Feeds

Google launches security group for open source

oCERT to make the world safe for GPL

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Google is spearheading a volunteer workforce it hopes will become the centralized authority for responding to security issues in open source software.

oCERT, short for the open source computer emergency response team, will aim to remediate security vulnerabilities and exploits in a wide range of open source programs by coordinating communication among publishers. According to Google's security blog, the group "will strive to contact software authors with all security reports and aid in debugging and patching, especially in cases where the author, or the reporter, doesn't have a background in security."

Of course, the world is already awash in computer emergency response teams, begging the question: do we really need another one? Johannes Ullrich, CTO for SANS Internet Storm Center, says there could be some overlap with the current US CERT, but he also believes there's room for a group that has a more extensive rolodex of players in the deeply splintered world of open source.

Imagine, if you will, a crucial update being made available in an open source program such as PHP or the GCC Compiler, which are sandwiched into countless other larger programs. Right now, it's sometimes difficult to reach trusted contacts at each of the myriad organizations that use these components. "Putting some manpower behind that, I think, is helpful," Ullrich says.

oCERT is also a good way for Google to give back to an open source community that sometimes feels it doesn't get enough Google love. The Googleplex thrives on customized versions of Linux and MySQL, many of the company's desktops and laptops run a modified version of Ubuntu called Goobuntu and, of course, engineers are busy developing the open source Android for mobile devices. Despite all the benefits, Google submits relatively few changes back into the ecosystem that spawned all these packages, since most licensing agreements generally don't require derivatives to be published if they're not being distributed.

Google's blog post was sparse on details about when the oCERT would go live, who was running it and a contact for people interested in volunteering. We're hoping this isn't the open source equivalent of vaporware.

Update

OK, after that last paragraph, it's fair to say we have egg on our face. We failed to spy this link in the Google post that seems to establish that oCERT is already up and running and, indeed has already issued four advisories. Our thanks to Andrea Barisani, for setting us straight. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
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
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.