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From: "Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason" <>
To: "brian m. carlson" <>
Cc: Albert Cui <>,
	Derrick Stolee <>,
	Albert Cui via GitGitGadget <>,
Subject: Re: [PATCH v2] hooks: propose project configured hooks
Date: Wed, 07 Apr 2021 09:53:33 +0200	[thread overview]
Message-ID: <> (raw)
In-Reply-To: <>

On Wed, Apr 07 2021, brian m. carlson wrote:

> On 2021-04-05 at 22:45:10, Albert Cui wrote:
>> Right, this entire proposal is trying to get to a "Git-blessed" solution,
>> and I should make the need clearer. A few reasons for standardizing
>> this come to mind:
>> 1. Many existing "standard" solutions. A multitude of existing solutions for
>> this use case speaks to the fact that a basic config script is not sufficient.
>> I mentioned Husky above, but here are a few more; basically each
>> popular programming language environment has a solution for this.
>> - Ruby
>> - Python
>> - Go
>> - Swift
>> - Node
>> These solutions all handle the installation and updating of hooks. A
>> "" script doesn't handle hook updates, unless you go through
>> the trouble yourself of implementing and maintaining that.
> I think part of the problem is that an automated process to update hooks
> is generally a security vulnerability, since it means that untrusted
> remote code will automatically run on your computer.
> I want to be clear that I understand the desire for this feature, even
> though it's not a feature I would personally use, and the fact that
> there are many approaches means that clearly there are many people that
> do want this functionality.  I have in the past shared hooks with others
> and we have mutually benefitted enormously from that fact.  My concerns
> here are solely about the security aspects of this feature.
>> 3. Improving security. As you mentioned, hooks are difficult to get
>> right from a security
>> perspective, and standardizing on a single implementation allows us to
>> give developers
>> a well-vetted solution with a better security model than what exists
>> today. For example,
>> we're proposing making it very clear to users whenever there's a hook
>> update. This isn't
>> something that existing solutions do.
> I don't think this materially improves security.  All of these options
> have the same security problems, and that's inherent in the solution.
> What we're doing here is basically giving people a built-in feature that
> is the equivalent of piping curl to bash and blessing it as secure when
> it's not.
>> I'll also say in general, the Git project is much more likely to get
>> security right than smaller
>> projects, where oftentimes even popular projects end up unmaintained.
> I agree that Git tries to be careful about security.  It is for these
> reasons that I think Derrick and I have provided you the feedback we
> have here.
>> Agreed. We already did a security review internally at Google. The main
>> feedback was:
>> * We need an explicit opt-in opposed to setting hooks up automatically,
>> e.g. a command line flag like --accept-hooks at minimum. This is primarily
>> to distinguish people who are just cloning a repository to browse the code
>> from people who are developing.
>> * The average user doesn't have the ability to review hooks in general
>> (security is hard and obscuration is easy), and if the user has
>> already opted into
>> this feature because they are engaged in development, it's very likely
>> that they're
>> already running build scripts, so the additional attack vector here doesn't seem
>> like a big issue.
> I think you've hit the nail on the head here, but drawn a mistaken
> conclusion.  The average user doesn't have the ability to review hooks
> in general and therefore cannot make an informed decision about whether
> to enable them, so the behavior we need to have is not to lead them to
> doing things which are risky from a security perspective.
> If my goal is to just build a product and not to run its tests, which I
> do with a decent number of projects, then I can audit a Go or Rust
> project trivially and determine if it executes arbitrary code or not
> during the build process and if so, inspect it and gain confidence in
> it.  In fact, there are many projects which don't execute build scripts
> during the process, and therefore which are completely safe.  This hook
> design changes that calculus dramatically.
> I also want to point out that people clone repositories for a variety of
> reasons.  At GitHub, every team has its own repository with
> documentation.  Literally every employee at the company, regardless of
> role, interacts with a Git repository, even people who do normally
> nontechnical tasks such as our in-house lawyers and our event planners.
> Many of these people are nontechnical, and almost none of these
> repositories has any software development involvement.  There are also
> numerous people elsewhere who may work on projects such as books or
> other non-software in repositories who are nontechnical.  Under the
> current model, the biggest problem these people face is accidentally
> corrupting their local repository and losing data.  With a design that
> prompts them to install hooks, they face the possibility of arbitrary
> code execution.
> The reason I proposed the FAQ we have in our documentation is because I
> answer a decent number of questions on Stack Overflow, in addition to
> questions that involve users that I get pulled into at work.
> Overwhelmingly, the vast majority of users, even developers, are not
> completely comfortable with Git and are unsure about how to use it
> effectively (cf.  If we propose to a user that
> they should do something like enable hooks by adding a prompt, many
> users will automatically say "yes" because (a) they don't understand and
> they trust that Git is prompting them to do something beneficial and (b)
> because they don't know or care and just want to get on with their
> lives.  As a result, we're exposing people to giant social engineering
> attacks on behalf of potentially unscrupulous repository maintainers.
> This is made worse by the fact that we will prompt users even when
> cloning a repo that they have no intention of performing development on
> means that we will have users who are misled here where otherwise
> nothing would happen.
> There is a huge problem with social engineering attacks and phishing on
> the Internet today and I'm concerned that this is going in exactly the
> wrong direction.
> I would want to see a comprehensive security analysis feature taking
> into consideration social engineering attacks, the skill level and
> comfort with Git of the majority of Git users, and the fact that people
> clone repositories for many reasons other than software development.
> It's easy to look at this from the perspective of the typical employee
> at a major tech company and assume that users are generally security
> conscious, comfortable with Git, and primarily engaged in software
> development on the projects they clone, but I'm not sure any of those
> cases are generally true, and anyway there are many counterexamples in
> the real world whose use cases we need to take into account.
> I continue to have serious reservations about this series and approach,
> and I'm not sure that any proposal we can adopt here will address the
> security concerns.  To be frank, I don't think this proposal should move
> forward in its current state or otherwise, since I think the security
> problems are inherent in this approach and fundamentally can't be fixed.
> This is, as should be obvious from my email address, my personal
> opinion, despite my reference to my employer above.  Unless otherwise
> stated, I don't speak for my employer and they don't speak for me.

