security review and patches for libpurple

John Bailey rekkanoryo at
Wed Jun 29 21:31:38 EDT 2011

On 06/29/2011 08:21 PM, Dan Auerbach wrote:
> We at the Electronic Frontier Foundation are dedicated to ensuring people have
> the ability to engage in private and secure communication. As we believe the
> open source suite of tools based on libpurple can and should be used for this
> purpose (most securely via the Off-The-Record Messaging protocol), we think it
> is vital to ensure that the software is secure and safe from attack. As such, we
> hope to begin to partner with you in doing an audit of security vulnerabilities
> surrounding libpurple and dependent libraries, and providing patches. In this
> introductory email, we have included some simple initial changes that we believe
> are in keeping with best practices, as well as some changes that close potential
> vulnerabilities. In the coming couple of months, we hope to do a thorough audit,
> and plan to stay communicative about vulnerabilities, offering patches where we
> are able to do so. Our goal is to work with you, so please let us know the
> preferred way to interface with your team for disclosing and patching these
> vulnerabilities beyond the security vulnerability disclosure page.

Hi, Dan, Chris,

First of all, we'd like to thank you for the effort you've shown thus far.  We
always welcome constructive input on how to make our code safer and more secure.
 We welcome such input even more when patches are provided.

For security-related topics we generally prefer to contain discussion to the
security mailing list until we've reached a point where we can discuss with our
packagers and coordinate a scheduled release, at which point we'll move the
discussion to our (private) packagers mailing list.  We make it a point, when
possible and practical, not to discuss security issues in public fora such as
the devel or support mailing lists or Trac until a pached release has been made
available.  In short, you should continue to contact us via this security
mailing list.

> Attached is a document outlining and summarizing suggested changes, along with
> the patches we provide. I have also attached a tar.bz2 of diffs, generated using
> "mtn diff", and a build log. Please see the document for the information
> requested in

Again, thank you for providing these.  And an even bigger thank you for
providing mtn diffs instead of just using a recent tarball!  We will review your
patches as soon as we can.  Once we have reviewed them, we will likely want to
coordinate a release which includes them.

I've quickly reviewed your document and would like to provide two comments on
items I saw in it as points of information:
  * We don't currently use Visual Studio to build Pidgin releases for the
Windows platform, nor do we plan to in the foreseeable future.  We instead use
the MinGW toolkit, often in a cross-compile environment.  This is why we have
Makefile.mingw files throughout our source tree.  Hopefully the relevant gcc
options will apply equally well to the MinGW toolkit's gcc.
  * The Zephyr and Sametime plugins are currently completely maintainerless and
rely entirely on contributed patches from interested users.  We don't really
have any way to test these plugins other than compiling, and we probably won't
be able to explain a whole lot about them if you find you need further
information.  Please don't take that as discouragement, though!

> We would also like to thank Jake Appelbaum (cc'ed) for this help with the review
> process; we hope to collaborate with him for future steps of this review.

We look forward to future discussion and review!

Thanks again,

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