Feeds

Google launches security group for open source

oCERT to make the world safe for GPL

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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 essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Know what Ferguson city needs right now? It's not Anonymous doxing random people
U-turn on vow to identify killer cop after fingering wrong bloke
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.