[libre-riscv-dev] web-of-trust for code reviews to manage trusting dependencies

Hendrik Boom hendrik at topoi.pooq.com
Tue Aug 27 16:14:15 BST 2019

I just want to point out that there's no clear separation in the 
previous message between the text you are commenting on and the 
comments on the quoted text.

It's confusing, and may lead to maive readers thingking you are saying 
what you are actually disagreeing with.

-- hendrik

On Tue, Aug 27, 2019 at 10:17:19AM +0100, Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton wrote:
> On Tue, Aug 27, 2019 at 9:18 AM Jacob Lifshay programmerjake at gmail.com
> wrote:
> have a look at why advogato was created.
> i did read about advogato a bit.
> the interesting bit is that it didn't fail because the trust metric system
> didn't work: it did. it failed because people rejected the ideas put
> forward by people who *had* been Certified as "trusted".
> Raph actually received public demands for the removal of articles (or the
> De-Certification of the people who had posted them). he had to point out to
> them that, unfortunately, if he did so it would completely undermine his
> impartiality and thus the credibility of the entire system, but more than
> that, the people being "attacked" (me) had over 150 "Master" Certs by
> well-known themselves-trusted community individuals.
> he had to tell them that if they wanted my Cert "removed", they needed to
> contact all 150 of those people and demand that the person remove their
> "declaration of trust". Raph wasn't going to do it for them.
> the lesson we learn here is that there has to be a strong positive
> reinforcement "incentive" for people to do what they're actually "trusted"
> to do.
> and that there needed to be an "expiration", "renewal" and "revocation"
> process, which did not exist in the original Advogato code.
> "Will this web of trust model work? I don’t know."
> then why are you rushing to use it?
> Because it sounds like a good idea and is similar enough to PGP's web
> of trust that I think it will have mostly the same security
> properties.
> not good enough. "mostly" the same security properties is simply not
> good enough.
> again, that would be more thoroughly verified when the security audit is
> done.
> you'll see in a followup that i point out that this entirely misses an
> extremely
> critical step. a security audit is *different* from a cryptographic and
> social
> engineering *design* review.
> the crev team have entirely failed to provide any demonstrative proof that
> they've
> done that work.
> again to give an example: we had to go through such a review process for the
> NLNet funding application.
> NLNet *specifically* requested that we perform a comparative analysis of
> similar
> projects, providing not only insights into what was "wrong" with the
> alternatives,
> but what was *missing* from the alternatives.
> this then allowed them to make two separate and distinct decisions:
> (1) whether the donation would be money well spent (as opposed to
> simply duplicating something that already existed)
> (2) whether we actually knew - and could express - what we were talking
> about.
> the crev team have *failed* this utterly essentlal step, and gone straight
> to
> "writing code"
> that makes the proof repo a high-value target for attackers. and
> social engineering or simply plain lack of attention is easy enough to
> result in keys being stolen.
> I think you are missing that the proof repo and the private keys are stored
> completely separately: the keys would be on their owner's computer or
> hardware key and the repo would (usually) be on a public server somewhere.
> you'll see in the follow-up that is *precisely* the definition of a
> problematic
> arrangement.
> the server is not a very high-value target because even if an attacker
> could put whatever they wanted on it, the only parts that other people
> would trust are the parts that are also signed by the owner's crypto keys,
> which the attacker doesn't have.
> which they can obtain. underestimating that is a serious mistake.
> there's an extremely funny mathematical formula for this, which i saw on
> David Leblanc's wall at ISS when i worked there. it read, (in words):
> "Security tends to zero as the number of idiots goes from zero to infinity".
> it looks hilarious when written out in actual mathematical notation, because
> it's true.
> social engineering or lack of attention is generally not enough to get the
> key owner to give out their private key, just like they wouldn't just pass
> out their password to whoever asked.
> this is a fundamental mistaken assumption based on lack of experience in
> security.
> look up the lengths to which the Israeli Government went to, to get stuxnet
> installed.
> the higher the value of the target, the greater the lengths that attackers
> will go to.
> the current version of cargo-crev encrypts the private keys by default,
> requiring the owner to type in their passphrase to decrypt them in order to
> sign trust records.
> so what? worse: is that a *hard requirement*?? what if i have a smartcard
> for my GPG key? what if i have an "offline" computer that is never connected
> to the internet?
> this is what some people in debian actually do: they *NEVER*, under
> *ANYCIRCUMSTANCES*, permit the computer that is used to perform GPG-signing
> be
> connected to the internet.
> >
