December 2, 2016

Expect Open Source Security to Become a Major Focus in 2017

By Kayla Matthews

Open Source Security

There is no doubt about it: We are living in the middle of the Digital Age.

But we didn’t get here alone. Thousands of people from all over the world have come together to develop programs, apps and software to get us where we are now. In order to maintain the level of technology that we have become accustomed to, we need the help of coders and programmers from all over to help solve problems and make changes.

When the coding community is invited to manipulate the source code of a program, it is known as open source. But what does open source really mean for your software — and your security?

Open Source vs. Closed Source

Open Source Security

(Infographic Source: Kinvey)

Behind each program you are running, there is a set of codes that allow your computers, cellphones or tablets to read. For large companies, this code is heavily protected. When a company does not allow customers or users to manipulate the code of the program, this is known as closed source.

A company may choose to keep their code secret in an effort to protect their ideas or property. They may fear a competitor stealing their code to make a similar program, or they may not want to lose control of how the program or app runs. But in keeping the code a secret, customers and users are unable to understand how it works or make changes for themselves.

On the other hand, an open source code is available for users, coders and programmers to manipulate as they see fit. For example, Vid.ly is an open source video platform and an excellent example of the benefits one offers. Another popular example is GitHub, an open source community where developers and coding fanatics can follow or create projects.

Using an open source code rather than a closed source code gives users the opportunity to solve problems for themselves or recruit coders to make necessary changes for them. Open source code also gives users the opportunity to see and understand how the program works.

But open source codes can also bring up questions of security.

Why Is Open Source Security Important?

When code is open source, anyone can make changes or view the code. There are no restrictions on who can access that information, make adjustments or pull details.

Unfortunately, this means that hackers also have access to open source codes. Does this mean that open source is less safe than closed source? Not necessarily.

Having a source code open to the public means that many individuals can look for potential areas where hackers may attack. When multiple professionals can make changes when they are needed, codes are updated more frequently. Users can also browse through the code to determine its safety and security, something they are unable to do with closed code.

As we move into 2017, open source codes are only going to become more popular. This also means that security for open source codes will continue to grow.

What Open Source Security May Look Like in 2017

While open source code is no stranger to the world of Database Management systems, 2017 will be the year that it truly takes off. As more companies adopt open source codes as the standard, there will also be a new focus on how to keep that code safe from hackers.

As the demand for open source code grows in 2017, so will the demand for open source security. With more companies using open source code to run their programs, it can be expected that 2017 will see an increase of attacks on open source codes. To combat this and protect users, open source security will increase as well.

With the right security measures, there’s no reason to believe that open source code is less safe than closed source. By allowing teams of coders from all over the world to find potential problems and recommend solutions, open source code may actually be safer than closed source. In 2017, we will continue to see that level of security increase as more companies focus on protecting their open source codes.

By Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a technology writer dedicated to exploring issues related to the Cloud, Cybersecurity, IoT and the use of tech in daily life.

Her work can be seen on such sites as The Huffington Post, MakeUseOf, and VMBlog. You can read more from Kayla on her personal website.
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