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OpenSSL: the New Face of Technology Monoculture 113

chicksdaddy writes: "In a now-famous 2003 essay, 'Cyberinsecurity: The Cost of Monopoly,' Dr. Dan Geer argued, persuasively, that Microsoft's operating system monopoly constituted a grave risk to the security of the United States and international security, as well. It was in the interest of the U.S. government and others to break Redmond's monopoly, or at least to lessen Microsoft's ability to 'lock in' customers and limit choice. The essay cost Geer his job at the security consulting firm AtStake, which then counted Microsoft as a major customer. These days Geer is the Chief Security Officer at In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital arm. But he's no less vigilant of the dangers of software monocultures. In a post at the Lawfare blog, Geer is again warning about the dangers that come from an over-reliance on common platforms and code. His concern this time isn't proprietary software managed by Redmond, however, it's common, oft-reused hardware and software packages like the OpenSSL software at the heart (pun intended) of Heartbleed. 'The critical infrastructure's monoculture question was once centered on Microsoft Windows,' he writes. 'No more. The critical infrastructure's monoculture problem, and hence its exposure to common mode risk, is now small devices and the chips which run them.'"
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OpenSSL: the New Face of Technology Monoculture

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  • Is anyone surprised? (Score:5, Informative)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @06:38PM (#46828421)
    We already established that often corporations will use free software because of the cost, not because they're enthusiasts, and often those that are enthusiasts for a given project are specifically interested in that project only, not in other projects that support that project.

    Besides, it's disingenuous to claim that no one knew that there were potential problems, the OpenBSD people were not exactly quiet about their complaints about OpenSSL. Of course, rather than considering their complaints on their merits, they were ignored until it blew wide open.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @07:08PM (#46828613)

    I have been a bit surprised that all these companies using OpenSSL (Google, Yahoo, Facebook, etc) haven't ensured that this critical piece of technology is getting the support it needs to be done correctly.

    Google has made a great number of contributions to OpenSSL.

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @07:32PM (#46828789)
    With respect to the discovery of heartbleed closed and open are equivalent. The bug was found by testing the binary not by eyes on source code.

    That said, proprietary code can be open too. Some proprietary libraries are available with a source license option. You may have to ask, their ads don't necessary mention the source license option. It confuses some readers.
  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @09:38PM (#46829493)

    Yeah, no one tested it with the source before going against the binaries. Are you fucking high?

    No, I merely read the account written by the folks who found heartbleed. It was automated testing of a live system. Closed or open source happens to be irrelevant for this particular discovery.

    "“We developed a product called Safeguard, which automatically tests things like encryption and authentication,” Chartier said. “We started testing the product on our own infrastructure, which uses Open SSL. And that’s how we found the bug.”" []

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