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Security Software Linux

Critical Security Hole in Linux Wi-Fi 262

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the nobody's-perfect dept.
thisispurefud writes "A flaw has been found in a major Linux Wi-Fi driver that can allow an attacker to run malicious code and take control of a laptop, even when it is not on a Wi-Fi network."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Critical Security Hole in Linux Wi-Fi

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  • patched already (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yagu (721525) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ugayay]> on Sunday April 15, 2007 @10:36AM (#18741577) Journal

    So here is a Linux driver problem, a patch is available, though not widely dispersed. The news here is that even in a largely neglected (though it shouldn't be) slice of the Open Source technology, specifically the deadly difficult wi-fi landscape, bugs are found and fixed right away (at least that's the gist of part of the article).

    I'm more afraid of the neglected patches MSFT deems behind closed doors as not important enough to reveal to the public. How many zero-day exploits is MSFT discussing behind those closed doors right now, and what are they deciding about the fate of security to my machines?

    I know I'm spinning here, but I don't find it much of a stretch to interpret this as good PR for the Linux world -- they find problems, they fix them.

    (It doesn't seem to fix the other problem... I'm so sad and tired of trying to get laptops running linux reliably with wi-fi, I barely even bother messing with it anymore... If I want wireless linux on a laptop, I'm doing via Vmware's bridge. It shouldn't be like this.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by LinuxGeek (6139) *
      Wireless support was one of my main requirements when picking my newest laptop. Good support for Atheros cards and as we know, they get patched quickly when flaws are found.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by FauxPasIII (75900)
      While I echo your congratulations on a good response to this bug, I should point out that the driver in question is MadWifi; it's mostly closed source.
      • Re:patched already (Score:4, Informative)

        by QuietLagoon (813062) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @10:58AM (#18741723)
        MadWiFi source code can be found here [madwifi.org].

        The module in question is found here [madwifi.org]. (slow to load)

        • Re:patched already (Score:5, Informative)

          by FauxPasIII (75900) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @12:17PM (#18742389)
          > MadWiFi source code can be found here.

          Or rather, a small open-source Linux compatibility shim around the actual, binary only driver.

          Look further into that link you pasted:

          http://madwifi.org/browser/trunk/hal/public [madwifi.org]

          Those .uu files are binary objects stored as text, and they make up the majority of the driver. This same binary driver is also used by some of the BSDs, with a different open-source shim.

          > The module in question is found here. (slow to load)

          Ah, so the flaw is in the open source shim part. Fooey. =/

          As an aside, and as I suspect you might already know, there is an effort to replace the binary-only part of that driver with Free software, and the Madwifi people have cooperated as much as they're able. They even host the development in their own repository:

          http://madwifi.org/browser/branches/madwifi-old-op enhal [madwifi.org]

          Cheers!
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by markov_chain (202465)
            The HAL is hardly the majority of the driver. The reasons for having the HAL are mostly regulatory, and they are not going away. We should be grateful that most of the Atheros cards don't have firmware, so the extent of the reverse engineering is the host-based HAL blob instead of some totally proprietary microcontroller architecture and RTOS. The bad news is, miniPCI is dying, and the industry is moving to USB modules, which unfortunately all use firmware-driven microcontrollers. Two examples I know ar
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Bretai (2646)
            a small open-source Linux compatibility shim around the actual, binary only driver.

            So the binary HAL layer is less than half of my driver and doesn't include frame parsing and generation or rate control, yet you'd like to call it a small compatibility shim? I'd say the driver is mostly open source.

            As for the effort to reverse engineer the HAL, I think the chip versions are revised too quickly for that to be widely successful. Seems like a lot of work for little return.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by FauxPasIII (75900)
              > So the binary HAL layer is less than half of my driver


              root@Callooh ~ =) # lsmod | grep ^ath
              ath_rate_sample 11776 1
              ath_pci 87456 0
              ath_hal 189584 3 ath_rate_sample,ath_pci
              root@Callooh ~ =) #


              -shrug- No disrespect. I like, use and recommend to others your driver. It's by far the most complete of the many wireless ethernet drivers I've used with Linux.

              Granted, when there's a fully free-software driver that will run my card, even if it isn't as complete, I'll be swit
      • I should point out that the driver in question is MadWifi; it's mostly closed source.

        Indeed, we've been here before [wikipedia.org]. Stuff like this makes me feel better about the few inconveniences I've had to put up with to use Debian. It is difficult to find hardware that works, but that's nothing next to getting nailed like a Windoze user.

