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Thinking Security: Stopping Next Year’s Hackers by Steven M. Bellovin

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Chapter 13. Keeping Software Up to Date

A wandering minstrel I—

A thing of shreds and patches,

Of ballads, songs and snatches,

And dreamy lullaby!

Nanki-Poo in The Mikado—W. S. GILBERT AND ARTHUR SULLIVAN

13.1 Holes and Patches

Of all of the tools in the technical workshop, few are as loathed as the security patch. On one hand, they’re a nuisance that tends to introduce entropy into the original code base. On the other hand, patches are utterly necessary. Software is always imperfect; when imperfections manifest themselves as holes, there are few choices but to spackle them, sand them, and paint them. The alternative—the sysadmin equivalent of moving some furniture in front of the hole, if I may continue my metaphor—is not just unattractive, ...

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