Static linking improves security and updating

Published: Monday, Feb 22, 2010 Last modified: Wednesday, Apr 14, 2021

Despite what GNU and opensource projects think, statically built apps are the way to go.

Security benefits of statically built binaries

Shared libraries are often touted as being good for security. No need to rebuild, you just replace the binary and everything linked to say an updated gets the security fix.

Likewise one security problem in a shared library makes all the binaries dependent on it vulnerable.

The good security benefit of statically built libararies is that you elimate the library path. So you can’t hack binaries like so:

LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/ /usr/bin/firefox

Or perhaps a binary with setuid right escalation.

Also since statically built binaries only compile in the object code they actually use from the library, the surface area of the attack is greatly reduced.

As we’ve seen in the last couple of months, updates to libjpeg and libpng can also involve ABI changes, meaning complete rebuilds in any case.

Please read the stali FAQ for more argumentation.