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Security

Security firm regrets Samba disclosure

Digital Defense apologizes for prematurely disclosing the code needed to take advantage of a serious vulnerability in open-source file-sharing program.

A security company has apologized for prematurely disclosing the code needed to take advantage of a serious vulnerability in Samba, the open-source program for sharing Windows files between Unix and Linux systems.

Digital Defense came under fire from the Samba Team on Monday after it released the code with its advisory on the vulnerability. The code allows anyone who downloads it to completely compromise any Samba-based system.

The Samba Team was furious. After tense discussions, San Antonio, Texas-based Digital Defense has published an apology for the foul-up. It asserts that management was not aware the security team was planning to release the exploit.

The code "did not have Digital Defense management approval and included exploit code that was not authorized for external distribution," the apology said. "Digital Defense has taken aggressive procedural and policy measures to reduce the likelihood of a similar recurrence."

One of the employees responsible for publishing the code, Erik Parker, was up-front in accepting responsibility for the incident.

"We posted the statement, but the management here did not authorize the release of the exploit. That was done by a couple of analysts--myself included," he said. The disclosure process was "perfect from day one up until the advisory was released and then it was shocking to (the Samba Team), and rightly so."

He attributed his decision to publish the code, in part, to the vulnerability already being exploited by hackers.

"It's not like we were dropping a bombshell...but it definitely wasn't a good idea. The exploit should not have been released at the time that it was," he said.

Andrew Tridgell, author of the software and joint head of the Samba Team, was outraged.

"It was unnecessary. They also hadn't told us that they were going to do this," said Tridgell, who is based in Canberra, Australia. "They sent us a draft advisory on Saturday for our approval (without the exploit), then they released the exploit with the advisory."

ZDNet Australia's Patrick Gray reported from Sydney.