2018 is Year for Open Source Software for Pentagon

It leads to competition to inspire work with open source that supports the mission of the Department of Defense

The US Pentagon is set to make a major investment in open source software, if section 886 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 is passed.

The section acknowledges the use of open source software, the release of source code into public repositories, and a competition to inspire work with open source that supports the mission of the Department of Defense.

Cesare Garlati, chief security strategist at the prpl Foundation, said: “More and more organisations choose open source software not because of cost considerations but to maintain control of the overall technology strategy, so it’s encouraging that the Pentagon is realising the benefits. Compare the code creation and maintenance processes of these commercial entities to more eyeballs on a typical piece of open source software and it’s easy to see why many regard the open approach as the preferred path to stable, secure code.

“Too often, with proprietary software, features are added or removed according to commercial imperatives, internal politics or other corporate dynamics rather than the best interests of the software and users. In open source, it’s all about doing what’s best for the software and the end-user community. There’s a clean, clear, Darwinist logic at play in the open source community where only the best code survives.

“However, there has long been a stigma attached to it that open source software means it’s free, but that is not necessarily the case. To get the best out of open source, it requires skilled professionals and developers as well as global, interoperable standards. They effectively allow firms to outsource the trickiest work to the subject matter experts. These experts create the most secure standards and frameworks possible for designers to follow.”

Mel Llaguno, open source solutions manager at Synopsys, added: "OSS is now a national security concern. The challenge to secure it is becoming evermore paramount for the community."

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