Google Funds Linux Kernel Security Development


Google and the Linux Foundation this week announced the prioritizing of funds to allow long-time Linux kernel maintainers Gustavo Silva and Nathan Chancellor to focus on improving the security of the platform.

With this funding, Silva and Chancellor will dedicate their work to improving kernel security, as well as to associated initiatives, so that the open source software project remains sustainable in the long run.

The pervasive Linux operating system, according to a recent report from the Linux Foundation’s Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF) and the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH), needs additional work on security.

Linux had over 20,000 contributors and one million commits as of August 2020, and thousands of developers work on maintaining and improving its kernel.

Working on the Linux kernel for four and a half years, Nathan Chancellor started contributing to mainline Linux two years ago, under the ClangBuiltLinux project, which focuses on Linux kernel building using Clang and LLVM compiler tools.

The funding will allow Chancellor to dedicate his efforts to identifying and resolving bugs found with Clang/LLVM compilers, as well as on integration systems to ensure the continuity of this work. Next, leveraging these compilers, he will start adding features to the kernel.

Gustavo Silva has been delivering kernel patches for more than ten years and is an active member of the Kernel Self Protection Project (KSPP). Since 2017, he’s been among the top five most active kernel developers, with more than 2,000 commits in mainline.

Silva is already working on eliminating classes of buffer overflows, is proactively developing mechanisms to eliminate entire classes of vulnerabilities, and is also seeking to address vulnerabilities before they hit the mainline.

“Ensuring the security of the Linux kernel is extremely important as it’s a critical part of modern computing and infrastructure. It requires us all to assist in any way we can to ensure that it is sustainably secure,” said David A. Wheeler, director of open source supply chain security at the Linux Foundation.

Related: Serious Vulnerabilities in Linux Kernel Allow Remote DoS Attacks

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Related: Privilege Escalation Bug Lurked in Linux Kernel for 8 Years

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Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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