open source

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Google Will Use Cash To Clean Up Open Source

The widespread use of vulnerable or buggy third party code is serious problem facing public and private sector organizations, alike. Just this week, for example, The Wall Street Journal reported that an independent audit of Healthcare.gov, the star-crossed Federal Government website that is the primary health exchange in more than 30 states, is choking on poorly integrated or extraneous code that “served no purpose they could identify.” But what happens when the third-party code in question is open source code? Things get more complex. For one thing: open source is the salt and pepper of the software world: a common ingredient in applications of all sorts. And, as security researchers have noted: many of the so-called “smart devices” that are populating the physical world run variants of Linux, the open source operating system. But because those source code repositories are managed cooperatively and collectively by volunteers, security often takes a […]

Veracode Talking Code

Software Safety Should Be Treated Just Like Food Safety. Discuss.

It’s easy to agree with statements like “the food we buy in supermarkets should be safe to eat.” After all, who wants go to bat for shoddy growers pushing contaminated lettuce, or distributors sending out botulinum-laced fish and meats? But what about software safety? Suffice it to say that if people ate software applications instead of, say, cinnamon rolls, they’d be dropping like flies. That’s because the code that powers those applications is often riddled with potentially dangerous insecurities. Unlike the food industry, however, there have been only fitful efforts by government and industry to address what everyone recognizes is a widespread problem.   I’ve written elsewhere about the relative lack of a “safety culture” in the software industry compared with industries like civil aviation or even food. (Remember: most of the food recalls and alerts that are issued today are voluntary.) But there’s also a decades-long track record of the government taking […]

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That ARM-Sensinode Buy: What Does It Mean For Security And IoT?

We wrote last week about the decision of chip-maker ARM to buy the small(ish) Finnish software maker Sensinode Oy, which has become a big player in the market for software that runs low power devices like embedded sensors. The deal makes sense at the 100,000 foot level – ARM makes chips that power embedded devices, Sensinode makes the software that is powered by them. Perfect. But the deal actually works at a bunch of different levels, as I learned from a conversation with Michael Koster, the co-founder and lead architect at the group The Open Source Internet of Things (OSIOT). Koster is an authority on The Internet of Things and has helped create open-source toolkits and APIs that promote interaction among intelligent devices. Koster said that ARM’s purchase of Sensinode is as much about both firms’ investment in emerging IoT standards for low-powered, intelligent devices like Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP) […]

New Search Engine Wants To Be A Google For Code

Researchers at The University of Cambridge in the UK have created a Google-like search engine that can peer inside applications, analyzing their underlying code. The search tool, named “Rendezvous,” has applications for a number of problems. It could be used to help reverse engineer potentially malicious files, copyright enforcement or to find evidence of plagiarism within applications, according to a blog post by Ross Anderson, a Professor of Security Engineering at the Laboratory.   Rendezvous was unveiled in a seminar on Tuesday by Wei Ming Khoo, a doctoral student in the Security Group working at the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory. The engine, which can be accessed here, allows users to submit an unknown binary, which is decompiled, parsed and compared against a library of code harvested from open source projects across the Internet. Code reuse has become a pressing security issue. The application security firm Veracode has named reused […]