        This is why it's important to distinguish between "Linux" and "Free Software". Sooner or later the message will get through over nonsense like the popularity argument and othe

        • by The Bungi (221687)
          Except that this particular driver is mostly open source, and the flaw happens to be in that portion, which is probably why Debian patched it so quickly (December). But either distros are not offering downstream updates or people are not patching. Kinda like "Windoze" update. I guess it doesn't really matter what OS you're using if you don't patch.

          Interesting also that a flaw in a driver can cause the whole machine to be compromised. IIRC you've said yourself in the past that this is a "Windoze"-only "fea

          • Freedom matters. (Score:2, Redundant)

            by Erris (531066)

            "This is why it's important to distinguish between "Linux" and "Free Software". ... nonsense like the popularity argument and other FUD presented in PC World."

            I don't see how this is relevant or even how it makes any sense at all.

            That's because you have not gotten your head around the fact that peer review makes for better code.

    • by Vellmont (569020) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @11:07AM (#18741797) Homepage
      It's interesting that people start talking about Microsoft right away in reaction to this hole, as if the only thing that matters here is how this flaw relates to Microsoft.

      What I see is more the horrible state of software security. A security model that relies on all the writers of driver code in your computer to do their job right is a poor security model.


      I know I'm spinning here, but I don't find it much of a stretch to interpret this as good PR for the Linux world -- they find problems, they fix them.

      Great.. I guess I'd rather have the Linux World where there aren't any serious problems to begin with. The larger picture here is that computer security kinda sucks, not that Microsoft is better/worse at it than Linux is.

      I'm so sad and tired of trying to get laptops running linux reliably with wi-fi, I barely even bother messing with it anymore

      Huh. I've had very good luck recently with Ubuntu. The built in wifi in my laptop worked out of the box with Ubuntu, and two other cards I own worked as well.

      It hasn't always been like this of course. A couple years ago WiFi support was extremely lacking.
      • by FooBarWidget (556006) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @11:46AM (#18742109)
        I think the fact that computer security sucks implies that one of these is true:
        1. It just isn't possible to make software ultra-secure and free of vulnerabilities. I.e. you cannot expect *any* piece to be 100% secure, ever.
        2. It is possible, but the costs of making software ultra-secure is so high that it's not worth it. Customers would rather pay a lower price for a slightly less secure system than a much larger price for a 100% secure system.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jimicus (737525)
          I suspect the latter is the case - but that suspicion is based mainly on computer science theory (which amongst other things holds that it's quite possible to mathematically verify that a function will behave as expected under all circumstances).

          In the real world, there are just too many variables, both in software and hardware - OSs and hardware are much more complicated than they were 20 years ago - for that to be practical unless you're prepared to sacrifice a lot of functionality (ie. use a platform tha
        • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Sunday April 15, 2007 @01:28PM (#18742937) Homepage

          3. C/C++ make it really easy to screw up.

        • by dkf (304284)
          3. It is possible. It's not trivial, but it's possible with reasonable effort. But doing so would require overturning ignorance, stupidity and laziness. That is, (most) programmers don't know that there are better alternatives, refuse to listen to those who tell them that they don't have to put up with this sort of thing, and even when they've heard that it might be so, can't be bothered to learn how to avoid these sorts of problems because that would take some actual effort. OK, these attributes are not in
        • by 51mon (566265)

          2. It is possible, but the costs of making software ultra-secure is so high that it's not worth it. Customers would rather pay a lower price for a slightly less secure system than a much larger price for a 100% secure system.

          I think it is somewhat more complex.

          It is relatively easy to avoid the kind of problem reported. Almost trivially so. But it isn't the way the software industry generally writes kernels or device drivers, so we'd have to start again. Kind of like deciding petrol was a mistake, and we sh

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @12:01PM (#18742239) Journal
        The biggest problem with this kind of thing is not the operating system security model, it's the hardware. A device in most consumer machines can issue DMA requests that allow it to read or write arbitrary addresses in physical memory. No matter how isolated the driver is, the device itself can still poke at your memory. This can be addressed by adding an IOMMU, which allows the kernel to assign a virtual address range to the device, and prevents it from accessing random areas of memory. Once you have this, it's possible to isolate drivers more and impose a good security model on them, but without it, anything you do is a bit pointless.

        The good news is that the rise of virtualisation means that IOMMUs are going to become a lot more common in the next few years.

      • What I see is more the horrible state of software security. A security model that relies on all the writers of driver code in your computer to do their job right is a poor security model.

