Thursday, May 19, 2016

ICMC16: LibreSSL

Giovanni Bechis, Owner, System Administrator and Developer, SnB, Developer, OpenBSD

The LibreSSL project started in April 2014, after heartbleed was discovered in OpenSSL. Man vendors and systems were impacted by this, and there is no way to tell if you have been attacked or not.  Why did this happen? The OpenSSL code was too complex.  Thought - should we try to fix OpenSSL or fork?

Fork was decided because the fork was too complex and intricate. This has changed more recently, but in April 2014 the OpenSSL developers were only interested in new features, not in bug fixing. Heartbleed wasn't the only reason we decided to fork, it was just that the code was too complex. For example, OpenSSL doesn't use malloc, and the allocator it does use doesn't free memory.  It uses LIFO recycling.  The debugging features in their malloc are useful for debugging but could be used attack.

At the time, pretty much all OpenSSL API headers are public. Many application developers were using interfaces they should not have been exposed to. It uses it's own functions, instead of things provided by libc, etc

There is a lot of #ifdef preprocessing code to work around bugs in compilers or on specific systems.

Forked from OpenSSL 1.0.1g. Have been backporting bug fixes from that tree.

OpenSSL is the "de facto" standard and widely used. It is difficult to get patches applied upstream. They wanted to preserve the API to maintain compatibility with OpenSSL.

They want to make sure they use good coding practices and fix bugs as fast as possible.

No FIPS support, mainly because their developers are not in the US.  They have removed some old ciphers (MD2, etc) and add ChaCha20 and Poly1305.

Removed SSLv3 support. Removed dynamic engine support, mostly because there were no engines for OpenBSD so they could not test.

OpenSSL is portable, but at the expense of needing to reimplement things that are found in most implementations of libc and lots of #ifdef and #ifndef.

Some of the OpenBSD software has been switched to use libressl, like the FTP client software. 

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