[tbb-dev] Reproducible Builds Summit

Georg Koppen gk at torproject.org
Tue Dec 18 19:32:00 UTC 2018

Nicolas Vigier:
> Hello,
> I was at the reproducible builds summit last week. During the meeting
> there were discussions about various topics related to reproducible
> builds:
>  - reproducible builds for various languages, filesystems and distributions
>  - bootstrapping
>  - rebuilders and user verification
>  - software transparency
> I think the two most interesting discussions for me were about rebuilders
> and user verification, and software transparency.
> = Rebuilders and user verification =
> Some people from New York University have been working on a framework
> called in-toto which can be used to verify before installing a build
> that it has been reproduced by a number of trusted builders:
> https://in-toto.io/
> They have implemented some prototype for Debian.
> Here is how it works:
>  - some independent organisations are running "rebuilders". Those
>    rebuilders fetch new Debian source packages and rebuild them.
>    When the build is finished they publish some json files containing
>    informations about the source package, and the result of their build,
>    and their signature.
>  - apt is modified (using an apt-transport) so that before installing a new
>    package, it connects to known rebuilders and fetch their build
>    informations. If the build has been reproduced by enough rebuilders,
>    then the package is installed.
> I think it might be possible to implement something similar in Tor Browser,
> maybe reusing some parts of their framework.

How does that deal with content signing? Because if you look e.g. at the
.dmg files we produce there is currently no direct link between the
build X rebuilders reproduced and the bundle that is getting finally
shipped. The same holds for Windows although dealing with the
Authenticode signature is easier here.

I had the same doubts when reading, e.g. the CHAINIAC paper about
proactive software-update transparency (with verified builds)[1], but
did not have time to follow-up with its authors to check whether they
got that part actually solved.

> = Software Distribution Transparency and Auditability =
> Benjamin Hof is working on tools for Software Distribution Transparency
> and Auditability:
> https://arxiv.org/abs/1711.07278
> https://debconf18.debconf.org/talks/104-software-transparency-package-security-beyond-signatures-and-reproducible-builds/
> He has implemented some prototypes to improve software distribution
> transparency in Debian, using a public log server which can be used to
> monitor the packages which have been distributed to users. I discussed
> with him how something similar could be done in Tor Browser.
> Here is how it could work:
> - we add a log server which can be used to cryptographically prove:
>    * inclusion of an update in the log
>    * append-only operation of the log
> - when we release a new Tor Browser version, we add checksums of the
>   new mar files to the log.
> - when the Tor Browser updater receives a new update, it checks if the
>   update is in the log, before applying it. If the update is not in the
>   log, then the update is not applied.

Well, the risk here is that this adds another necessary part for getting
updates to users to the whole scheme, which in turn could get e.g.
DDoSed during critical update times.

> - independant monitors analyse the logs. They check that all checksums
>   published in the log correspond to a known release. They can also check
>   that the build corresponding to those checksums is reproducible. The
>   log is public, so anybody can monitor it.
> The main improvement from this system is that it allows anyone to check
> that all the updates used by all users are reproductible builds, while
> today you can only verify that for one downloaded copy of the software.

What do you mean by the latter? The .mar file you personally downloaded
during an update?

It might be worth looking closer at those two ideas and compare them to
proposals like CHAINIAC to get a better sense of where we should head to
(I skimmed Benjamin's paper a bit and see they have a detailed
comparison to CHAINIAC which could be a good starting point).



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