Apr 29, 2014

Why is open source software generally considered more secure?

More than once I’ve heard people say that if software is not open source, it isn’t really secure. Is there any truth to this, and if so, why?

Why Open Source Software is More Secure than Proprietary Software

"If you see the immense success that Linux, Firefox, Android and other software have achieved over the years, it’s all thanks to the power of open source. What makes open-source software so great is that it is a result of selfless work of thousands of developers from around the world, who, in their free time, volunteer to create or help build their favorite applications.

Open-source software gives developers and users alike the ability to browse, modify, and redistribute the source code thus leading to more transparency. So, if a person X creates a particular software and he or she couldn’t manage to fix a bug, then someone from halfway round the world might spot that bug and help this developer. This is why a lot of people think that going the open-source way makes the software more reliable and secure. "

Mac OSX is a secure platform I have been using for years, although it''s not open sourced. The reason why open source software more secure is that there are a lot of people digging into the source code, hence, chances are higher than properity software for finding bugs.

“Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are hollow.” - Linus Torvalds

Because the source code is open to everyone to inspect, there is a greater chance that someone will identify backdoors, security hole, bugs, etc. Of course, for this to be true, there have to be more eyes on it, so if Joe Schmo writes some piece of open source software and no one ever sees it, there would be no security benefit to being open source. However, for major projects such as Firefox, GIMP, Python, etc, there are going to be LOTS of eyeballs.
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