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UK Conservatives Slammed Over Open Source Stance

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the fully-support-my-party's-stance-on-the-issue dept.

Security 281

Golygydd Max writes "The UK government has been criticised by the opposition Conservative (Tory) party for its lack of support for open-source software. Now, according to Techworld, a security company that has examined the Tory plans has come out against the use of open source software, citing the number of security problems inherent in the software. This is a sensitive issue for the UK government, still smarting from the loss of 7m family records from HM Revenue and Customs in 2007. What makes this criticism interesting is that this is an attack on the policies of what will certainly be the next British government — it's unusual for a party to be criticised like this before it comes to office. It's an indication of how IT is going to be a battleground in the future general election."

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281 comments

Not first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26748697)

Fuck you first posters.

Hmmmm.... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26748699)

> it's unusual for a party to be criticised like this before it comes to office

Clearly timothy is unfamiliar with UK politics.

Re:Hmmmm.... (5, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749633)

> It's an indication of how IT is going to be a battleground in the future general election.

Indeed Mr AC, you're right.

The UK doesn't have battleground issues in politics like the US, the UK is plagued with football team style voting, most of Yorkshire will vote Labour, most of London will vote Conservatives, the rest of the country will vote one or the other depending with a few Lib Dem pockets (Sheffield, Cambridge) littered in between.

It doesn't matter what their policies are, people don't care about that, the people in Yorkshire (disclaimer: that's where I live) will as always go on about how Thatcher ate their babies in the 70s/80s and so vote Labour, the people in rich areas will go on about how Labour caused a big recession in the 70s and vote Conservatives and the few parts of the country capable of intelligent, dynamic thought will actually vote for the party that actually fits their political hopes best.

People here rarely seem to vote on the merit of a party's politics or agenda but instead based on whatever x party did 20 to 40 years ago and those that weren't around then still vote on what party x did 20 to 40 years ago because their parents have whined to them all their lives about how hard party x made life for them all that time ago.

I think part the problem is that in the UK we get no political education whatsoever, kids grow up without a clue as to what left wing and right wing are, what the different flavours of conservatism for example are, what liberalism and libertarian are and where our parties sit in these areas. We're never taught the importance of voting, or how our vote can effect the outcome of an election, hell most people don't even know what the house of Lords is, they think parliament is one big single chamber of sheer boredom. I find this quite shocking, because whilst I can see the merit in music class, religious education, art and so on I really do think politics is perhaps more important, yet oddly entirely neglected. I could quite happy have lived without the hour a week spent in music class, or the 2 to 3 hours spent on English literature (although language is of course important), I understand some people do want to know this, but it should've been optional whereas I'm not convinced politics should be. We already have history lessons to teach us about our and the world's past so I simply cannot see what is more important about analyzing Wordsworth's Daffodil poem, searching for things that Wordsworth probably never really actually intended us to decide was there as a hidden meaning in the first place to merit a complete national ignorance of how our country is run and how our elected powers work.

I wonder if part the reason there's no will to change this is because both Labour and the Conservatives know that whilst no one has a clue about politics then one or the other is guaranteed to get in via the current football team voting mentality and as such there will be no threat to power being taken away from either of them- when one has had a few years, the other is bound to get in, rinse and repeat.

I think this is the fundamental difference between British and American politics at least, whilst you do get Republicans who always vote Republican and Democrats that always vote Democrat at least you had the likes of Colin Powell endorsing the Democrats because he realised despite them being the opposition, they had the better policies at the end of the day.

Re:Hmmmm.... (1)

Randy Savage (1465063) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749749)

I think, given the amount of media we encounter today, the standard is to be slightly more educated about politics. We may find ourselves surprised.

Re:Hmmmm.... (3, Informative)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749829)

most of London will vote Conservatives

Er, is this a different London to this one [bbc.co.uk]? Or this one [wikipedia.org]?

The South East and South tend to vote Tory. London is pretty mixed.

Re:Hmmmm.... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26749839)

How does this get modded as 'informative' when, while it does contain some facts, much of it is either factually incorrect or misinformed nostalgia?

Particularly glaring is

most of London will vote Conservatives

London [bbc.co.uk] is the only part of the South-East where Labour have a majority.

I can't even be bothered with the education stuff.

He's from Yorkshire (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26749955)

Which means that he doesn't really know what goes on in London.

However, and you omit this reason (which is WHY it got informative mods) and it is 100% true. A HUGE number of people STILL blame anything that's going wrong now with what Mrs Thatcher did. They still say you can't vote Tory because Mrs Thatcher was a Tory. They complain that the problems are all because we've been turned into Americans by Mrs Thatcher.

REALLY weird.

Re:Hmmmm.... (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749957)

It's a local thing, a fair few people here in the North just refer to the central south east area as London so apologies for being a little unclear on that.

But my question to you is your last comment- are you really trying to suggest the UK does have a politics education for the period kids have to be in education (i.e. pre-GCSE until Labours recent push for mandatory schooling to 18). If so can you point me to it? My education was split between Bristol and Leeds as I moved from Bristol to Leeds when I was 13 and at neither of these schools did I encounter any kind of politics education.

Bit of a Yorkshire bias?. (2, Insightful)

fantomas (94850) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749941)

ok I am just having a laugh cos I know you were teasing too on the old north/south divide, we're all southern softies and you're hard as nails with ferrets down your trousers... but most of London doesn't vote Conservative. More like a split between Labour/Lib/Tory.

