Why the NSA contributes to X
Posted Sep 18, 2008 2:40 UTC (Thu) by nwnk
Parent article: LPC: Fitting into the kernel ecosystem
The U.S. National Security Agency contributes 2.1% of the patches into X.org; why is not clear.
SELinux. Well, Flask really, since the goal is to be portable to other OSes too.
X's security model is pretty much wide open by default. Once you get an authorized connection to the server, you can touch any X object you want. Flask labelling lets you fix this: you can prevent copy-and-paste from Top Secret apps to mere Classified apps, and so forth.
It also turns out that to do this you have to modernize huge swaths of X's internal object model. The subsystem private data infrastructure got a complete rewrite, and we have an extremely powerful hook system around basically every interesting point in the server's execution. Beyond that, Eamon's been an absolute machine in terms of code quality, smashing compiler warnings and bad APIs all over the place.
The hope, as I understand it, is to have a basic security policy available in the next six months or so that fixes some of the obvious flaws in the X security model, with development on a serious lockdown mode to follow. Don't quote me on timeframe or anything, I'm not doing any of that work, but it's really good stuff and they're definitely one of my favorite contributors to X right now.
to post comments)