Tip of the Hat: Heartbleed prompts chastened tech giants to fund OpenSSL

<i>Ars Technica</i> explains how a potential disaster finally convinced top tech firms to fund development of open source software they have been using for years.

It took an undetected -- for two years -- bug that could allow hackers to monitor much of the encrypted traffic on the Web to convince major players in the tech industry to help fund the OpenSSL open source project.

Discovery of the Heartbleed bug, caused by an inadvertent programming error, earlier this month led to panic among vendors and users upon learning it could allow hackers to steal critical data from exposed systems.

The open source project that created and maintains the widely used tool used to encrypt Web communications has long suffered from a lack of funding. In a recent blog post, OpenSSL Software Foundation President Steve Marquess said the project has typically been funded by "$2,000 a year in outright donations" and some hourly consulting fees.

Clearly, software widely used around the world to secure Internet communications needs more support than that -- and major tech players have finally agreed to help out this and other widely-used open source projects.

Computerworld offers a Tip of the Hat to Jon Brodkin of Ars Technica for an incisive look at how only a potential disaster could convince top tech executives to finally help with some key open source efforts. His story looks at how a lack of funding could have helped create the problem, and how the open-source community plans to use the new source of monies.

As Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin told Brodkin in his story Tech giants, chastened by Heartbleed, finally agree to fund OpenSSL, "In retrospect, everything is obvious."

Read more about malware and vulnerabilities in Computerworld's Malware and Vulnerabilities Topic Center.

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