I lived in Hackney for ten years and that's hardly a rich place, there's not a lot of love for Thatcher and now Cameron there. Reckon there's probably more Cameron voters in the posh end of Sheffield than in Hackney or Brixton...

But yeah we probably got the Tories coming, very depressing. It's feeling more and more like the 30s every day, the BNP will probably get a lot of votes in the white working class heartlands as well, I think that's something we've got to worry about, when socialist voters turn national socialist....

Re:Hmmmm.... (1)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749667)

Clearly timothy is unfamiliar with UK politics.

I don't see why this hasn't been modded up.

Although the current government is massively behind the Conservatives in the polls, the date for the election hasn't even been set yet. It is likely that we will have a change of government at the next election but stating it as fact in a summary is still a mistake at this time.

better than usa (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26748715)

Whenever America disappoints me, I look to the UK with the Nanny-state and their repeated .gov breaches. Thank you to the Queen for giving us a country for a lesser comparison.

The British like Americans seem to be incompetent (5, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26748721)

...Now, according to Techworld, a security company that has examined the Tory plans has come out against the use of open source software, citing the number of security problems inherent in the software...

I think we need to be objective here. Software both closed source and open source is created by human beings.

By nature, these human beings make mistakes.

The question then becomes: Which model of software development fixes security issues faster? We should collect statistics here and convince these Britons that OSS is still the best model around.

We should also remind the skeptics about OSS, that more than 80% of internet traffic is handled by OSS systems, so if OSS were that insecure, it would show...fast.

Re:The British like Americans seem to be incompete (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26748793)

We should collect statistics here and convince these Britons that OSS is still the best model around.

Yeah, maybe we look here https://opensource.fortify.com/ [fortify.com] They scanned 103 projects with a total of 24668646 loc and found a total of 403 error which makes for 1 error in 61212 loc or 4 errors per projects. Not too bad I'd say. Oh, btw of those 403 errors found 383 are already fixed.

Re:The British like Americans seem to be incompete (5, Insightful)

williamhb (758070) | more than 5 years ago | (#26748939)

I think we need to be objective here. ... We should collect statistics here and convince these Britons that OSS is still the best model around.

Because there's nothing more objective than deciding what conclusion you want to convince people of before collecting the statistics! (You don't happen to work for Gartner, do you?)

They started it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26749427)

I mean, they just say "security problems inherent in the software" but the Tories didn't SAY what software. Just that it should be OSS. So how can some company say that "the software has security problems" when they don't even know what software is going to be used???

Re:The British like Americans seem to be incompete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26749225)

80% of traffic is spam, so how is that OSS doing now that you have some perspective? ;)

And produced by closed source windows machines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26749971)

OSS is routing packets 100% effectively. It's the closed source OS that is causing most of those packets to be spam.

(PS I thought 80% of it was porn. And 80% of it was BitTorrent/P2P piracy, which makes about 260% traffic, 20% of which is wanted).

What a credible argument against OSS (5, Insightful)

Walkingshark (711886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26748747)

"Our own research, however, has concluded that open source software exposes users to significant and unnecessary business risk, as the security is often overlooked, making users more vulnerable to security breaches," said Fortify vice president, Richard Kirk.

US outfit Fortify Software has come up with research to prove it.

Uh, wow, a US company that sells software doesn't want the British government to switch to open source software? What a radical position to take! Of course, it couldn't have anything to do with the fact that its hard to price gouge a rich government for security software if they're not running propriatary crap. I'm sure if they had their way the Brits would all be running Vista and MS Office.

"Sells software"? Microsoft Partner! (4, Informative)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 5 years ago | (#26748879)

A simple Google Search [google.com] shows rather more than just being a vendor of some random proprietary software. Fortify is a Microsoft partner which has indulged in joint product launches with them [microsoft.com] and this isn't even mentioned in the original article.

This is yet another example of a Microsoft inspired campaign of lies. This group never changes and they and their software should be automatically excluded from all state contracts for ethical violations.

Re:"Sells software"? Microsoft Partner! (5, Informative)

tokabola (771071) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749037)

The "press release" by Fortify for this claims that Larry Suto performed the test. He has a reputation for faulty, perhaps even fraudulent, testing methods. He also only tested 11 specific Java apps (and Fortify sells "audited" versions of those apps). The tests were performed using Fortify's software, no other testing software was used. So the accuracy of this test relies on the accuracy of Fortify's software, which hasn't been independently tested as far as I can tell. The press release also mentions findings by the Forrester Group, who are well known for a history of spreading inaccurate FUD about non-MS software.

Re:"Sells software"? Microsoft Partner! (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749163)

As much as you might be right, it doesn't change the fact that it works. It's a little bit like the wikipedia problem - it can cite 100 sources that all use information lifted off wikipedia, it just seems reliable and independently confirmed even though there's really only one source. In this you got one piece of FUD "confirming" another piece of FUD and to the general public it will look like "massive independent confirmation" instead of "whole lot of FUD being passed aorund in their own FUD-circle". A lie doesn't become less of a lie if you keep repeating it, but it does become more credible unfortunately.

Re:"Sells software"? Microsoft Partner! (2, Funny)

pipatron (966506) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749315)

It's a little bit like the wikipedia problem - it can cite 100 sources that all use information lifted off wikipedia, it just seems reliable and independently confirmed even though there's really only one source.

citation needed.

