Feeds

Linux vendors attack Forrester report

Some vulns more equal than others

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Analyst Forrester has come under fire from leading Linux distributors for suggesting that Windows and Linux are equally secure.

In a research note published last month entitled Is Linux More Secure Than Windows?, Forrester argues that the perception that Windows is far less secure than Linux is unfair.

In assessing the relative security of open source and proprietary platforms, Forrester looked at factors such as vendors' responsiveness to vulnerabilities, the severity of vulnerabilities and how thoroughly flaws are fixed.

But this analysis is flawed, according to a joint statement by Linux distros Debian, Mandrake, Red Hat, and SUSE issued this week.

"Despite the report's claim to incorporate a qualitative assessment of vendor reactions to serious vulnerabilities, it treats all vulnerabilities as equal, regardless of their risk to users. As a result, the conclusions drawn by Forrester have extremely limited real-world value for customers assessing the practical issue of how quickly serious vulnerabilities get fixed," they said.

The vulnerability data corrected by Forrester is accurate enough, according to Linux distros, it's just Forrester's conclusions they take issue with. They believe Forrester failed to treat open and closed source software the same way.

Forrester's point that closed and open source security are roughly equivalent is in line with those of distinguished academics like Ross Anderson (who is anything but a Redmond lackey). It's also fair to say that how technology is deployed more important than the platform a user chooses from a security perspective.

The four Linux distros helped Forrester create its report. The perceived failure of the analyst to present their case fairly in this instance appears to have provoked an unusually strong rebuke.

Forrester strayed into an area staked out by strongly held, sincere beliefs. It's difficult to strike the right balance in commenting on this area (we speak from experience and have the flames to prove it). If Forrester made a mistake it would seem to be one of drawing sweeping conclusions on security based only on looking at vulnerabilities. The majority of viruses (Windows security public enemy number one), after all, rely on tricking users into running malicious code rather than exploiting a specific vulnerability.

So risk or exposure are better metrics of overall security than vulnerability handling alone. Unfortunately risk is even harded to assess than vulnerability handling. ®

Related Stories

Open and closed security are roughly equivalent
.NET more secure than WebSphere
Security is our biggest ever challenge Gates
IT managers trust Microsoft on security (up to a point)
Human error blamed for most security breaches

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.