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Study Says Open Source Software a Security Risk 86

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the sky-is-falling dept.
chareverie writes "Fortify Software released a study where they concluded that open source software poses a large security risk to corporations who have implemented it. They reason this by stating that the fault lies within the open source communities and their failure to adhere to minimum security practices. Fortify Software studied 11 open source software packages, where the application server Tomcat was determined to be the best. The other 10 were found to have poor results, with those being Derby, Geronimo, Hibernate, Hipergate, JBoss, Jonas, OFBiz, OpenCMS, Resin and Struts. Jacob West, manager of Fortify's research group, reminds that purpose of the study was 'not to condemn open source software, but rather to point out that the security practices need to improve because open source adoption by enterprises and governments is growing.'"
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Study Says Open Source Software a Security Risk

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  • ZOMG!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by clang_jangle (975789) * on Monday July 21, 2008 @06:23PM (#24281291) Journal
    Wait, so you're saying a vendor of proprietary security software [fortify.com] is criticizing FOSS security?!?
    Why, this is just too much, how will we ever recover? And they even based it on 11 whole OSS projects... Game over!
  • by MostAwesomeDude (980382) on Monday July 21, 2008 @06:29PM (#24281349) Homepage

    Tomcat and OpenCMS, to be specific. And I don't use any of them.

    This might be interesting news to me if they found problems with: Apache 2, PHP 5, Wordpress, Gallery 2, or Python 2.5, which is basically what my site runs on.

    And yes, I know there's security problems with PHP and Wordpress. I'm just pointing out that they aren't targeting more popular software; wonder why?

  • Judge for yourself (Score:5, Interesting)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday July 21, 2008 @06:49PM (#24281569)
    Maybe the story wasn't reported right but here is a list of their issues with open source:
    • No easy access to security information on Web sites for security experts
    • No confidentiality of security issues vs general bugs.
    • No specific contact for security issues.
    • Lack of response from contacts
    • Don't provide the same level of service that commercial products offer.

    I'm not an expert on open source and security but I get the feeling that the authors judged open source software based on closed source standards. They author complain that disclosing security issues with general bugs was a problem. Did the author not understand that full disclosure is one of the tenets of open source? The last gripe is that the service wasn't the same with lack of contacts and responses. Judging by the summary it appears that the author just monitored the community forums. Did the authors even pay for support? When you pay for software and support, you should get it. When you don't pay for software or support, why should you deserve service?

  • by mysidia (191772) on Monday July 21, 2008 @06:51PM (#24281587)

    Closed source/propetiary software doesn't adhere 100% to industry "best" practices, such as providing a prominent link to security information on their Web site either.

    It's just not as easy to see where closed source is lacking, because, well: you don't have the source to conduct research into the security flaws.

    If the source was not public, you in many cases, would have never known that X practice wasn't being followed by certain elements of the software.

    Closed software can ignore practices whenever convenience, and since the source is closed, they are all but immune to this type of analysis.

    A true comparison requires actually obtaining the source to proprietary software and using that to its full advantage to find security flaws.

  • Re:ZOMG!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday July 21, 2008 @07:00PM (#24281715)
    JBOSS is a division of Red Hat, and Red Hat provides extensive JBOSS support. In fact, JBOSS running on RHEL 5 has a higher security rating than almost every other commercial software package. My guess is that the authors of the article decided to go with the community version of JBOSS, which does not have the support from Red Hat. This is somewhat typical of attempts to make open source packages look bad: talk about enterprise security, then evaluate a non-enterprise package.
  • by fatp (1171151) on Monday July 21, 2008 @09:26PM (#24283137) Journal
    According to the article, the biggest security risk of Open Source Software is the lack of a support hotline number.
  • by jrumney (197329) on Tuesday July 22, 2008 @04:53AM (#24286061) Homepage

    Many of the projects they evaluated are Apache projects. The Apache Foundation has a private list for security bugs (security AT apache.org) so their complaints on that basis are unjustified for those projects at least. And I would be very surprised if they found security bugs in all of those projects in order to test the responsiveness of the developers, so I guess they sent some random mail that was probably justifiably discarded as spam.

  • Re:Where to start... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by julesh (229690) on Tuesday July 22, 2008 @05:55AM (#24286401)

    FTFA:

            Fortify identified a total of 22,826 cross-site scripting and 15,612 SQL injection issues associated with multiple versions of the 11 open source software packages examined.

    The projects in question:
    Tomcat, Derby, Geronimo, Hibernate, Hipergate, JBoss, Jonas, OFBiz, OpenCMS, Resin and Struts.

    For those who don't play in Java often:

    Derby is an embedded database.
    Tomcat, Geronimo, JBoss, Resin and JOnAS are Java (EE) app servers.
    Hipergate and OpenCMS are (you guessed it) content management systems.
    Hibernate is a persistent framework.
    Struts is a web framework.

    So of any of these, it seems that the only projects that would be open to XSS or SQL injection would be the CMS products. Unless they're referring to the web administration for the app servers?

    The only way to have SQL injection attacks in javaland is if you're not using prepared statements or if your database driver isn't preparing/escaping properly.

    So they're saying two CMS projects have tens of thousands of XSS and SQL injection vulnerabilities?

    You're just on the edge, I suspect, of the reason they didn't get good responses from the maintainers of the code for the "vulnerabilities" they reported. That's because, in most cases, they probably weren't vulnerabilities. The authors of the report are the producers of a static analysis tool that -- you guessed it -- detects potential XSS and SQL injection vulnerabilities. Of course, it (like all such tools) has a very high false positive rate.
    In the case of code that automatically generates SQL code algorithmically (not using hard-coded prepared statements, for example) like Hibernate, or generates HTML code algorithmically (like, say, pretty much any JSP implementation or templating language), the number of false positives is going to be huge.

    Any bets they didn't bother stripping out those false positives before reporting the "vulnerabilities"?

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