Re:"Sells software"? Microsoft Partner! (-1, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749089)

like the OSS crowd, i'm sure they merely sourced their data to fit their own agenda.

to suggest there aren't security concerns around oss is dangerous and misleading. if your objective about it and remove the emotion so common in these arguments you will see the following.

OSS lacks QA - show me a OSS project that government is likely to use that has any quality assurances. the big font stating "use at own risk" is a massive turn off for government and rightly so.

OSS takes control away from the customer as to who supplies their patches - who's making those patches? would any OSS project be willing to stand up and say "yes i accept the risk of jail time/legal action if this patch turns out to bite my government customer in the ass"

these are merely the security concerns. yes there is the usual stupid argument of being able to see the source code - but here is a clue for you - that's hellish expensive and blows the OSS is cheap myth out of the water.

this sounds like government playing you guys like a fiddle, and your singing their tune like blind mice.

Re:"Sells software"? Microsoft Partner! (4, Informative)

romanval (556418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749141)

OSS lacks QA - show me a OSS project that government is likely to use that has any quality assurances. the big font stating "use at own risk" is a massive turn off for government and rightly so.

Um.. Microsoft's EULA basically says the same thing.

Re:"Sells software"? Microsoft Partner! (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749263)

on your home version yes. a customer as big as the uk government? they have bulk licensing terms that ensure security fixes (provided they stay on the upgrade tread mill of course).

such security fixes could dry up overnight on a OSS project. that's the whole point i'm trying to get through to people, start thinking like you've got 100 million dollar projects relying on this stuff. who are you going to trust this to, some guy called bob on sourceforge, or a multi billion dollar company with resources to get you out of the shit?

Re:"Sells software"? Microsoft Partner! (4, Informative)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749371)

Well the US DoD seems to be trusting to OSS with forge.mil [slashdot.org]. I know the company I work for does a variety of UK government contracts as well and we're using more and more open source (mainly Eclipse and its plugins, Protege and OWL in my area of work).

Besides, what's the real difference between relying on an OSS project with no license fee for five years then (possibly) having to migrate and learn something new but similar versus being charged year on year for Office 2003 then having to migrate to 2007 and all its new UI and still being charged year on year?

Re:"Sells software"? Microsoft Partner! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26749481)

I'd trust my own employees with access to the sourcecode, or lacking employees competent in the area, consultants with the same source code access. With the consultants I'd also have the added bonus of being able to replace them, where they not able to fix my problems :)

You know, you _do_ have to pay for support, FOSS or closed source. But you do get what you pay for. And with FOSS, that includes the ability to switch vendor without switching the software.

Re:"Sells software"? Microsoft Partner! (4, Interesting)

myxiplx (906307) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749487)

err... less of the FUD please.

First of all, why on earth are you assuming a multi million dollar project is going to be using software supported by some guy called bob?

Rewrite that as using open source software supported by Canonical, Novell, Red Hat or Sun, and all of a sudden Open Source is competing on much more equal footing, and your first argument goes out of the window. After all, you could just have easily bought some closed source software off 'Bob' for your multi-million pound project.

What that, you don't trust Bob's software, and would rather buy from a big company? Funny that.

And do you *really* think Microsoft's EULA disclaimers don't apply to large organizations? Bill Gates didn't get Microsoft to where they are today by the company being dumb. I've seen their volume license terms, and if anything they're *more* restrictive, not less. By all means, quote me a paragraph or two from one of these 'favourible' EULA's that show me I'm wrong, but somehow I don't think that's going to happen.

Re:"Sells software"? Microsoft Partner! (2, Insightful)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749717)

If security fixes dry up on OSS, the UK government can just get the source code and pay *anyone* to fix it. How is this better than relying on just one company, especially when that one company is a well-known scofflaw that has incurred the biggest fines in the history of EU law?

This is when OS shines (4, Insightful)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749777)

such security fixes could dry up overnight on a OSS project...start thinking like you've got 100 million dollar projects relying on this stuff.

This situation is PRECISELY when open source shows its strength. Take the massive annual license fee that you would need to pay MS to provide such support and hire your own, competent IT staff to maintain the code you want. First this means that you are creating jobs in the UK rather than paying some foreign company which should be a very important consideration for the UK government especially in the current climate. Secondly you now have your own local experts to provide support, implement the features that you want, provide support etc. etc. This puts you in a far better position than having to ring up MS. You own guys will be familiar with your usage and can give advice based on what they know the code does rather than on black-box trial and error experience. Finally you are contributing any changes and code back to the community helping those people that pay the taxes in the first place. Since this may also encourage other firms to invest in local expertise rather than ship money abroad this can help the local economy.

Re:"Sells software"? Microsoft Partner! (1)

MadMidnightBomber (894759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749925)

The point of OSS is that you can do your own security fixes, and not have to wait 7 years for a patch [pcworld.com].

If you think that large parts of critical UK infrastructure are not already running on BIND, postfix, sendmail and apache then you are a bit behind the times.

Re:"Sells software"? Microsoft Partner! (1)

HammerToe (111872) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749967)

How is this any different to a large company (think HP, Sun, IBM, etc) supporting Open Source and providing the client with the same kind of licensing and guarantees? Open Source of Closed Source has no real relevance on the level of support you get. Well in fact it does, with OSS you have the potential to choose your support provider.

