Does open source improve system security?

  • Witten B
  • Landwehr C
  • Caloyannides M
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The current climate of functionality and performance-driven
markets has created enormous code bases, which have helped drive growth
in the US gross domestic product. However, these code bases have also
created an information infrastructure whose vulnerabilities are so
striking as to endanger national and economic security. Distributed
denial of service attacks have demonstrated that such vulnerabilities
can degrade the Internet's aggregate performance, and recurrent virus
outbreaks have inflicted substantial repair and recovery costs on
businesses worldwide. An attacker could examine public source code to
find flaws in a system. So, is source code access a net gain or loss for
security? The authors consider this question from several perspectives
and tentatively conclude that having source code available should work
in favor of system security

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  • Brian Witten

  • Carl Landwehr

  • Michael Caloyannides

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