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Freek Lijten's Blog: The real problem of the hash table dos attack

Note: This article was originally published at PHPDeveloper on 31 December 2011.
PHPDeveloper

In response to some of the comments being made about the hash table Denial of Service attack recently posted Freek Lijten has posted his thoughts about the real problem with the whole situation - how it was handled by the communities involved.

Interesting they may be, but I want to address what in my opinion is the real problem: The way the communication around it was handled by different projects and the fact that the exploit could still exist at all. [...] In the presentation Wälde and Klink talk about their disclosure process. The PHP project had them wait 3 weeks for a first response while this is obviously a serious matter.

He argues that things like a commit message mentioning a DoS prevention fix instead of just mentioning the fix have the potential to do more harm than good. He also points out that other communities were notified of the problem (like Python) and some still haven't responded to the issue.

This attack was the result of good research and it is important that it is disclosed. More importantly however is the fact that organisation got by with years of not noticing it and even worse, reacted very poor after being informed. I can't say I have a ready solution to avoid these kind of things in the future, perhaps that will prove to be an interesting discussion.