-Matt

Re:"Sells software"? Microsoft Partner! (2, Informative)

wrook (134116) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749307)

OSS lacks QA - show me a OSS project that government is likely to use that has any quality assurances. the big font stating "use at own risk" is a massive turn off for government and rightly so.

Um.. Microsoft's EULA basically says the same thing.

Not only that, but with OSS you can actually do a risk assesment by inspecting the source code. In the case of proprietary software that gives no warantee, how can I asses my risk?

What I find interesting is that in most cases you really want to "use at your own risk", after having assessed that risk properly. Because, if I buy a piece of software from Mario's Super Software company for $100, but it blows up in my face for $10 million.... my $100 refund isn't going to comfort me all that much...

Re:"Sells software"? Microsoft Partner! (1)

anon mouse-cow-aard (443646) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749621)

and that is exactly the sort of commercial conditions negotiated by government... good satisfactory or money refunded. Which is entirely useless. Sometimes they go the other way... you get government people wanting vendors to sign up for unlimited liability, which they tend to balk at... for years... that's no fun either. What government often succeeds at is volume discount. But having government sue a tax paying corporation, likely employing someone who plays golf with the Minister/Secretary of.../ grand poobah... ? unlikely.

Re:"Sells software"? Microsoft Partner! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26749511)

OSS lacks QA - show me a OSS project that government is likely to use that has any quality assurances. the big font stating "use at own risk" is a massive turn off for government and rightly so.

That may be true, but part of accepting the risk of OSS is that you also can take an active part in making it better. And in some cases, perhaps more so than by being a beta-tester of a closed commercial software. Provided that a particular OSS is fairly mature in the project cycle, has a fairly large userbase, and has a big enough team of developers who are responsive and attentive to the users, you can get a nice development and feedback loop that rivals or exceeds the QA testing of comparable commercial offerings.

(Even if you can't program worth a gnat's fart nor read source code, nor have money to donate to a project, as an OSS user you can still contribute. You do your part by reporting all unknown bugs, the conditions that cause them, and by discussing particular interface issues and possible fixes or improvements.)

It may not have any assurance of quality, but with the great possibility for refinement in some OSS applications, that doesn't mean there isn't any quality there. More often than not, OSS also has the goal achieving excellence. Some very good OSS applications have made their name and reputation on that aspect.

Re:"Sells software"? Microsoft Partner! (3, Informative)

donaldm (919619) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749673)

like the OSS crowd, i'm sure they merely sourced their data to fit their own agenda.

Yes like FUD.

OSS lacks QA - show me a OSS project that government is likely to use that has any quality assurances.

Really I guess you have not looked at Redhat or Novel support.

OSS takes control away from the customer as to who supplies their patches

Now that trolling. If you don't like the software then you can always write your own. Of course if you like the software you can post bug reports or even fix it yourself and if you don't have the expertise you can hire someone to do that. Try doing that with closed source or proprietary software. As for the people who supply patches all you need to do is look at the "Help" or even the source to get the name of the people who are maintaining the package.

these are merely the security concerns. yes there is the usual stupid argument of being able to see the source code - but here is a clue for you - that's hellish expensive and blows the OSS is cheap myth out of the water.

Sigh! If you have done a cost benefit analysis then you would clearly see that a "supported" open source operating system is much more cheaper and reliable than a proprietary solution. You honestly don't think that just because you install a Linux distribution that everything is going to work forever, you need an administrator and depending on how much you value your data you will need some level of vendor support which is normally much cheaper than a proprietary solution.

The grammar Nazi in me states you should always start a sentence with a capital letter as is a stand alone "I". After all that is very basic English.

Re:"Sells software"? Microsoft Partner! (4, Informative)

cowbutt (21077) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749733)

I don't think anyone would propose that a government just take a random FOSS project from freshmeat.net and put it into production, least of all with anything resembling sensitive data.

However, both Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server have both achieved Common Criteria [wikipedia.org] EAL4+ assurance, making them equivalent to Solaris, Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP in the eyes of the evaluation bodies and therefore suitable for many roles within government IT systems.

Re:What a credible argument against OSS (3, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749103)

Completely shoddy, backwards arguments, too:

any flaws on commercial applications tend to get patched a lot faster than on open source, as the vendors producing the software have a lot more to lose than an open source programmer

This ignores the "many eyes" factor, and the additional effect that anyone who finds a security vulnerability can also patch it, and can inform people of the patch at the same time as the vulnerability. Contrast this to proprietary software, where anyone who does find a breach will also find that the best they can do is report it to the vendor and hope for the best -- and when some of them take many months to be patched, it may be worthwhile for them to start exploiting it, if for no other reason than to get Microsoft to take them seriously.

All of those have been argued to death... Let's assume I'm completely wrong. There's still the fact that there are many corporations which support open source. If an IBM, or a RedHat, or a Canonical ships an insecure product, they have every bit as much to lose as a proprietary vendor -- often moreso, as they tend to have quite a lot more competition.

All of which has very little to do with the supposed counterargument:

We need to move in the direction of what are known as 'open standards' - in effect, creating a common language for government IT. This technical change is crucial because it allows different types of software and systems to work side by side in government.

Microsoft aside, there is plenty of proprietary software that not only supports open standards, but actually revels in them. Unless the argument about security implied that there's an inherent insecurity in ODF itself, I don't see what the relevance is.

However, this article unfortunately presents it as an argument of security against hot new stuff. I don't think anyone is urging the government to become less secure.

Doesn't make sense (3, Insightful)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26748749)

...it's unusual for a party to be criticised like this before it comes to office.

