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Information Security Magazine: Open-Source Security - Open Source Under The Hood

Mar 25, 2001, 19:37 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Pete Loshin)

"Vendors are increasingly including open-source components in their commercial products. What impact does this trend have on product security?"

"Almost no one can afford to build their own new products from scratch anymore, and the problem is magnified for vendors of network appliances: They've got to deliver a functional, competitively priced server, including software and hardware, while still turning a profit. Vendors of other products, from operating systems to software suites to end-user workstations, are feeling the pinch as well."

"Considering this environment, it's not surprising to find vendors increasingly turning to open-source code when creating new products. Yet buyers may not always be aware that inside their shiny new firewall lurks an open-source OS, such as Linux or FreeBSD. Network security appliances designed to do firewalling, intrusion detection and other security functions often rely extensively on open-source OSes and utilities. But many other products include open-source components as well. Apple's new Macintosh OS X, for instance, is based on Free BSD 3.2 and the Mach 3.0 project from Carnegie Mellon University. Apache, BIND, Sendmail and Perl are all widely used in both commercial and non-commercial products."

"Among the obvious reasons developers turn to open source are cost and security. Clearly, vendors can keep their costs down when they don't have to build their own components or buy licenses for commercial components. Why build a Web server when you can use the best one around-Apache-for nothing? Why build your own OS when you can use FreeBSD? Why not include open-source security utilities with a commercial security product?"

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