[thelist] News Item: Major Security Flaw in CVS

Jason Handby jasonh at pavilion.co.uk
Fri Jan 24 04:08:01 CST 2003

> We could go on and on debating the various merits of both open source
> and commercial software, but when it comes to overall product security
> and the speed at which vulnerabilities are repaired, OSS has the
> commercial world beat by a long shot. Remote exploits go unfixed for
> *months* in the world of big, expensive applications. Rarely (if ever)
> is that the case with OSS.

The famous exception, of course, being the vulnerability in all BSD-derived
versions of telnetd (the UNIX/Linux telnet daemon). This buffer overrun had
existed for years before anyone noticed it was there.


I wonder if that points up a weakness with the open-source code review
process: people only spend time looking at code that's cutting-edge or
"sexy", and telnetd clearly isn't sexy... At Microsoft (for example)
programmers don't revisit and re-examine code because it's sexy; they do it
because they're paid to. This might mean it's not done as thoroughly or as
fast in many cases, but perhaps it guarantees that it's actually done at


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