BoringSSL: Google Creates Its Own OpenSSL After Heartbleed Pain

heartbleed security, latch chain link door © Sergios Shutterstock

Google isn’t changing the world with BoringSSL, it’s just creating its own version of OpenSSL for its own products

Google is to start using its own version of OpenSSL., tidying up the encryption standard for the products it uses and not relying entirely on the open source community for the code to work correctly.

The decision has come after the revelations around the infamous Heartbleed bug, an OpenSSL vulnerability that was exploited to acquire encryption keys from web servers.

Adam Langley, a Google software engineer, said managing OpenSSL had become too complex as it was adding a large number of its own patches to ensure it worked across its various services.

sheartbeat chalk board security flaw © Roobcio shutterstockBoringSSL in for OpenSSL

It’s now going to rely on BoringSSL instead, but not as a replacement for OpenSSL, code of which it will still use and contribute to. Yet it will also be importing code from other OpenSSL forks, like LibreSSL, as it retakes some control over its encryption.

“As Android, Chrome and other products have started to need some subset of these patches, things have grown very complex. The effort involved in keeping all these patches (and there are more than 70 at the moment) straight across multiple code bases is getting to be too much,” Langley said on his personal blog.

“So we’re switching models to one where we import changes from OpenSSL rather than rebasing on top of them. The result of that will start to appear in the Chromium repository soon and, over time, we hope to use it in Android and internally too.”

Meanwhile, Google has issued a new version of Android KitKat, 4.4.4, which includes a patch for an OpenSSL security issue, but not Heartbleed. Google has delivered a fix for the only vulnerable version, 4.1.1, but it may take time for handset manufacturers to push it out.

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