Security leak: Public disclosure of user data without their consent by installing software via pkg

Stefan Blachmann sblachmann at
Thu Apr 8 22:19:02 UTC 2021

The deeper-lying problem is the almost complete lack of policy what is
allowed and not for installer scripts.
And the complete lack of policy what to do in case of violations, no
matter whether intentional or not.

Other appstores (the pkg system is de facto an appstore) have policies
that are being enforced to protect their customers, for example by
(temporarily) taking down apps that behave dubiously.

When in lack of agreed-upon rules/policies/laws the "police" does not
dare to do anything, in fear to hurt anybody's feelings, isn't it then
an useless placebo police?

The issue has been reported and said to be fixed more than three
months ago, and the problem still is there like if nothing had be

If you are not able to understand that advocators and users get angry
rightfully and want to have the deeper-lying issues addressed and
solved, which have led to such problems, then this might be a
complacency issue.
And from another perspective, it might be seen as an entitlement
mentality if developers expect users to fix their bugs, and even
provide them with ready-to-use patches.

I apologize if I hurt feelings by getting angered over this.
But seeing quite some people having tried to get the issue solved in a
quiet, polite manner without achieving any effective progress,
indicated to me that this approach would not be fruitful.
Sometimes it is necessary to raise the voice, even at the risk of
making oneself unpopular.

I would be happy if this incident would lead to a discussion and
setting up rules/policies that in future can prevent such things
happen and persist unsolved.

On 4/8/21, Shawn Webb <shawn.webb at> wrote:
> On Thu, Apr 08, 2021 at 04:50:17AM +0200, Stefan Blachmann wrote:
>> The answers I got from both "Security Officers" surprised me so much
>> that I had to let that settle a bit to understand the implications.
>> Looking at the FreeBSD Porters' Handbook
>> [],
>> it describes the purpose of the package pre- and postinstallation
>> scripts as to "set up the package so that it is as ready to use as
>> possible".
>> It explicitly names only a few actions that are forbidden for them to
>> do: "...must not be abused to start services, stop services, or run
>> any other commands that will modify the currently running system."
>> Anything else is apparently deemed “allowed”.
>> Spying out the machine and its configuration, sending that data to an
>> external entity – perfectly OK. Not a problem at all.
>> This has been proved by the handling of this last BSDstats security
>> incident, where the FreeBSD “pkg” utility is being abused to run
>> spyware without the users’ pre-knowledge and without his content.
>> This abuse is apparently being considered acceptable by both FreeBSD
>> and HardenedBSD security officers.
>> Instead of taking action, you "security officers" tell the FreeBSD
>> users that it is their own guilt that they got “pwnd”.
>> Just because they trustingly installed software from the package repo
>> hosted by FreeBSD, without religiously-carefully auditing every and
>> each packages' pre- and postinstallation script before actual install,
>> using the “pkg -I” option.
>> Indeed, I felt very surprised that the “Security Officer” of “Hardened
>> BSD” chimed in, only to publicly demonstrate his lack of competence to
>> recognize obvious security problems.
>> Like two fish caught with a single hook!
> 1. Ad hominem much? I understand the underlying problem very well.
> 2. Your hostility is incredibly annoying.
> 3. You attribute malice where there is none.
> 4. This is volunteer work, where volunteers have everyones well-being
>    in mind.
> 5. Threatening to go to journalists accomplishes... what? What makes
>    you think journalists are NOT paying attention to this list? What
>    makes you think journalists care about you?
> 6. I really, really, really, really, really hate the "Karen" meme. But
>    it fits incredibly well here.
> 7. Where can I review your patches that fix the problem?
> 8. Entitlement mentality much?
> Sure, the bsdstats package shouldn't submit just on "pkg install."
> Instead of fixing the problem, you went the hostile route.
> I'm sure you won't learn anything from this, but I hope you do. To me,
> it reinforces how random people feel entitled to force their will on
> others.
> Thanks,
> --
> Shawn Webb
> Cofounder / Security Engineer
> HardenedBSD

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