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A while back I started an embedded project using the 3.2.10 kernel. Now the project should go into production and the stable kernel is 3.2.16. I would prefer not to upgrade anything to avoid incompatibilities etc. but if serious security vulnerabilities has been plugged from 3.2.10 to 3.2.16 I have to do so.

Where can I find out if security vulnerabilities has been plugged between the two versions? I have not been able to find the answer in obvious places like kernel.org.

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2 Answers 2

One place to look is MITRE's Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures. The search page is here. I did a search on "linux kernel" and found a bunch, but only one in 2012, which is when 3.2 would have come out, right? I don't follow Linux Kernel development closely, but I'm given to understand that the Linux Kernel developers have an attitude that considers most "security holes" as reliability bugs or something like that.

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Most kernel security issues can only be exploited by loading strange or seldom used modules. (this is true for the last two years where I have been watching Linux Kernel CVEs closely).

Example modules:

  • IPX
  • AppleTalk
  • IPv6 (this is not strange, but has MANY features)
  • USB/ISDN-card

So the easiest way to be on the safe side here is to disable hot-plugging and/or automatic module loading. This should be easy on an embedded system.

Apart from that you are never sure with newer features - most CVE were centered around new modules that brought new functionality.

GLibC is another candidate for serious security problems. So if your embedded system allows a shell the attacker will become root - sooner or later.

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