How is it unusual? It happens all the time. And anyway, the whole summary doesn't make sense.

The UK government has been criticised by the opposition Conservative (Tory) party for its lack of support for open-source software.

And, then:

a security company that has examined the Tory plans has come out against the use of open source software

So, the security company agrees with the current government? How is this news?

Re:Doesn't make sense (4, Informative)

Walkingshark (711886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26748759)

Not to mention its an American company with a product to sell, and that product's utility is strongly diminished by using open source software.

Re:Doesn't make sense (1)

Laukei (1099765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749313)

The Tories aren't the current government. Labour are. [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Doesn't make sense (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749345)

That's right. Which is exactly what my original comment said. The Tories are criticising labour for not supporting open source. The (third party) security company supports the current government, not the Tories. I.e. The security company are saying that the Tories criticising labour for not using open source is wrong.

Re:Doesn't make sense (1)

cowbutt (21077) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749753)

The Tories aren't the current government. Labour are.

It does make me feel like I'm living in Bizarro World when the Tories are defending civil liberties and promoting the use of FOSS, however...

An indication? (5, Insightful)

JPortal (857107) | more than 5 years ago | (#26748781)

"It's an indication of how IT is going to be a battleground in the future general election."

Not really. Politicians will grasp at anything to make sensational claims about their opponents. Doesn't matter if it involves IT, their sex lives or what they eat for breakfast.

American here, maybe politics are better in the UK. (but I doubt it)

Re:An indication? (5, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26748829)

Doesn't matter if it involves IT, their sex lives or what they eat for breakfast.

Unfortunately with some MPs it may involve all three.

Re:An indication? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26748875)

IIRC, Hillary was made fun of for saying she likes her coffee "Sometimes black, sometimes with cream", so...

Re:An indication? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26749197)

and all at the same time at that

Missing step ???? (4, Insightful)

Galactic Dominator (944134) | more than 5 years ago | (#26748803)

1. Identify greatest long term threat to my industry

2. Conduct "Research" on threat and publish to increase FUD.

3. Sell products to "fix" FUD issues.

4. Profit!

Subject: No ?????????
Filter error: Your subject looks too much like ascii art.

You saw him repressing me, didn't you?

Re:Missing step ???? (2, Insightful)

LazySlacker (212444) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749745)

I disagree, OSS is an opportunity to Fortify. The implication is that the Tories didn't include ensuring the security of OSS in their plans. What Fortify should want is

Gov use OSS
Gov need security assurance
Gov purchase Fortify s/w.
Gov Fortify against the source code - something they can only do with OSS.
Given that you can't outsource accountability, any org that wants to ensure security of OSS must buy the Fortify product.

Just another way to fight... (5, Insightful)

D-Cypell (446534) | more than 5 years ago | (#26748817)

Politics is about, "We would do things better than you do!", open source software is just an unfortunate, innocent bystander in this process. If Labour were open source advocates, the Tories would be saying exactly what the, presumably Labour funded, security company are saying right now.

Personally, I think the time has come for another interesting political scandal so they will leave the software industry alone.

For those of you not familiar with UK politics, it works a bit like this...

There are 2 main parties, plus a 3rd with a small but meaningful number of seats. Each of the two main parties elect a leader who becomes candidate for PM. Labour are historically the party for the working man, formed out of the unions, however, in recent years they have figured out that the working man is significantly less likely to invite you for a spin on their yacht, so have shifted their position a little.

The current opposition party, the conservatives (or 'Torys'), usually have MPs that come from the rich and privately educated set, such as the hilarious London mayor Boris Johnson (seriously, look this guy up, he is a laugh a minute). They stand for strong family values, but are actually quite likely to be found having a three-way homosexual romp in a public toilet while their wife is at home taking care of the kids.

Neither party gives the slightest toss about open source software (at least, not even close to the level that we do here), but they *do* care about scoring some points. If FOSS is the battlegroud-dujour so be it... tomorrow it will be the colour of the sky!

Incidentally, you have have detected a slight hint of British cynicism in my post, it is pretty common. When Obama got elected I was thinking, "Does this guy have a brother that can come and help us out?", then I found out he has a brother that has recently been charged with drug offenses in Kenya... but to be honest, I am still thinking... 'He'll do!'.

Re:Just another way to fight... (0, Flamebait)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 5 years ago | (#26748949)

Labour are historically the party for the working man, formed out of the unions, however, in recent years they have figured out that the working man is significantly less likely to invite you for a spin on their yacht, so have shifted their position a little.

And this is different from the Democrats how?

[The Torys] stand for strong family values, but are actually quite likely to be found having a three-way homosexual romp in a public toilet while their wife is at home taking care of the kids.

And this is different from the Republican party how?

Re:Just another way to fight... (1)

cowbutt (21077) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749785)

Those would traditionally be the comparisons between UK and US political parties, however, Blair and 9/11 happened, and things have gotten kinda mixed up ever since. Traditionally, Labour had policies more similar to those of a Green or Socialist-and-proud US party. At least whilst out of power, anyway.

Re:Just another way to fight... (1)

Viceroy Potatohead (954845) | more than 5 years ago | (#26748953)

The situation is almost identical in Canada, except rather than:

There are 2 main parties, plus a 3rd with a small but meaningful number of seats.

we've managed to introduce a fourth party which had its origins (ostensibly) in separatism, but is largely a status quo party with regional motivations. Our Tories also stopped being Tories during a phase after Brian Mulroney. We only had Joe Clark to kick around as the official Tory, since the other Tories were busy trying to be popular rather than promoting their traditional ideals.

