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Despite Recent Vulnerabilities, Open Source Is the Future of Security

security audit“Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.”—Eric S. Raymond, “The Cathedral and the Bazaar”

In his pro-open-source essay referenced above, and published in 2000, the author hypothesized that all bugs in open source software would eventually be illuminated as more and more eyeballs scanned the code in order to improve it. Raymond based his hypothesis on the fact that open source code is created and then revised and expanded upon by an enthusiastic community of programmers.

The recent discovery of Heartbleed, a security vulnerability found in OpenSSL code that is pervasive across the Internet, has led some proprietary proponents to collectively say, “I told you so,”to those who evangelize  on behalf of open source.

But the fact of the matter is that, for whatever reason (most likely the underfunding of the project), no one—not even the National Security Agency—actually applied the open source philosophy to OpenSSL. In other words, had open source coders done their due diligence and repeatedly scanned the code to uncover errors or brainstorm ways in which to improve OpenSSL, it’s likely that Heartbleed would have been patched a lot sooner. But, perhaps relying on the theory that open source is impenetrable because of the strong community inside which it is built, they did not.

What it boils down to is, even with Heartbleed, an open source security vulnerability, freshly in our minds, open source software is still the future. It’s hard to imagine why companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter and Wikipedia would be using open source software if it weren’t.

Anyone who has ever used a computer that runs on commercial operating systems, for example, knows the frequency with which updates are sent to the machines. That fact, coupled with the continuous news around the discovery of serious security flaws in commercial browsers, doesn’t paint a convincing picture of the impenetrability of proprietary solutions either.

As the aforementioned tech juggernauts—as well as governments around the world—continue to embrace open source solutions, it appears as though, despite the community dropping the ball with Heartbleed, managed open source is the future of technology, even when it comes to security. 

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lacey Thoms

Lacey Thoms is a marketing specialist and blogger at Protecode, a provider of open source license management solutions. During her time at Protecode, Lacey has written many articles on open source software management. She has a background in marketing communications, digital advertising, and web design and development. Lacey has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications from Carleton University.

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