, Old Bug

Happy New Year, and we start the new year with a very old bug which really amazes me.

This (see here for some explanation) is a bug introduced on May 10th, 1991 in X11 (now also Xorg), the graphics environment of any Unix and Unix-like OS. The bug is a buffer overflow which when exploited could give administrator rights (if X11 is running with these rights).

We have seen too many of these bugs and now they are almost history, in the sense that it is so well-known how to avoid them that they should not appear in any program. How is it then possible that in an open-source program, very well-known, very well scrutinized, widely adopted, a bug like this will remain undetected for 22 years?