        You're right. Unfortunately with the current design of PC hardware it's difficult to provide protection from poorly written drivers. For example, it's very common for drivers to be able to (a) initiate DMA transfers to/from any part of physical memory, and (b) lock the PCI bus by messing with the bus arbitration. You can do things like having an exokernel [wikipedia.org] -- small trusted multiplexers go in the kernel and the larger parts of your drivers sit (untrusted) in userspace, but performance generally sucks. Some hardware (eg. graphics cards) makes it hard even to do this.

        Luckily virtualisation is driving better solutions, and they're coming to a PC near you soon (in fact, they've already come to the PCs I'm using daily, but those are test articles). Primarily with virtualisation we want to be able to hand off devices to untrusted guest operating systems. For example give each guest its own physical network card. That won't work too well if guests can stomp on each others memory using DMA transfers. The new hardware actually has hardware support to stop the guests doing bad things.

        Look at Intel's VT-d [intel.com] for example.

        Rich.

      • by fuzz6y (240555)

        Great.. I guess I'd rather have the Linux World where there aren't any serious problems to begin with.
        and I'd like to be able to drive my car to Jupiter.
      • Isn't one of the selling points of the MicroKernel (like mac OSX) supposed to be higher driver security since everything is walled apart?
    • Re:patched already (Score:4, Insightful)

      by delire (809063) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @12:17PM (#18742387)
      Wireless support on Linux is great if you simply do a little research and don't pick a card that doesn't work. [leenooks.com] You can't take a Linux unfriendly wireless adapter to water and make it drink, so don't waste your time.

      Wireless works out-of-the-box (or soon after) - with a recent distribution of Linux - on most laptops these days.

  • Already been patched, read TFA. My laptop has been patched for a while already, so have most people that actually pay attention to security posts.
  • What if you ifdown the wireless interface when not in use, can this prevent an exploit? It seems like it would unload the interface, but the kernel drivers would still be present. Does the kernel still monitor the wireless signals regardless of the ifup status?

    I'm lucky my laptop has a switch on the side, when switched OFF wireless networking seems to be disabled. It seems to be a hardware disconnect for the antenna.
    • It's pretty much up to the module in question, but most wireless (and wired) NIC driver modules that I've been dealing physically turn off the transceiver hardware when you ifdown the interface. I'm fairly sure (though I wouldn't bet it) that madwifi does that too.
  • Thanks for the useless link. Anyone with a link to an actual advisory, LKML post, lwn, etc that might have some actual information in it?
    • Pretty sure this is the vuln talked about in TFA:http://lwn.net/Vulnerabilities/230286/
    • madwifi links. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Erris (531066) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @11:45AM (#18742095) Homepage Journal

      The madwifi howto is here [madwifi.org]. It seems that you can type, "lsmod | grep ath_pci" to find out if you are running the supposedly exploited module. My simple Etch system does not have this or wlanconfig tools by default, though those tools look very nice and I'm sure this little problem will be fixed quickly.

      I have to agree with you about the uselessness of the PC World article. Besides not having any useful information, it's filled with FUD about free software wifi and confused "popularity argument" babble. In short it's more of a, "everyone else has these problems too, so Windoze away," pacifier than it is a news article.

      • by The Bungi (221687)
        supposedly exploited module ... I'm sure this little problem

        We've entered the spin zone!

        will be fixed quickly

        Just like any problem with "Windoze", if you bother to patch.

        it's filled with FUD about free software

        Of course, all this is "FUD"

        so Windoze away

        Yes, do the "oooh, look over there M$ Windoze sux!" routine. Better get it polished up though - you better get used to this being more and more prevalent and you'll have to do a lot better than these [slashdot.org]. It shouldn't detract from the quality of Lin

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bretai (2646)
        you can type, "lsmod | grep ath_pci" to find out if you are running the supposedly exploited module

        You can also type "modinfo ath_pci | grep version" to find which version you have.

        The patched driver is 0.9.2.1 [madwifi.org] or newer.

    • For further peace of mind, you can check this list of devices [passys.nl] and "lspci" to see if further action is required.

    • Finally, note that free software distributions like Debian, clearly label n binary blobs [wikipedia.org] required by the Madwifi drivers as non free [debian.org] and these are not included by default.