Further: yachts aren't the thing here, so that's different.

As well, Stephen Leacock referred to Canadians as "a mysterious race of Scottish bankers", and (dutifully) we're unable to generate a proper sex scandal, and instead rely on nepotism and financial impropriety.

And even further: our three-way homosexual romps are done with the wife's consent, and generally given a prime time slot on CBC.

Beyond that, I have nothing to add, except maybe asking the name of Obama's brother's drug dealer. He'd make a great Governor General.

Re:Just another way to fight... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26749129)

Here in Australia we have two main parties with the balance of power currently held by one or two minority groups. The main parties are virtually indistinguishable from each other except to the highly trained eye. In order to get any legislation through, the party in power has to woo the minority with predictable and hilarious results, such as the Great Australian Firewall.

Australian politics is best summed up by the fact that our most famous Prime Minister held the record for downing a pint and our current was caught in a strip club during a trip to the UN. This would have been a massive scandal, but he claimed he was too drunk to do anything or even know where he was, which only increased his popularity.

We're on much more familiar terms with yachts and boats. Members of parliament are likely to be found fishing from them, comparing engines and encouraging people to 'chuck a sickie' when we win the America's Cup.

A three-way homosexual romp would be considered un-Australian, unless you're in Sydney during Mardi-Gras when I believe it's mandatory.

Could we have the name of Obama's brother's drug-dealer's enforcer? He really couldn't do much of a worse job than any of the clowns we've currently got and at worst, could help 'shift' the balance of power.

Re:Just another way to fight... (4, Informative)

williamhb (758070) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749015)

Ok, a slightly less blinded-by-the-cynicism round-up.

Labour used to be dominated by the unions, but then realised this was making them almost unelectable as anybody who isn't in a union really doesn't like other people's unions very much. They've tried to become centrist.

Conservatives used to be very much for "small government", turning everything free market and cutting taxes as far as possible. They've been realising that times have changed since the 80s and a social conscience is generally seen as a good thing. So, both the main parties have been chasing "the middle ground", or at least marketing themselves that way.

The Liberal Democrats formed from an amalgam of a breakaway party from Labour (the SDP) and one of the old British political parties (the Liberals). They tend to have a socially progressive set of policies, often highlighting just one or two policies that sound populist or radical (eg, local income taxes) because they struggle to keep their profile up in the media.

Things are complicated further because while the Lib Dems have far too few seats ever to form a government, they have much more evenly spread support than the two main parties -- so northern seats are often Labour vs Lib Dem battles, while southern seats are often Conservative vs Lib Dem battles, making British politics a very odd fight: it's not a straight fight between Labour and Conservatives, but also a question of which of them can fight the Lib Dems at a local level more convincingly.

Also, although the Conservatives have a lead in the polls, the original headline is wrong to say that the Conservatives are "certainly going to be the next government", because of the way constituency borders are at the moment. The large lead in the vote could very easily turn into a small loss in numbers of seats, or a "hung parliament" (which in practice would probably mean a Labour minority government, as on economic issues the Lib Dems vote with Labour more often than with the Conservatives)

Re:Just another way to fight... (2, Insightful)

Carfiend (1274550) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749083)

I vote Raving Monster Loony since they are the only Party with policies that make any sense.

Re:Just another way to fight... (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749153)

What's with the homophobia, man? Please cease with derogatory comments about homosexuals.

Re:Just another way to fight... (2, Informative)

bloobloo (957543) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749335)

What homophobia? He's claiming the tories are hypocrites - there is no value judgement on homosexuality in the post.

Re:Just another way to fight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26749369)

Homosexuals are gay.

No, not homophobia (3, Informative)

ed (79221) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749413)

Read the guy again

The Conservatives have usually portrayed themselves as the family of family values, Married, 2.4 kids, stable etc

But in real life enough Tory MPs were seen to be living a life other than they preached. One even died during a bout of erotic asphyxiation

So it is Hypocrisy he is against, not same sex relationships

Re:No, not homophobia (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749471)

He's using the term in a derogatory way, to imply that it's something bad. It has nothing to do with the hypocrisy of politicians, which is worldwide and not limited to a select group in the United Kingdom. I suppose as long as it supports the cause, it's acceptable though.

Re:No, not homophobia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26749763)

"They stand for strong family values, but are actually quite likely to be found having a three-way homosexual romp in a public toilet while their wife is at home taking care of the kids."

He is pointing out that while standing for "strong family values" they are often actually away taking part in things that (in their own stated opinions) are the opposite of this. You are confusing the fact that the "family values" line sees homosexuality as something to bad, with the poster claming it is bad.

Re:Just another way to fight... (1)

CowboyBob500 (580695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749421)

When Obama got elected I was thinking, "Does this guy have a brother that can come and help us out?"

Are you sure about that? Remember 1997 when "Things could only get better" and the new saviour of British politics was elected as a PM who would single-handedly remove corruption and nepotism from UK politics, all while being an all round nice guy? See how well that's gone...

Anyone for TenDRA? (4, Insightful)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | more than 5 years ago | (#26748823)

The British Government, or at least, branches of it, used to be very open source friendly. Developing software and publishing it with a very permissive license attached to the source code.

