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Tip of the Hat: Heartbleed exposes an open source failing

The OpenSSL open source project created a widely used encryption package, but lacks the funds and volunteers needed to support it

By Mike Bucken
April 11, 2014 01:30 PM ET

Computerworld - The wonders of the open source world created OpenSSL, encryption software that today is used to secure online shopping and banking transactions and mobile apps for millions of users around the globe.

Tip of the hat

Computerworld offers a Tip of the Hat to The Register's Chris Williams for his insights on how a lack of oversight of open source technologies also contributed to to the creation -- and the two-year spread -- of the Heartbleed bug that could let hackers decipher encrypted code without the knowledge website owners or their users.

In his story, OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts, Williams points out that OpenSSL "has a core developer team of just four volunteers who rely on donations and sponsorship." Robin Seggelmann, who has acknowledged that he accidentally included the password-leaking bug into OpenSSL, told The Register that "In spite of its many users, there are very few who actively participate in the [OpenSSL] project.

Williams agreed, noting that there's more than 420,000 lines of code in the software, much of it written in C and much of it non-trivial.

The author also offers a long -- and incomplete -- list of popular products that include the bug. They include several Linux implementations, Google's Android 4.1.1, and several networking products from Cisco.

Read more about Malware and Vulnerabilities in Computerworld's Malware and Vulnerabilities Topic Center.



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