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From: b-nordquist at bethel.edu (Brent J. Nordquist)
Subject: clarification - reasons as to why commercial
 software *could* be better

On Thu, 13 Nov 2003, Gadi Evron <ge@...tistical.reprehensible.net> wrote:

> point (3) - when one doesn't have the source code, one finds it more
> difficult, AGAIN, to a level, to find holes in the software.

OK, yes, "to a level".  But:

> NOT every kid in the world who *knows* how to read code, also knows how 
> to even.. use a disassembler. If that takes some kids off the software's 
> "back". it is a plus. Is it a major one? I think it is.

Sorry, I think in an Internet-connected world, it is not.  Many people
have pointed out that it only takes one person to find the flaw and create
an exploit, which is published or leaks out.  Then how many kiddiez or
worm instances will there be at the gate, armed with it?

I didn't save every message for this thread, so if you responded to
Jeremiah, my apologies for missing it.  But I think this is very
significant:

On Wed, 12 Nov 2003, Jeremiah Cornelius <jeremiah@....net> wrote:

> Almost every one of the vulnerabilities that I reference were discovered
> by independent 3rd parties, with access only to derived binary objects.  
> MS - with privileged access to sources - never discovered any of these
> flaws internally.

So if closed source (only object code made public) is really a "major"  
advantage (your word) for the home team with respect to security, why
would the above be true?

I think if Microsoft (or any other company) wants to claim credibly that
closed source is a major security advantage, they need an order of
magnitude more people reviewing their own code.  (It would only be the
combination of the two that would make a difference, and frankly that
isn't even the most important thing in my view.)  MS in particular stands
out because they have billions in the bank... and they couldn't hire
people as clever as the people outside their organization finding these
vulns. without the source, if they really wanted to?  Come on.

-- 
Brent J. Nordquist <b-nordquist@...hel.edu> N0BJN
Other contact information: http://kepler.acns.bethel.edu/~bjn/contact.html
* Fast pipe * Always on * Get out of the way - Tim Bray http://tinyurl.com/7sti


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