Alas, since the Blair Regime started, that all seemed to come to an end... and the British people had to learn to put up with huge IT spending to private firms, usually affiliated with Fujitsu or Microsoft ... and those public IT projects would famously fall flat on their faces and be quietly shelved.

Just look at the recent hiccups with the UK Biometrics scheme... 'nuff said.

Re:Anyone for TenDRA? (3, Interesting)

williamhb (758070) | more than 5 years ago | (#26748925)

Some branches of the UK Government still do develop software and publish it with very permissive licenses. For example, JISC (the Joint Information Systems Committee) has sponsored a number of projects to produce open source software in higher education. And various other arms of the British Government always have spent huge amounts of money through private firms, often falling flat on their faces. Government projects failing isn't a new invention.

See to believe.... (4, Interesting)

qw0ntum (831414) | more than 5 years ago | (#26748917)

A link to the company's study: http://www.fortify.com/servlet/download/user/OpenSource_Security_WP_V5.pdf [fortify.com]

While they raise a couple interesting points, my first impression is that they broadly generalize from a small sample set. Specifically, they only look at about 10 Java projects (including Tomcat, Hibernate, and JBoss), and proceed to conclude that the open source community is unresponsive to security threats. Conspicuously absent are any Linux distributions (let alone any *BSD... they have obviously never heard of OpenBSD), OpenOffice, or any tools likely to make it into desktop use for the UK government.

Oh, and the solution to all this apparently is to rely on their company's security auditing services to make sure that your company doesn't have "hidden security holes".... Riiiight....

Re:See to believe.... (4, Interesting)

eof (33820) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749079)

Yes. Not only was the study out of context with the conclusions TFA reached (It's a study specific to FOSS Java-based projects and deployments, not FOSS in general), but the study itself isn't clear on what its objectives were. It fails to elaborate on methodologies used to conduct the examinations of projects or process, fails to elaborate on any of the security issues found, and fails to offer any comparative analysis with a successful application of the study to other projects, open source or otherwise. It reeks of FUD.

City of London and the BBC (2, Insightful)

hughbar (579555) | more than 5 years ago | (#26748923)

Actually both the city of London (which would tend to contain Tories, they're often investment bankers) and the BBC (which contains champagne socialists) both use a lot of open source, mainly scripting languages, databases and web servers.

However, in both cases, anybody 'political' wouldn't actually dirty their hands with 'software' AND software engineers wouldn't dirty their hands with 'politics'.

As for the 'report' it's basically self-promotion by the company in order to peddle its wares.

Tories in the BBC (1)

ed (79221) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749441)

Let's see

The current political editor is a former Tory Party Appartatchik

The mail Politics program his hosted by Andrew Neil, former Murdoch editor of the Times in the Thatcher Glory Days (tm) and has Michael Portillo, former Tory Cabinet Minister and the token leftie is someone wwho fell out with the Labour Party a long time ago

THey employ at least two children of former cabinet ministers (Carol Thatcher, though maybe not for much longer, and Maxine Mawhinney)

I'm guessing that the political news in the BBC gets a Tory friendly treatment

" will certainly be the next British government " (4, Insightful)

jools33 (252092) | more than 5 years ago | (#26748943)

In case I missed something there are multiple parties in the UK who will contest the next election - there are no certainties. Whilst the Tories may have a strong lead now in the polls anything could happen between now and the election.

Re:" will certainly be the next British government (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26749231)

Whilst the Tories may have a strong lead now in the polls anything could happen between now and the election.

They barely even have that, it's been down to four points within the last quarter. Extraordinary, given the pig's ear the present lot have made of it, but people still don't trust the Tories.

Fi8st? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26748995)

everydAy...Redefine its rEaders and

Conflict of interest? (4, Interesting)

eof (33820) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749005)

Fortify Software is not exactly a neutral party for conducting studies of the fitness of FOSS for enterprise software use. Half its Board of Directors have ties to enterprise software and service corporations like PeopleSoft, Sybase, Oracle, and Microsoft. I think I might get a second opinion.

Re:Conflict of interest? (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749237)

I don't think you need a big anti-OSS conspiracy for this one. If you asked them "So if we went with closed source, we wouldn't need your products?" you can damn well bet they'd say you need their product to "enhance" your security then as well. It's just another piece of "If you do this, you need us. If you do that, you really need us. And if you do THAT, you REALLY need us." product placement to sell their own products and make a buck. That the board of a software company is full of people from other software companies is hardly surprising.

Re:Conflict of interest? (2, Informative)

eof (33820) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749301)

Oh, I wouldn't go so far to label it a conspiracy, just an obvious conflict of interest.

The fact that they themselves sell software that benefits from the results of a study that they themselves conduct just degenerates the whole thing into the realm of the ludicrous.

Enterprise-level change control (3, Interesting)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749159)

I've yet to be in an enterprise which uses enterprise-level change control.

Working for one of the world's largest commercial companies: Closest thing to "source control" was a rigorous automated backup process across network shares.

Working for a small commercial company which sold commercial data processing tools for some of the world's largest commercial companies, and the U.S. Military, and various parts of the U.S. Government: Closest thing to "source control" was laws requiring our code be held in escrow for every release. We routinely released completely untested versions and claimed that it was a re-build of the same sources. Eventually management was convinced to start using source control after asking if anyone had an old copy of a file lying around and I quickly produced it from my local repository. Just before I left, I brought up the issue of segmentation faults and memory corruption, and was told "we can't avoid signalling if we're given bad inputs".

