[langsec-discuss] Revisiting "Trusting Trust" for binary toolchains [30c3]

Sergey Bratus sergey at cs.dartmouth.edu
Fri Jan 3 20:05:00 UTC 2014

Hello Sven,

    Thank you for the Wheeler reference! Indeed, it would've been good to 
mention it in the talk, as an example of dealing with "Trojan" threats,
as contrasted to the "Babel" threats we focused on. The contrast between
solution approaches is interesting in its own right.

    Of course, Ken Thompson's larger thesis included all kinds of Trojan 
bugs, down to microcode; in that sense, "Babel" might be easier to solve
once we resolve to do so.



On Fri, 3 Jan 2014, Sven Kieske wrote:

> Hash: SHA1
> Hi,
> I sadly didn't have the time to attend to 30c3
> in person, but I watched the video here:
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QogdeTy7cDc
> I just have a small addition regarding the
> "magic wand" mentioned in the beginning.
> To be more precise, the authors refer to
> Ken Thompsons famous "trusting trust"[1]
> and imply that this problem never was solved.
> Well, to my understanding this was solved indeed
> by David A. Wheelers, also famous, dissertation
> "Fully Countering Trusting Trust through Diverse
> Double-Compiling"[2]
> I know that this does not prove anything wrong
> which was shown later in the talk and I find the
> findings really interesting, but I wanted
> to share this information with you, just in case
> you maybe missed Wheelers paper.
> I hope I did understand the talk correctly and
> that my findings are correct, if not, I accuse
> my poor English skills ;-)
> kind regards
> Sven Kieske
> [1] http://cm.bell-labs.com/who/ken/trust.html
> [2]
> http://www.dwheeler.com/trusting-trust/dissertation/html/wheeler-trusting-trust-ddc.html
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