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Trust and vulnerability in open source software

Trust and vulnerability in open source software

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Software plays an ever increasing role in the critical infrastructures that run our cities, manage our economies, and defend our nations. In 1999, the Presidents Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) reported to the United States President the need for software components that are reliable, tested, modelled and secure supporting the development of predictably reliable and secure systems that underscore our critical infrastructures. Open source software (OSS) constitutes a viable source for software components. Some believe that OSS is more reliable and more secure than closed source software (CSS)—due to a phenomenon dubbed `many eyeballs'—but is this truly the case? Or does OSS give the cyber criminal an edge that he would likewise not have? In this paper, we explore OSS from the perspective of the cyber criminal and discuss what the community of software developers and users alike can do to increase their trust in both open source software and closed source software.

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