Linux Foundation Invests $452,000 in Open-Source Security Projects

By Sean Michael Kerner  |  Posted 2015-06-22 Print this article Print
open source security

The Linux Foundation's Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII) is funding three projects aimed at helping to improve security for open-source code.

The Linux Foundation's Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII) today announced that it is investing $452,000 in new grants for three open-source projects, as part of CII's continuing mission to improve open-source code security.

The Linux Foundation created CII in April 2014 following news of the Heartbleed OpenSSL vulnerability. In February 2015, Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin told eWEEK that CII raised $5.5 million to help offer grants and assistance to open-source projects.

CII's financial backers are Adobe, Bloomberg, Hewlett-Packard, VMware, Rackspace, NetApp, Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Google, Fujitsu, Facebook, Dell, Amazon and Cisco.

Until now, CII did not have its own direct leadership, but that is changing with the hiring of Emily Ratliff, senior director of infrastructure security for CII.

"I'll be a dedicated CII resource and have a day-to-day focus on the project," Ratliff told eWEEK. "CII is a large, multi-million dollar initiative that requires full-time leadership to move beyond point fixes toward holistic solutions for open-source security."

Prior to Ratliff's hiring, CII was managed via an advisory board and a steering group. Ratliff noted that while the steering group and advisory board both suggest the direction CII takes, there is often significant staff work necessary to pull together those proposals so that they can be voted on by the steering group.

Among the three new open-source efforts that CII is now funding is the Reproducible Builds Project, which is receiving a $200,000 grant.

"Every distribution signs their build, and every project has the capability to release signed builds," Ratliff explained. "What is missing is for the capability of those builds to have the same hash when built at different times on different systems."

The goal with the Reproducible Builds Project is for the application binaries to match exactly so that the end users can compare what they get from the distros with what the developer and/or package manager intended to create. Ratliff explained that reproducible builds will allow any subverted build machine to be quickly identified.

Another new open-source project to get CII funding is the Fuzzing Project, which is receiving a $60,000 grant. Fuzzing is a common code testing approach in which random inputs are thrown at an application to see what happens. Ratliff noted that the Fuzzing Project most frequently uses the  zzuf, Address Sanitizer and american fuzzy lop fuzzer tools.

"The majority of the project's effort is not improving the fuzzers [though they do] but in interacting with open-source projects to submit bugs and ensure that they are fixed," Ratliff said.

Also receiving CII funding is the False­-Positive­-Free Testing project, which has its roots in a closed-source tool and will receive a $192,000 grant from CII to evolve the project in open source. Leading this effort will be Pascal Cuoq, chief scientist and co-founder of TrustInSoft, which uses the Frama-C platform to guarantee software has no flaws.

"The bigger goal of this project is to provide the community with a tool that finds new bugs in numerous open-source projects critical to security," Ratliff said. "To achieve this, more work is necessary; in the next 10 months, Pascal Cuoq's team will be working with various open-source communities to accomplish this."

Ratliff noted that CII is continuing to focus on identifying projects that need help.

"CII is also focusing on working with healthy open-source communities on creating a baseline of best practices for open-source software to establish healthy thriving communities such that they don't need help from CII," Ratliff said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.


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