> have a look at how debian's distriibution chain actually works - and
> why it works. i describe it here:
> <https://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=14123270&cid=58732570>
> https://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=14123270&cid=58732570
> I'm well aware of how GPG is used in Debian and how everything is
> recursively based on the web-of-trust.
> good. that person that you linked to clearly isn't.
> I think crev is a good idea precisely because it is based on the same kind
> of web-of-trust and similar signing mechanism, though, because it is
> currently like an after-market addon for cargo, cargo doesn't currently
> check everything that way when it's originally downloaded (since cargo-crev
> isn't able to hook the download mechanism), instead, all the verification
> and review-checking is done as a separate command (cargo crev verify, i
> think).
> that's a good enough first step, however do not be fooled into thinking that
> just because the "verify" command exists, that it can be trusted.
> debian's procedures are designed for a single organization,
> they're absolutely not. the *code* is designed for a single organisation,
> as the procedures are implemented - hard-coded - into apt and dpkg.
> which is not as
> practical for cases where there is no centralized place to store signatures
> or Releases files.
> ?? where do you think those signatures and the Release files are stored??
> they're *offline* distributable! it is nonsense to claim that they're
> "centralised"!
> crev is similar, but more decentralized -- it doesn't
> need a centralized package repository.
> that sounds like a critical security design flaw
> crev can handle those cases (though maybe not the current implementation).
> crev should even be able to handle cases like, for example (currently only
> works for rust crates and (maybe) npm packages), Khronos releasing a new
> version of Vulkan, where Khronos is totally unaware of crev's existance.
> people can still review a particular release of the Vulkan spec and publish
> a signed review using crev, such that other people who download that
> version of the spec can see that it has been reviewed by people that they
> transitively trust, and crev will check that the cryptographic hash matches
> the review.
> and who - or what - checks that the process by which crev gets its
> information
> has not been compromised?
> this is the kind of thing that should have - would have - been picked up if
> the crev team had done their research into existing systems (and their
> flaws).
> *then* you design the interface around the basic fundamental concepts.
> if the interface happens to be easy, that's *great*... but it's
> absolutely essential that simplicity *not* be a driving "priority one"
> factor.
> that's true, however, any system that's supposed to improve security needs
> to be sufficiently easy to use that most people will actually use it.
> no: the users need to be educated and told that under no circumstances
> should they violate these procedures. or if they do, they get everything
> that they deserve.
> i have friends contacting me to say that they downloaded a random dpkg
> off the internet and that they got a trojan installed as a result.
> they bypassed the procedures: they get what they deserve.
> specifically *designing* a system that is insecure by design *FOR EVERYBODY*
> just to make the API quotes simple to use quotes is a really, *really*
> stupid
> thing to do.
> if it is "too complicated" for people who are inherently incapable of
> understanding it (and understanding the need) then at least the majority
> will not be affected.
> For me, at least, Debian's system is not easy enough to use for publishing
> code, simply because I don't have a GPG key and am not likely to be able
> get it signed by anyone in the Debian web of trust in the near future due
> to not having met anyone in person (probably will change once I attend some
> conferences).
> and that's a *good* thing! and you won't be allowed to become a Debian
> Developer unless you've gone through the correct procedures.
> however, you've fundamentally misunderstood (conflated) a number of things:
> (1) debian maintainers are NOT the same as "upstream code writers".
> they *can* be, but do not have to be
> (2) it is possible to submit a package for inclusion. you raise an "RFP"
> (3) that the RPF procedures exist does *NOT*, repeat *NOT* mean that "Debian
> procedures are a failure when it comes to general-purpose adoption".
> like many people who do not fully understand the processes and procedures
> that took debian 20 years to refine and prove, you are conflating a huge
> number of really quite separate and distinct parts of the process.
> to be perfectly clear: i'm not saying that the person who wrote the wiki
> page understood debian correctly or anything like that (they appear to only
> be tangentially related to the crev project anyway, though I could be
> wrong), I'm saying I think a lot of the ideas that went into crev are worth
> having in whatever system ends up becoming standard for cargo, crev or
> otherwise.
> they're only worth having when their value has been demonstrated by people
> who fully understand *all* the various package-distribution systems.
> putting a diamond ring on a pig does not make the pig pretty.
> l.
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