Standardizing on security

Thursday, 15 January 2004, 11:48 AM EST

Things that are created in an open fashion tend to be the best of breed. They benefit from the entire world seeing them at their most basic level, and parties collaborating to enhance them and make them better. Open technology is an example of this.

The Internet would be very different today had it not been built on the open model. Through Requests For Comments (RFCs), Internet Engineering Task Force drafts, and other open forums, the development and discussion of ideas and technologies has flourished into standards that, despite their age, are as good now as when they were conceived. In most cases, open is best, because it produces the best results.

This rule has not held true with Linux security standards, which are virtually nonexistent. The open-source community is quick to cast haughty judgment on any software suffering security problems that is not open source; like a purple chicken, these products are singled out and pecked to death. But there have not been significant changes in the security model of UNIX, and by extension, Linux, in at least a decade. Linux security has failed to benefit from the open development model it claims makes it the best.

By Hal Flynn at SecurityFocus.

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