      The point that PC World misses is that non free has problems in both the Linux and Windoze world. The magic of GNU/Linux is that it's Free Software [fsf.org]. When you mix in binary blobs, you are once again a helpless user. Others have noticed [wikipedia.org] that Atheros does not release specifications required to build drivers. That's too bad, but they ar

  • In other news.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ckwop (707653) *

    ... take a look at Microsoft's patches this month. [bbc.co.uk]

    It doesn't matter which operating system you use - they all contains buffer overflows. In a way, the consumer is to blame for this. BSD has been whiling with little to no market-share despite the fact it's free. Nobody it seems wants software that's secure out of the box and stays secure.

    People want features and features are the enemy of security. So the status-quo continues even though we've known how to fix these issues for forty years.

    Simon

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by jeevesbond (1066726)

      People want features and features are the enemy of security.

      But isn't an OS without features a brick? I can understand not using the features we don't need, but wireless is sought after and really useful. Moaning about people using it is not going to help, following that argument to its logical conclusion would have us all back working with pen and paper. That's not an idea I relish since my typing is far better than my handwriting. :)

      BSD has been whiling with little to no market-share despite the fact

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Nezer (92629)

      In a way, the consumer is to blame for this.


      Hmm... And here I am thinking the developers should take the blame for bugs.

      Thanks for clearing this up. ;-)
    • by Ant P. (974313)
      OpenBSD had an remote exploit in the IPv6 stack a few weeks ago, does that make it worthless for security too?
    • Re:In other news.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @11:57AM (#18742205) Homepage Journal
      they all contains buffer overflows

      Actually, this kind of crap goes away when you stop using NULL terminated strings and put in size checks.

      • Start using a BSTR or std::string or christ, even CString.
      • If you're going to use a char * as a string, stop using strcpy/strcat/sprintf/strfindthelawngnome and start using strncpy/strncat/snprintf/strfoundthelawngnome
      • If you have to pass a char * as a parameter of some function, also add a parameter that indicates the size of the memory (EX: 'bool IsStringSexy(char *mystring, ULONG mystringlen)')
      • Don't rely that a setting read from some arbitrary place (registry, file) is undeniably correct to laying out structures of memory [LOOKING AT YOU IE AND FIREFOX AND WORD AND EVERY OTHER APP THAT CRASHED DUE TO A MALFORMED DOCUMENT]
      • Or how about this: DON'T USE C. Have a small interpreter for a (provably) safe, high-level language, written in C or something else that you can compile to machine code. Keep the interpreter small enough that you can actually check it over quite thoroughly for all kinds of security holes and bugs. Then write everything else in that high-level language.

        The cause of an awful lot of security holes is just the simple fact that people write in a language which is much lower level than what they really need.
        • Re:In other news.. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by alphamugwump (918799) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @02:53PM (#18743531)
          I see this "X language is magically secure" stuff all the time. No, it isn't. The fact that your language is higher-level does not make it more secure. Look at PHP. It's horrible, far worse than C.

          Or perhaps you prefer Java, and think that running your code in a VM is a silver bullet. Think again. If you want that code to actually do anything, you're going to have to give it access to the outside world. Your web app can still let people do things they shouldn't. Security is not just about buffer overflows and SQL injection; it's about anything that could let someone get access they shouldn't have. Which can happen from plain old bad logic.

          Admittedly, it is easy to make mistakes with C. But C is pretty much the only thing to write a kernel in. In a device driver, you have to mess around with real memory, and real IO, and that sort of thing. More importantly, C is old enough so that its common security mistakes are already known. You'd have a much harder time with some random language.

          Basically, a "secure" language is not one that prevents you from doing things you shouldn't. What you want is a language that makes it easier to write secure code than to write insecure code.
      • Re:In other news.. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Aoreias (721149) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @03:20PM (#18743745)

        Actually, this kind of crap goes away when you stop using NULL terminated strings and put in size checks.

        It's a much more complex problem than simply using 'safe' functions. People don't always put the correct size into the size field, and there are entire classes of exploits, e.g. format string vulnerabilities [wikipedia.org], that don't use the traditional buffer overflow mechanism at all.

        I've heard that the BSD folks have a saying that a bug is just an attack nobody has the intelligence to turn into an exploit yet. I take it you've never written code that crashes?

    • It doesn't matter which operating system you use - they all contains buffer overflows.

      I've worked on at least one system with hardware/firmware/OS protection against buffer overflow and other memory access issues. I'm certain there are others.
  • by dekkerdreyer (1007957) <dekkerdreyer@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Sunday April 15, 2007 @10:47AM (#18741651)
    Luckily this hack isn't for the ordinary Linux user. The hack requires WPA encryption to be activated. As anyone who uses Linux knows, WPA requires recompiling the kernel, compiling wireless tools, compiling wpasupplicant, recompiling both when you find that the default configuration for wpasupplicant is to not use WPA (wtf?), and finally modifying a handful of cryptic configuration files. Once that's done, WPA is still not likely to work with a particular kernel, hardware, and wireless card combination.

