Does Security Really Matter to OpenX?

On December 1st OpenX finally made a public announcement on their blog about OpenX 2.8.8, which fixed a vulnerability that had already been exploited for some time before OpenX 2.8.8 was released. There post claims “If ever we find an issue, we address it quickly and communicate any updates as soon as possible.” Would anyone think a month is “as soon as possible”. What makes the length of time for the announcement even more troubling is that back on November 8 when we posted about the lack of a public announcement, and other issues, we had many visitors from OpenX visiting the blog so if they hadn’t yet thought it was important to make announcement before that they should by then.

Their post begins with the claim that “OpenX takes security seriously.” It hard to take that seriously considering that that this is third post on their blog titled Security Matters (1, 2) making the same claim and yet they have had to continually released fixes to vulnerabilities after those are already being exploited. It is understandable that software can have vulnerabilities, but when hackers are finding and exploiting them first instead of the developers finding and fixing them first it is an indication that their process for insuring the security of their code is lacking.

While there has been a fair amount of time between new vulnerabilities being exploited, and then fixed by OpenX, it is reasonable to consider that it might not be due a limited number of vulnerabilities but a lack of need to exploit more vulnerabilities. From what we have seen there seems to plenty of ad server running outdated versions of OpenX that hackers have been able to exploit well after new versions are released, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that hackers might know of or could easily find more vulnerabilities in OpenX but as long there are enough ad servers running on outdated versions of OpenX to exploit there would be no need to make OpenX aware of a new vulnerability so that it can eventually be used when they run low on outdated ad servers to exploit.

It also is hard to take them seriously when there is such a public example of them not following their own advice. As part of their post they say “It’s critical to the safe maintenance and operation of any software that you not only maintain a current version of the software, but also take steps to regularly audit accounts that have access to your system.” They correctly state that it is critical to keep software up to date, but you don’t have look far to see that they don’t follow their own advice. The blog that they posted to is running WordPress 2.6.2 (if you want to see when websites are running out of date version versions of WordPress and other software check out our web browser extension for Firefox and Chrome). That version is now over three years out of date. They have failed to apply the last 16 releases that included security updates and 27 overall.

The CHANGELOG.txt file for www.openx.com indicates that it is running Drupal 6.19, which, if accurate, means the Drupal install is a year out of date and they missed a security update for that as well.

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