Feeds

Lloyd's taking on open source IP risk

Blue blood for new blood

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Exclusive Lloyd's of London is close to offering independent insurance protection worldwide against potential IP litigation involving Linux and open source software. The financial services giant has agreed to take on the risk associated with open source, and is finalizing arrangements to work through Open Source Risk Management (OSRM) who will become Lloyd's sole US representative.

OSRM will assess both the risk of the software in use and the individual company, before passing on the risk to the appropriate insurance company on the Lloyds market. OSRM expects to announce the first customers this Fall, and will initially charge organizations $60 per server.

The partnership between OSRM and Lloyd's will be vendor independent, differing from many of the existing intellectual property (IP) protection programs that are primarily designed to ward off attack from the litigous SCO Group.

Red Hat, Hewlett Packard and Novell in January 2004 all announced separate protection for customers using their Linux products. JBoss in April this year announced indemnification for its middleware, including JBoss application sever, Cache and Hibernate object relational mapping technology.

The type of coverage provided by Lloyd's also promises to be substantially larger than vendor-backed programs thanks to Lloyds' size and capital backing.

"This is a huge step," OSRM chairman Daniel Egger told The Register.

OSRM first announced plans for indemnification with backing from major financial institutions in March 2004. The group was expected to provide the service shortly afterwards in 2004, but Egger said the program had been complicated to arrange.

"We have lined up the capacity. We have the exclusive right to begin to offer this risk category and we have the customers who want the cover," he said.

An OSRM study found 15,000 patent issues in the Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/Python (LAMP) stack. While OSRM believes Linux and open source are, on the whole, safe from IP claims their increasing use by large companies opens the door to suits from those hoping to simply cash in.

Arguably, one of the worst-case scenarios is the so-called "colorable case" - where there is no substance to an IP claim, but a company is forced to waste millions of dollars to defend the claim or settles early for a large sum to make the case go away. The average US patent action is estimated to cost $2m, according to the American Intellectual Property Lawyers' Association.

Those likely to threaten companies and users are commercial software vendors and a growing number of specialist organizations that buy IP patents in order to charge users for their use.

"There is a risk, but it's a material risk," Egger said of Linux and open source. "We are trying to make sure we are not exposing corporates to risk that makes using Linux uneconomic."

Today's vendor-backed plans are unable to provide full protection because they cannot risk protecting parts of the software stack they did not write, he argues. That's a potential issue for organizations with the full Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/Python stack develped by different companies.

"Our long-term goal is to get to a standardized policy," Eggers said. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.