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InternetWeek: Report Rekindles Open Source vs. Microsoft Security Debate

Nov 23, 2002, 07:00 (24 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Antone Gonsalves)

"Debate over the security of open-source software is sure to intensify, if companies start replacing Unix and Microsoft products with Linux and its freeware cousins. That hasn't happened yet. Sales of new Linux operating-system licenses declined 5 percent from 2000 to 2001. But revenue from the sale of Linux systems is projected to grow from $80 million last year to $280 million in 2006, says IDC Research. If open-source software grows in popularity, it will surely be the target of more hackers.

"The way Aberdeen sees it, open-source software has a disadvantage in security because no single organization is responsible for releasing patches, Aberdeen analyst Eric Hemmendinger said. While Linux has a passionate development community ready to tackle problems quickly, most other freeware has fewer guardians. Therefore, IT organizations need to take these conditions under consideration in deciding whether or how to use open-source products. Users who are unprepared to fix vulnerabilities themselves are not ready to deploy freeware, Aberdeen asserts.

"CERT believes Aberdeen drew too much from its numbers. The organization doesn't draw any conclusions from its advisories on the vulnerability of open-source software vs. Microsoft or any other seller of proprietary applications. Instead of comparisons, the group focuses on identifying and studying security problems it considers most serious based on CERT's own metrics. That covers about 20 percent of all known vulnerabilities, said Shawn Hernan, senior member of the CERT technical staff..."

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NewsFactor: Is Linux Really More Secure Than Windows?(Oct 12, 2002)