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InformationWeek: Open-Source Software Doesn’t Have To Be Unsafe

Asking questions about Linux’s security features can bring
a stream of hotly disputed and widely varying responses.
Linux
proponents remind everyone of the operating system’s similarities
to Unix and that Unix is the most secure operating system. Others
point out that Linux isn’t actually Unix and, as a result, suffers
from security vulnerabilities not found in its older sibling.”

“Some people won’t address Linux’s nuts-and-bolts security
measures at all. Rather, these folks are afraid of its open-source
coding philosophy. They suspect that most open-source software is
programmed by hacker or cracker types, and that these nefarious
folks leave back doors in their software so they can get back into
it later-after it’s running something critical for someone’s
company.”

“If you’re tempted to move to Linux but are afraid of precisely
this kind of danger, you can do little to prevent it on a technical
level outside of some reverse coding of your own to determine if
your prospective software does indeed have any back doors.
Alternatively, you could contact the software’s creators and voice
your concerns. Seeing how they respond could go a long way to
easing or confirming your fears.”

“On the other hand, you could embrace the open-source model as a
benefit, rather than as a threat to security. Linux’s security
benefits from its similarities to Unix. Once “hardened,” Unix can
turn into a near-impenetrable operating system. Its philosophy of
coding small applications in a single-function architecture and
linking them via scripting also helps avoid the security loopholes
often found in larger applications.”

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