[FFmpeg-devel] Reintroducing FFmpeg to Debian

Russ Allbery rra at debian.org
Sun Aug 17 01:23:59 CEST 2014

Derek Buitenhuis <derek.buitenhuis at gmail.com> writes:
> On 8/16/2014 11:27 PM, wm4 wrote:

>> That is very valuable advice. We'll get to work right away.

> I've added it to my TODO:

> * Don't write bugs.

That's a really bad way of avoiding security bugs.

I'm sure you know that and are just being flippant, but I have to say
that, as an outsider to the project who would like to use the software but
who cares a lot about not introducing security weaknesses, it's hard to
shake the feeling that this dismissive attitude is part of the problem.
There were earlier responses in the thread along the same lines, arguing
that the nature of FFmpeg means it will just inevitably have a bunch of
security bugs.  This sort of learned helplessness is really off-putting.

Thankfully, I get the impression from other research that I was doing
that it's *not* typical of FFmpeg as a whole, and that you all are, in
fact, doing exactly the sorts of things that I would recommend.  So this
is probably just one of those pointless Internet arguments where everyone
says things more aggressively than they actually mean them, and much heat
is created with little light.

But, for the record, what I was actually getting at is that the way to
avoid a bunch of security bugs is not to stop writing bugs, because no one
is going to achieve that.  It's to put in place supporting infrastructure
that makes it easier to write secure code and harder to write code where
bugs create security problems.  Trying to be closer to perfect in the code
you write is a horrible way to achieve security.  It doesn't work.  Adding
surrounding protective structure to the code so that the bugs do not
compromise security, and putting systems in place that let the computer do
lots more security sanity checking for you, are how other projects with
similar challenges have achieved considerable improvements in security bug

In case there's anyone reading this who doesn't have a feel for what this
looks like, the process the LibreSSL project is going through (regardless
of one's opinion on the desirability of an OpenSSL fork) is very
interesting.  I've personally learned quite a bit from it, have now
introduced reallocarray in my own code, and am planning on introducing

Russ Allbery (rra at debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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