Heartbleed OpenSSL Bug Reveals the True Cost of Open-Source Software
NEWS ANALYSIS: The vast majority of those taking advantage of free, open-source software such as OpenSSL do nothing to contribute to its development—and that's part of the problem.Every day brings new reports of the threats posed by the Heartbleed bug. But the discovery of Heartbleed has also unearthed a scandal that's plagued the open-source community for years. The scandal is that giant enterprises are doing nothing to contribute to the development, testing and validation of the free software on which they depend. They are takers, pure and simple. Nothing makes this more obvious than the details revealed by the German developer who was responsible for the bug in the first place, Dr. Robin Seggelmann. Dr. Seggelmann, it appears, was spending his end-of-the-year holiday working to fix bugs in the first version of OpenSSL, the encryption software that was becoming a standard on the Internet. While he was at it, Seggelmann developed a way to create a heartbeat function that could keep encrypted sessions open rather than timing out over time.
The idea of a heartbeat in this sense is to confirm to the computer at the remote end of the session that the link is still active, reducing the need to log off and then re-establish an encrypted session to transfer more data. By doing so, he created a way to dramatically reduce latency in these connections by eliminating the hand-shake delay. It was a very good idea.