Monday, April 17, 2006

Blame it on Open Source

That's exactly what McAfee AVERT Labs has done. In its latest report, AVERT Labs said that the use of stealth technologies to conceal both malware and commercially viable Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) is on the rise. In fact it said the number of rootkits (malicious programs using stealth technology) submitted to the Labs in the first quarter of 2006 rose by nearly 700% as compared to the first quarter of 2005.

AVERT Labs said, "The "open-source" environment, along with online collaboration sites and blogs, are largely to blame for the increased proliferation and complexity of rootkits."

So how far is this report going to affect the Open Source initiative? It's hard to say. When one thinks of Open Source the first thing that comes to mind is software such as Linux, Firefox, etc., i.e. the good it has brought about. No one really thinks of the dark side, that it's also being used to propagate malware, rootkits, etc. One thing for sure is that the report is going to make people look at Open Source from a new angle.

Open Source has resulted in a multitude of free utilities. But if these open source utilities are going to make a PC vulnerable, we could well see a drop in the number of takers for such freeware. While most freeware users do make a background check before downloading any software, they will be more cautious from now on and will use freeware from only those sources they trust.

How much will software companies that deliver pre-configured solutions capitalize on this report is to be seen. Also we may see enterprises that were looking to reduce costs by deploying open source software rethinking their decision.

It is still too early to tell what the outcome is going to be, so let's just wait and watch.