Linux Foundation rolls bunch of overlapping groups into one to tackle growing number of open-source security vulns

OpenSSF to take projects from CII and OSSC under its umbrella

The Linux Foundation has formed the Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF) with founding board members representing companies including IBM, GitHub, Google, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, NCC Group, and Red Hat.

The OpenSSF is a consolidation of several pre-existing efforts in the same space and intends bring the Open Source Security Coalition (OSSC) and the Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII) under one roof.

The CII is an existing Linux Foundation project that has wide support, including from AWS, Facebook, Huawei, Cisco, Intel, Qualcomm, and VMware, as well as most of the OpenSSF founder members mentioned above.

The CII remains in place, but "in the long term, the CII will dissolve efforts with work happening under the OpenSSF umbrella," according to the FAQ. In the meantime, the plan is that the CII will work through the OpenSSF project approval process, and contribute its resources.

OpenSSF logo

The OpenSSF logo

The Linux Foundation said that OpenSSF is not just CII renamed. "The CII was funded largely by grants, OpenSSF will be supported by Linux Foundation membership dues with targeted organization contributions to support initiatives."

The Linux Foundation said another project to be absorbed is GitHub's OSSC, and "all of the OSSC members and their projects will now be a part of the OpenSSF". The related GitHub Security Lab will remain.

OpenSSF has five initial working groups, which other than the last one closely match the "key areas" announced by GitHub last month. These are:

  • Vulnerability disclosures
  • Security Tooling
  • Identifying security threats to open-source projects
  • Security best practices
  • Securing critical projects

Most are self-explanatory. The last is intriguing in that "critical" has not been defined. There is perhaps a clue in this FAQ from CII, which asked: "Why didn't you think about doing this before the lack of funding for OpenSSL resulted in Heartbleed?" Heartbleed was a bug in OpenSSL, disclosed in 2014, that allowed theft of keys and passwords from secure servers.

"We're doing what we can now collectively to identify critical projects being overlooked or underfunded so that we drastically reduce the chances of this happening again," said the FAQ.

OpenSSF includes a governing board, a technical advisory committee, and a separate technical steering committee for each working group.

The foundation has published resources including this paper [PDF] by Microsoft's Michael Scovetta, a principal security PM manager.

Based on data from a Sonatype report, Scovetta said that the number of days between vulnerability disclosure and actual exploits is now just three, and that more than half of JavaScript components contain at least one vulnerability.

He made several suggestions aimed at developers, including threat modelling and the use of security tools, and also suggested checking code copied and pasted from Stack Overflow for vulnerabilities. Scovetta also noted that many open-source developers are not paid, "but their work product is routinely used to power for-profit businesses and other organizations".

Such developers may not have the incentive or the funds to focus on security issues, and the OpenSSF, and the projects it consolidates, are part of the industry's response. ®

Other stories you might like

  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?
    Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

    In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

    Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

    Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

    Continue reading
  • China-linked Twisted Panda caught spying on Russian defense R&D
    Because Beijing isn't above covert ops to accomplish its five-year goals

    Chinese cyberspies targeted two Russian defense institutes and possibly another research facility in Belarus, according to Check Point Research.

    The new campaign, dubbed Twisted Panda, is part of a larger, state-sponsored espionage operation that has been ongoing for several months, if not nearly a year, according to the security shop.

    In a technical analysis, the researchers detail the various malicious stages and payloads of the campaign that used sanctions-related phishing emails to attack Russian entities, which are part of the state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec Corporation.

    Continue reading
  • FTC signals crackdown on ed-tech harvesting kid's data
    Trade watchdog, and President, reminds that COPPA can ban ya

    The US Federal Trade Commission on Thursday said it intends to take action against educational technology companies that unlawfully collect data from children using online educational services.

    In a policy statement, the agency said, "Children should not have to needlessly hand over their data and forfeit their privacy in order to do their schoolwork or participate in remote learning, especially given the wide and increasing adoption of ed tech tools."

    The agency says it will scrutinize educational service providers to ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations under COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

    Continue reading
  • Mysterious firm seeks to buy majority stake in Arm China
    Chinese joint venture's ousted CEO tries to hang on - who will get control?

    The saga surrounding Arm's joint venture in China just took another intriguing turn: a mysterious firm named Lotcap Group claims it has signed a letter of intent to buy a 51 percent stake in Arm China from existing investors in the country.

    In a Chinese-language press release posted Wednesday, Lotcap said it has formed a subsidiary, Lotcap Fund, to buy a majority stake in the joint venture. However, reporting by one newspaper suggested that the investment firm still needs the approval of one significant investor to gain 51 percent control of Arm China.

    The development comes a couple of weeks after Arm China said that its former CEO, Allen Wu, was refusing once again to step down from his position, despite the company's board voting in late April to replace Wu with two co-chief executives. SoftBank Group, which owns 49 percent of the Chinese venture, has been trying to unentangle Arm China from Wu as the Japanese tech investment giant plans for an initial public offering of the British parent company.

    Continue reading
  • SmartNICs power the cloud, are enterprise datacenters next?
    High pricing, lack of software make smartNICs a tough sell, despite offload potential

    SmartNICs have the potential to accelerate enterprise workloads, but don't expect to see them bring hyperscale-class efficiency to most datacenters anytime soon, ZK Research's Zeus Kerravala told The Register.

    SmartNICs are widely deployed in cloud and hyperscale datacenters as a means to offload input/output (I/O) intensive network, security, and storage operations from the CPU, freeing it up to run revenue generating tenant workloads. Some more advanced chips even offload the hypervisor to further separate the infrastructure management layer from the rest of the server.

    Despite relative success in the cloud and a flurry of innovation from the still-limited vendor SmartNIC ecosystem, including Mellanox (Nvidia), Intel, Marvell, and Xilinx (AMD), Kerravala argues that the use cases for enterprise datacenters are unlikely to resemble those of the major hyperscalers, at least in the near term.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022