Should I use --enable-expensive-hardening?

Does "expensive-hardening" makes your Tor more secure or less secure? The answer isn't obvious!

The 'expensive-hardening' option replaces a number of underlying bugs with aborts. If any of these underlying bugs was remotely triggerable, it becomes a remotely triggerable abort.

Some possible underlying bugs here are actually harmless -- like the integer underflow bug here in TROVE-2017-001, or the read-one-extra-byte bug of TROVE-2016-12-002[*]. So long as any bugs like these bugs exist, "expensive-hardening" will make your Tor more vulnerable to remote denial of service.

But some possible underlying bugs are potential trouble -- like if we had an actual stack overflow bug or a heap overflow bug. "expensive-hardening" can replace some of these with aborts too. So long as any bugs like these bugs exist, "expensive-hardening" makes it a little more difficult to do RCE or heartbleed-style leaks against your Tor.

The first kind of bug seems much more common in practice over Tor's history. But the impact of the second kind would be significantly worse.

So using "expensive-hardening" in production means "Make me much more vulnerable to remote DoS, but (probably) less vulnerable to RCE or heartbleed."

I don't think that's an obvious "yes", but I'm also not totally sure it's an obvious "no".

Last modified 2 years ago Last modified on Feb 1, 2017, 3:26:16 PM