To avert another Heartbleed, group narrows list of projects in need of support

The Core Infrastructure Initiative will have a list ready within a few months

A group dedicated to averting another Heartbleed-style vulnerability is narrowing down a list of critical open source projects that will receive its funding and support.

The Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII), which was formed last year to identify open-source projects in need of extra support, expects to name the projects that will receive its backing within a few months, said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, which oversees the CII.

The CII was formed after serious vulnerabilities were found last in the widely used OpenSSL security software. The disclosure caused alarm among companies whose applications make use of OpenSSL and might have been put at risk.

Companies are "deeply concerned" about where the next Heartbleed-type vulnerability might appear, Zemlin said. "CEOs are losing their jobs over this," he said.

The group, which is funded by major software vendors, will spend $2 million a year over the next three years, Zemlin said. The money will be used to support open source projects that might otherwise lack the resources to ensure their code is secure and well supported.

When CII launched, it was relatively easy to pick the applications in need of immediate attention, such as OpenSSL, which is widely used software for encrypting data exchanged between computers.

The Heartbleed flaw in OpenSSL, which could allow eavesdroppers to spy on data, triggered an awareness that some of the most widely used software on the web is in need of more support for better security. CII has also looked at SSH (Secure Shell), NTP (Network Time Protocol) and GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG).

GnuPG, used for encrypting email and signing software packages, was highlighted by a ProPublica story last week as an example of a struggling yet critical open-source project.

After the story appeared, its German developer Werner Koch received at least $137,000 in donations to continue his work, along with $50,000-a-year commitments from Facebook and online payment processor Stripes. CII also provided a $60,000 grant.

The challenge now is to figure out the next batch of projects to examine, Zemlin said. It's a complex process that takes into account factors such as the dependencies between programs and how a flaw in one component might affect another, Zemlin said.

CII must also carefully partition its financial resources, he said. But fixing critical flaws now can lead to big savings later.

"Relative to spending hundreds of millions of dollars remediating a zero-day, we feel like this is a pretty good bargain," Zemlin said.

OpenSSL's 500,000 lines of code are undergoing a third-party audit, Zemlin said. CII held off doing an audit until now because changes were being made quickly to the code following Heartbleed, he said.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Core Infrastructure Initiativeopen sourcesecuritylinux foundationsoftwareExploits / vulnerabilities

More about FacebookLinuxSSH

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Jeremy Kirk

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place