    Once again, Linux is safe from such a common attack because only seven people have successfully set up WPA. If this had been a Windows flaw, where every machine natively understands WPA and no work at the command prompt is needed, this would be disastrous.

    This shows that Linux has been taking the right stand. By making the machine difficult to get running, it's unlikely that the machine will be able to connect to anything and become infected. Windows made the mistake of making the machine easy to use, allowing for simply network connection and ease of ownership (OWN3D).

    • by LinuxGeek (6139) * <djand,nc&gmail,com> on Sunday April 15, 2007 @11:03AM (#18741763)
      Humorous, but if someone wants a quick and painless route, check out Ubuntu. I running 7.04 beta on my laptop and wifi works well with my two very different APs in WPA(psk) mode. Installed and working, no tweaking, no manual compiling, no config file fiddling required. After running Linux for 12+ years I am quite happy with the state of Ubuntu.
      • by pizpot (622748)
        my experience this weekend
        1. buy $30 retailplus wireless usb dongle with zd1211 chipset
        2. install ubuntu7.04 (or fedora core 7 worked same way)
        3. install zd1211 driver module by checking it off in Synaptic Installer
        4. install updates by saying yes to update manager
        5. reboot
        6. bliss
        • by pizpot (622748)
          oh yeah, the laptop had no working wired card due to borken...

          step -1: plug usb printer-style cable from cable modem to usb port
          step 0: get online for updates and even while installing from cd!!

          who knew that usb port on my cable modem was for anything?
  • Tag.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 15, 2007 @10:48AM (#18741661)
    DefectiveByDesign? Oh wait ... wrong OS.
    • Not to mention wrong concept. "Defective by Design" refers to systems intentionally created with defects such as DRM that make them less functional, and then have those defects touted as features.

      • by jrumney (197329)

        "Defective by Design" refers to systems intentionally created with defects such as DRM

        ...or kernel modules that taint the kernel by loading binary blobs, supposedly to keep the FCC happy by limiting the frequencies the wireless card can transmit on.

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @10:51AM (#18741683)
    Here [mitre.org] is a reference to a more informative report.
  • by Skiron (735617) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @10:59AM (#18741731) Homepage
    ... this was fixed 4 months ago?

    http://madwifi.org/changeset/1842 [madwifi.org]
    • by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Sunday April 15, 2007 @11:57AM (#18742195) Homepage Journal

      ... this was fixed 4 months ago?

      It looks that way to me.

      Unless this is a different vulnerability, Debian applied the fix [debian.org] over four months ago, two days after the patch was available, and eight days after the vulnerability was first reported [grok.org.uk]

      I saw the article and immediately started aptitude to get the fix, only to discover that I already got it, two weeks before Christmas. Nice.

      • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @03:36PM (#18743869) Homepage
        Slashdot: Last year's news for nerds, stuff that mattered
      • by jrumney (197329)
        You may have got the bugfix via aptitude, but did you build it and install it? Because it's a kernel module, because the kernel ABI is not stable, and because it taints the kernel due to the binary blob radio firmware, the madwifi module is distributed as source only by Debian. This means aptitude will NOT update your running copy for you, only a source tarball which you then need to unpack, build against your running kernel and install.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by strider44 (650833)
      Yes that is the case. It wasn't presented publicly before now because the researcher was using "responsible disclosure", trying to make sure as many people are patched before it becomes general knowledge. That's why you only hear about many Microsoft flaws after they've been actually patched.
      • by strider44 (650833)
        May I point out, however, that it is actually oldish news - last month's Black Hat in Amsterdam was quite obviously over two weeks ago.
  • AFAIK, Atheros drivers aren't even in main kernel tree yet. For the last few years they have seemed to be in perpetual pre-release (0.xx) versions..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 15, 2007 @11:38AM (#18742059)
    Why is a tagging keyword 'haha'?
    • by soliptic (665417)

      Why is a tagging keyword 'haha'?
      Probably because the more childish contingent of Linux zealots who frequent this site unfailingly tag every article relating to a Microsoft/Apple/BSD/whatever security flaw or bug "haha". So now users of all those systems are 'getting their own back'. Pretty juvenile all round really.
  • by Arkaic (784460)
    Of course, it would have been too much trouble for PC World to mention exactly which version of the madwifi driver was susceptible to this particular flaw. So much better to let people dig through changelogs which might address any number of past vulnerabilities.