I agree with pretty much every word you said, in particular the social
engineering aspect of this. In past mails I've referred to elsewhere
I've proposed some Emacs-like "ask" facility for git, but you've
convinced me that that default would be a bad idea for the "user just
clicks yes no matter what" reasons you noted.

Still, I do think there is a way to make this work in a way that's
probably acceptable for everyone:

 * We don't ever ask the user to install hooks, it's something that
   they'd have to know about and pro-actively set up in advance.

 * The security model is entirely focused on not approving changes as
   you "pull" them, but e.g. GPG-verifying the whole chain with some
   pre-setup key.

The use-case (and I've had this use-case in the past) would be something
like a BigCorp which automates its servers/laptops, but would prefer not
to patch/build/ship something like git itself.

So when you "git clone" your corporate repos you get relevant
config/hooks, but not otherwise. We'd of course have a way to discover
that you can set these up & do so after "clone", but it would be
something more like check-mailmap, not something we'd prompt you to do.

I'm personally much more interested in doing something like this for an
in-repo .gitconfig, with us shipping a graduals whitelist of known
config values at differeng safety levels.

That sort of thing really *is* something we could imagine asking the
user about, or even doing by default, e.g. applying a "diff -U<n>"
setting for that repo, picking up non-executable aliases for
non-data-changing git programs etc.

But as you note hooks are really on the extreme other side of that
security curve, which is why in some earlier thread discussing this I
suggested that a much more productive way to start an effort like this
would be the in-repo .gitconfig route. We could start with our N most
safe config variables, and work from there...

  reply	other threads:[~2021-04-07  7:53 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 39+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2021-03-18 22:03 [PATCH] hooks: propose repository owner " Albert Cui via GitGitGadget
2021-03-18 22:29 ` Junio C Hamano
2021-03-18 23:45   ` Albert Cui
2021-03-19  1:28 ` brian m. carlson
2021-03-19 10:27 ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-04-06  0:35   ` Albert Cui
2021-04-07 22:47     ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-06-21 19:36       ` Jonathan Tan
2021-06-21 20:35         ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-03-26  1:43 ` [PATCH v2] hooks: propose project " Albert Cui via GitGitGadget
2021-03-29 23:20   ` Emily Shaffer
2021-04-01 20:02     ` Albert Cui
2021-03-30 15:24   ` Derrick Stolee
2021-04-05 22:45     ` Albert Cui
2021-04-05 23:09       ` Junio C Hamano
2021-04-05 23:40         ` Albert Cui
2021-04-06  0:13           ` Junio C Hamano
2021-04-06  0:27             ` Albert Cui
2021-04-06 23:15       ` brian m. carlson
2021-04-07  7:53         ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason [this message]
2021-04-07 13:09           ` Derrick Stolee
2021-04-07 18:40             ` Albert Cui
2021-04-07 20:02               ` Junio C Hamano
2021-04-07 22:23                 ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-04-15 16:52             ` Ed Maste
2021-04-15 19:41               ` Junio C Hamano
2021-04-15 20:37                 ` Ed Maste
2021-04-15 20:50                   ` Junio C Hamano
2021-04-15 22:28                   ` brian m. carlson
2021-04-02  9:59   ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-04-05 23:42     ` Albert Cui
2021-04-02 10:30   ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-04-03  0:58     ` Albert Cui
2021-04-24  1:38   ` [PATCH v3] " Albert Cui via GitGitGadget
2021-04-28  2:48     ` Junio C Hamano
2021-05-05 19:11     ` [PATCH v4] " Albert Cui via GitGitGadget
2021-06-03  3:31       ` Jonathan Tan
2021-06-03 20:16         ` Albert Cui
2021-06-03 22:10           ` Jonathan Tan

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