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The Standard: The World's Most Secure Operating System - OpenBSD

Aug 23, 2000, 20:19 (7 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brendan I. Koerner)

"OpenBSD is probably one of the most secure operating systems out there," says Chris Brenton, author of Mastering Network Security. "The crew does a fantastic job of locking down and being responsive when vulnerabilities are found." Such a good job that the U.S. Department of Justice uses 260 copies of OpenBSD to store and transmit its most sensitive data...."

"Over an 18-month period, a team of 10 volunteers vetted OpenBSD's entire source code - all 350 megabytes - weeding out thousands of bugs. Though not necessarily related to security features, those glitches could have been targeted by attackers using "buffer overflows" (which overwhelm a machine with data packets), denial-of-service tools or other elementary hacking techniques. For two years, de Raadt worked 14-hour days, seven days a week to debug his system. Despite his notoriously prickly personality, de Raadt also has managed to attract a legion of collaborators to help him build OpenBSD...."

"OpenBSD's proactive approach is unique among open-source systems, which normally rely on user reports and public forums to find vulnerabilities. The Linux security philosophy, for example, can be summed up as "more eyes means better security" - that is, since the source code is open to peer review, bugs will be quickly spotted and patched."

"De Raadt scoffs at that credo. Most reviewers of open-source code, he says, are amateurs. "These open-source eyes that people are talking about, who are they?" he asks. "Most of them, if you asked them to send you some code they had written, the most they could do is 300 lines long. They're not programmers."

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