: "> Microsofts GSP move follows its concerns about the interest a number of foreign governments and agencies have shown in Linux. Last June, the German government said it was moving to standardize on Linux and an open-source IT model at the federal, state and communal levels. As part of this move, Germany signed a contract of support with IBM that would facilitate moving its agencies to Linux and helping develop innovative IT solutions based on open standards. Otto Schily, the German minister of the Interior, said at that time that the contract with IBM enabled the administration to buy IBM hardware and software running Linux under competitive pricing conditions.The German governments move to IBM and Linux followed similar moves by more than 75 other government customers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Air Force and Pinellas County, Fla., are all using Linux, as are agencies in the governments of China, Singapore and Australia. While Mundie made no direct mention of the Linux threat when announcing the program, he said national governments and their principal agencies face greater security threats than do technology consumers and thus should place security at the top of their technology requirements. Microsoft is providing "controlled access to the Windows source code and other technical information," while the no-fee initiative enables program participants to review Windows source code using a code review tool, but this is subject to certain undisclosed license restrictions. The perception that Linux and other open-source software is more secure than Windows has also enraged Microsoft executives, who claim that this is not the case. That sentiment was shared in a November research note from two analysts at the Aberdeen Group, who said open-source software and Linux distributions were the "2002 poster children for security problems." Of the 29 advisories issued through October by the CERT Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, 16 of them addressed vulnerabilities in open-source or Linux products. Seven of the advisories were related to Microsoft products. "Open source software is now the major source of elevated security vulnerabilities for IT buyers," the Aberdeen report said. "The poster child for security glitches is no longer Microsoft; this label now belongs to open source and Linux software suppliers," the researchers said in that note. The GSP follows other Microsoft moves to share code and make its products more secure. As first reported by eWEEK in March 2001, Microsoft launched the Shared Source Initiative, which was followed in January 2002 with the Redmond, Wash., companys Trustworthy Computing initiative, which placed security at the core of all Windows development efforts. Mundie said the GSP also supports and builds on the Common Criteria (CC) certification, which Windows 2000 achieved last October.
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"Linux offers the best potential as an alternative to Windows for server operating systems to reach more heterogeneity in the area of software. The fact that we have an alternative to Windows with Linux gives us more independence as a large software customer and is a major contribution to the economic use of IT in the administration," he said.
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