When will we learn? May 12, 2022 on Drew DeVault's blog

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2022-05-12 10:00:09

Congratulations to Rust for its first (but not its last) supply-chain attack this week! They join a growing club of broken-by-design package managers which publish packages uploaded by vendors directly, with no review step, and ship those packages directly to users with no further scrutiny.

There are hundreds of additional examples. I had to leave many of them out. Here’s a good source if you want to find more.

The correct way to ship packages is with your distribution’s package manager. These have a separate review step, completely side-stepping typo-squatting, establishing a long-term relationship of trust between the vendor and the distribution packagers, and providing a dispassionate third-party to act as an intermediary between users and vendors. Furthermore, they offer stable distributions which can be relied upon for an extended period of time, provide cohesive whole-system integration testing, and unified patch distribution and CVE notifications for your entire system.

I generally feel that overlay package managers (a term I just made up for npm et al) are redundant. However, you may feel otherwise, and wonder what they could do better to avoid these problems.

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