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MyCareer.com: Open source the answer to dog-eat-dog security

Jul 05, 2001, 12:00 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Eric Wilson)

The author argues that the ultimate solution to security concerns in the real world is through Open Source software: when things are open, security can be verified.

"So I believe, ultimately, for security to be real, it must be 'open sourced.' This concept involves distributing the instructions making up an application with the finished program itself. In this way, the processes underpinning an e-commerce transaction can be made transparent not just what is being done on your system but how it is being done open to inspection by all. (Of course the information involved in the trades themselves is kept private.)"

"Even if an open-source security regime were to prevail in the end, this does not mean high-security software would be free of cost or freely distributed. Open source is not free software in the GNU/Linux sense of the word. However, if you're an e-commerce security vendor, making money out of open-source code is still much tougher hence the resistance to do so. Although the software can be restrictively licensed, enforcing those rights is difficult because end-users can easily modify the code to get around features such as registration dialogs. Then there is the small matter of competitors seeing exactly how a product works and copying hard-won research and development in an instant. I'll admit, technically speaking, the concept is good but the business model stinks."

"And the open-source approach is not going to help Johnny Six-pack running a hotel, either. He isn't interested in learning how to compile applications for himself in order to secure his e-commerce transactions. What he needs is an honest broker or agent who will look after the whole security headache for him. Now we're talking security as a service, which is what people really want. After all, they hire security guards to watch over their shopping centres already, don't they?"

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