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Re: Boom! Loopcasts.
From: "Christey, Steven M." <coley () mitre org>
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2013 00:31:15 +0000

Comparing the PHP *interpreter itself* to other interpreters likely reveals many more vulns.  But as Jericho and I said 
in this summer's Black Hat talk on vuln stats, "just say no" to comparing products based solely on vuln counts.  The 
PHP interpreter has benefited from close attention by researchers like Stefan Esser, but we simply don't know how much 
effort and researcher expertise has been put into other interpreters.  Maybe people just aren't looking as hard.  Also, 
many PHP-interpreter vulns are relatively low severity (e.g. sandbox escapes requiring a code path from an application 
that uses an API that's rarely if ever exposed to untrusted data).  Maybe the devs of other interpreters don't report 
low-risk issues like crashes as vulnerabilities.  Etc...

All that said, PHP is a great object lesson in which easy-to-use features can enable deadly application-layer 
vulnerabilities (e.g. remote file inclusion, register_globals).  It's been interesting to see PHP evolve over the years 
to remove many of the more dangerous features.  And the recent reports on Ruby gem vulns show that the old school 
vulnerabilities don't go away just 'cause there's a newer language.

I'm not aware of any work that consciously tries to compare interpreters using a fixed, comprehensive list of "desired 
security features" beyond the surface-level measurements like number of vulns reported, but that would be some 
interesting work indeed.

- Steve

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