Security Task Force

From ArchWiki
Revision as of 23:33, 5 December 2012 by (talk | contribs) (use https for links to
Jump to: navigation, search

Tango-view-refresh-red.pngThis article or section is out of date.Tango-view-refresh-red.png

Reason: please use the first argument of the template to provide a brief explanation. (Discuss in Talk:Security Task Force#)

This is a draft of the proposal to create a Arch Linux Security Team (ALST) centered around Arch Linux. Once the idea has passed, this page will be edited to carefully explain the duties of ALST members.


ALST should help the developers, not add more work to them. Participation in ALST should be voluntary and, with the exception of one or more TUs, left to the non-developers. STF should conform to the Arch Philosophy - following the STF recommendations should be optional for all users of Arch Linux.


ALST should embody the efforts of the "security-conscious" part of the Arch users population. Server owners, maintainers of workstations in production environments as well as concerned personal users would gain the benefit of relatively prompt security updates. ALST should help alleviate two important problems.

ALST Will Strive to Monitor all Packages within the following repositories:

    * [current]
    * [extra]
    * [testing]
    * [community]

Maintainers in the [unsupported] category may be called upon to update packages due to security concerns, however this will be strongly dependent on the various maintainers within the AUR system.

ALST Members will not be responsible for creating interim packages to prevent duplicate PKGBUILDS or packages. Updated Package builds can be suggested to developers and TU's, but it is up to the discretion of the package maintainer to update a particular package.

Mirror update speed

ALST important security notices will include a direct link to the updated package on one of the central servers. This allows the users to manually download the updated package and pacman -U it.

Maintainer's reaction

Arch Linux developers are volunteers with their own personal lives. They might not have time to promptly address updates of their packages. They might have not heard about a recent security update. ALST members would suggest the maintainers to update their packages once an important security flaw has been found.

Likewise the ALST is a volunteer maintained service. Volunteers are welcome to help out the ALST identify and notify packages with security vulnerabilities.


A big security exploit has been found for package-1.5.8. The developer of this package has released 1.5.9 that fixes this exploit. An ALST member picks up this information from some mailing list he/she is following. Since the member believes this constitutes an important security update (see below), he/she contacts the maintainer of package Arch Linux package.

The vulnerable package should be flagged 'out-of-date', and the maintainer notified. Packages maintained by Arch Linux team members will be notified via the bug-tracking system at

Once the maintainer addresses the issue and updates the package to package-1.5.9, the ALST member posts on the "Arch-Security" mailing lists would follow this format:

Arch Linux Security Warning		ALSW <Year>-<Warning#>

Name:      <Package Name>
Date:      <Date Update Released>
Severity:  <Code Warnings
Warning #: <Year>-<Warning>


Product Background
<Package Information>

Problem Background
Description of Exploit

A remote malicious server could execute arbitrary code
on a client by using 'setenv' with the LD_PRELOAD
environment variable. Malicious code could be executed 
on the client machine with full rights.

Problem Packages
Package       |   Repo    |   Group    |   Unsafe   |    Safe    |
Package Name     Current    Network      < 2.0.6-1    >= 2.0.6-1

Package Fix
Link to updated Package Direct on Main Arch Linux Servers
Link to PKGBUILD for Users to build own packages


If you have problems, concerns, questions or appreciation, you
can contact the security team at <ALST Email address>

All notices should be signed using PGP (or OSS equivalents such as GnuPG) to verify message integrity to users watching the ALST Updates.

All packages will have a severity of one of the following.

   * Severe – A critical hole has been discovered. It is strongly recommended to update ASAP
   * High – A noticeable hole has been discovered. Recommend Upgrade
   * Medium – A hole has been discovered. Update when possible.
   * Low – A small hole containing a possible exploit has been found. Update as needed.

Some updates will be much more critical than others, however updates are always recommended in the case of any vulnerability. In the case of a production or test server, updates can be followed at the digression of the user/administrator.

Please note: This is a voluntary service providing advice to the community. Following these procedures is not mandatory.


What constitutes an important security update?

This is left to ALST members. An update to, say, apache would definitely be considered important. On the other hand, member might find a security flaw in gaim not to be of too much importance. How big the security exploit is also affects the reasoning. If it is a relatively popular network program and allows arbitrary code execution then it will probably be deemed important.

While ALST Team Members will strive to stay on top of all security updates, it should be noted that programs with a lower impact may not be immediately updated or noticed by either ASLT members or TU's


ALST members would need an "Arch-security" mailing list, hopefully linked from webpage. For inter-ALST discussions, a forum thread or a mailing list should be enough.

ALST members' duties

The members would need to read their favourite security-related mailing list and act accordingly. TUs might need to build some interim packages, however, hopefully that should only be a small number change in PKGBUILD.