[ISN] Students uncover dozens of Unix software flaws
isn at c4i.org
Fri Dec 17 03:26:16 EST 2004
By Robert Lemos
December 15, 2004
Students of iconoclastic computer scientist Daniel Bernstein have
found some 44 security flaws in various Unix applications, according
to a list of advisories posted online.
The flaws, which range from minor slipups in rarely used applications
to more serious vulnerabilities in software that ships with most
versions of the Linux operating system, were found as part of
Bernstein's graduate-level course at the University of Illinois at
"Every program is used somewhere--this was a requirement for the
homework--but the programs vary widely in popularity," Bernstein, a
professor of computer science at the university, stated in an e-mail
The advisories regarding the flaws were dated Wednesday and can be
found on the Web site of student James Longstreet.
Bernstein said it was necessary for programmers to learn security,
both to analyze existing programs and to create new ones.
"If any (programmer makes) a security mistake, then your computer is
vulnerable to attack," he said in the e-mail interview. "So we have to
teach all programmers how to avoid these mistakes."
The latest crop of security flaws comes two days after a
software-testing company announced that it had found 985 flaws in the
latest Linux kernel during the past four years using the company's
analysis software. While the number seems high, the company said it is
far lower than the number associated with most commercial software.
Each person in the class during the fall semester had to find 10
flaws, a task that counted toward 60 percent of their grade for the
class, according to class notes posted on Bernstein's Web site. With
only 44 flaws discovered among a reported 25 students, Bernstein said
he is rethinking the grading curve.
"At the end of the course, I decided to throw that scale away and
think about how much the students had learned," he wrote
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