    I patch and update regularly, so I just wasted some time double checking on a flaw that had been fixed on my system a long time ago.
  • Here's an idea: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The Cisco Kid (31490) * on Sunday April 15, 2007 @12:13PM (#18742343)
    Get rid of wifi cards (PCI as well as PCMCIA), and instead implement the wifi 'client' side with an ETHERNET jack to connect .. well, anything that has or can have an ethernet port. Have a 'router' build in that is accesible and configurable via HTTP and/or telnet. Include a 'bridge mode' where, once configured, the router steps out of the way for cases where you are on a known network where you trust its security, or for 'public' untrusted networks you leave the build-in router enabled, isolating you from unexpected inbound connections.

    Then, you dont need specific 'drivers' for wifi hardware (you just need to support ethernet)
    • by jimicus (737525)
      Excellent idea, with only 3 minor problems:

      1. Adds complication and hence cost. Bit of a problem in a cost-sensitive world.
      2. Doesn't solve the problem - the security risk now moves to a box plugged into your ethernet card. With the added bonus that the only way you'll be able to fix it is via a firmware upgrade - so it's quite possible to brick the box when you upgrade. (Granted, this can be designed around - but I've yet to see a set of "rescue damaged firmware" instructions which were easy for my
    • by evilviper (135110)

      Get rid of wifi cards (PCI as well as PCMCIA), and instead implement the wifi 'client' side with an ETHERNET jack to connect

      You might as well say we should have one driver to allow communication with an external device, and let it handle all the drivers...

      You've merely MOVED the problem, not eliminated it. That external (Ethernet) device can be exploited if it's drivers are equally buggy, and when it is, they've got a direct line to your computer.

      You're also depending on your Ethernet driver to not have an

  • by Durzel (137902) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @01:06PM (#18742773) Homepage
    If this was a Microsoft flaw there wouldn't be any talk of "good PR" in releasing a patch quickly, or any other positive angle. There would be reply after reply about Microsofts' code being bloated, the evils of closed-source, monopolistic tactics, that one time when Bill Gates stood on a cats tail by mistake, etc. Linux isn't the only golden boy, Firefox (vs IE), Google (vs big nasty corporations), etc get just as much ridiculously transparent partisan treatment.

    Vulnerabilities, particularly serious ones, are never good news. At the very least it would cost businesses who have deployed Linux engineer time in fixing (applying patch(es)) the problem, it generates uncertainty in the market - it creates the potential for business managers who just scan the IT news pages to say "didn't Linux have that serious problem not long ago?". This much is true of any OS, particularly one that businesses need to rely on.

    I'm a firm believer in open-source, and I use both Windows and Linux in equal measure both at work and at home. I don't however believe fundamentally that the fact Windows and IE are closed-source automatically make them "poorly written". As has already been remarked a lot of this comes down to usage statistics... with a 90%+ market share you can guarantee that every hacker out there is trying to find fault in every single DLL that Windows ships with. As Linux gains more traction in the desktop & server markets as time goes on you can be sure that there will be most vulnerabilities like this being found. Programmers make mistakes, and there is no such thing as bug-free software.

    I really wish Slashdot could dispense with the hidden agendas, partisan attitudes and blatent fanboyism and not sweep serious vulnerabilities like this under the carpet as if they aren't a big deal. Dimissing them as trivial is - if anything - more damaging than giving them the proper attention.
    • by gad_zuki! (70830)
      >I really wish Slashdot could dispense with the hidden agendas, partisan attitudes and blatent fanboyism

      Then it wouldnt be slashdot anymore. I sometimes think slashdot is a parody of a real tech site. Its kinda funny if you pretend you're reading the onion.
    • Vulnerabilities, particularly serious ones, are never good news.
      But vulnerabilities that have been patched four months ago are never news.
  • What!? (Score:5, Funny)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @02:23PM (#18743343)
    Wait! Someone got WiFi to work in Linux!?
    Okay, easy...just saying this is one area that's always been behind in Linux.
  • FUD Template (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Orochimaru (945515)

    I use [linuxdistro] and am a firm believer in open source software, but we just can't pretend that [securityflawfixedmonthsago] isn't a big deal. Your average Joe user isn't able to install a patch and this just proves that Linux is not ready for the desktop.

"Anyone attempting to generate random numbers by deterministic means is, of course, living in a state of sin." -- John Von Neumann

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