Working for possibly the largest I.T. Company in the world, processing data for the U.S. Government: One person in charge of source control. No branching allowed. Occasionally heard complaints from the guru that people were overwriting each-other's changes. Never heard the word "security" mentioned at any point. Found out I could get a root shell and modify anyone else's source code by passing bad parameters to the reporting system.

Re:Enterprise-level change control (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749639)

That's true - we can go into a company consulting about configuration management and the most the company knows is often some low level programmer that's downloaded TortoiseCVS and liked it. And these are companies that are interested enough to pay us.

(which is often 'we want to use version control' which is like saying 'teach us to use spanners!' - it then takes a couple of days of training for them to work out what they want to actually *do* with it.).

Re:Enterprise-level change control (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749801)

only a couple of days? I've been versioning various things for years and /still/ don't know what I actually want to do with it :)

Open source bad? (5, Funny)

buggy_throwback (259436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749213)

Then why use it for your website? http://toolbar.netcraft.com/site_report?url=http://www.fortify.com [netcraft.com]

Re:Open source bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26749783)

They're also using FindBugs as part of their code scanning....
https://opensource.fortify.com/teamserver/whatwefind.fhtml

Re:Unrelated statistics (0, Flamebait)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749825)

Because they, like every other sane person, does not directly manage their web server, or likely even directly manage their web site.

The "if you don't like open source, why is the thing your opinions are posted on using open source!" argument is dead, because it is so stupid.

My tax money... (1)

WoollyMittens (1065278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749217)

I don't want my tax-money to be used to fatten the coffers of corporate giants. They'll use the money to lobby against my fair use rights.

It'll be bribery, plain and simple (1)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749235)

From FTA:

US outfit Fortify Software has come up with research to prove it.

I'm willing to bed that the company in question has promised a large political donation, and this article has been seeded to make sure it all looks like a rational decision when the Torys wangle them a huge IT contract in return.

Every SINGLE friggn' political issue I ever get involved with, before long I realise: it's big business throwing money at corrupt politicians - and the politicians gladly take it. That IS politics now - the giving and taking of money and the protection of the interests of big businesses.

Re:It'll be bribery, plain and simple (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749411)

Well, as long as the sheep keep getting fed the same entertainment about how New Labour's Gordon Brown "takes responsibility" and has to "rescue the world" from basically the mess the party has helped creating (the bit that curiously never makes it into the press) and then go to vote with glazed over eyes I don't think much will change.

I'm perpetually bemused by a country that once produced astonishingly clever engineering and was at the forefront of the industrial revolution and that seems now more or less have lost the will to bloody live.

Moaning will NOT fix the problems. Calling people to account, getting to the streets and asking the hard questions that are being dodged, asking why a report can state that speed cameras save lives at a huge while the hard evidence is against it (I know why, but it's off topic), demanding that CCTV operators are observed themselves, blocking government people from taking up job offers in the companies they regulate or control (Tony Blair at Morgan Stanley - who is buying up companies at the cheap after destroying the global economy with his mate Bush), and FORCING TRANSPARANCY into government - that is what's needed to fix the mess. And sack the idiots currently running the country. If I hear stuff like "a good day to bury bad news" and "we lead" and see that the facts are 180 degree different I know I'm dealing with a Grade A BS-er who cannot be trusted to tie their shoelaces without asking for advice.

People have a right to privacy, and the politician's private life is to some extend off limits too. But there is ZERO argument for the working of Government to be as opaque as they are in the UK. Regardless of which lid you lift, at present it always seems to cover a stinking mess of abuse, corruption, jobs-for-the-boys (and their friends) and plain embezzlement.

If I have an IT company or a consultancy or whatever entity that alleges to supply services to the government I should have a right to know what they do. The whole "commercial secret" is a farce anyway because government accounting is supposed to be open anyway so the numbers are there. Just a basic value-for-money review will identify quite a bit.

OK, rant over. Short summary: Guy Fawkes was right..

minus 1, Tro7l) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26749325)

ne7er heeded to look into

F/OSS or Proprietry it makes no difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26749333)

Seriously it doesn't. If you are buying on the scale that governments do you can get any company selling propriety software to share source with you under NDA as part of the contract. No company is going to turn down a government contract in the hundreds of millions (perhaps even billions) to keep their source code safe and if they are stupid enough to do so then you don't want to deal with that company anyway.

The problem isn't access to the code or being able to modify it.

The problem is a solid, secure implementation. This is where the UK government are incompetent. They couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery let alone setup a secure computer system. I don't care what product MY money buys (after all it is MY money buying it) I just want it to be secure and well implemented. I love F/OSS but i'm not going to say we should us something just because it is F/OSS over "better" proprietary software.

They are not looking at the REAL problem.

Fortify cited there own research (2, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749337)

Showing that a statistically insignificant number of Java applications failed a test by a proprietary system which nobody is allowed to decompile so they can reproduce the results.

Hmm. Perhaps I am being a crotchety old science traditionalist, but the definition of the word 'research' seems to have changed of late.

oh no (0, Troll)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749485)

oh no, not again. David Cameron has picked up on another techy buzzword and is hoping to slam Labor into the ground with it. This isn't about FOSS at all, it's about the political machinations of a desperate man and a desperate party, futily attempting to win favour with the masses.
I'm sorry David, but we will never forget Maggie Maggie Milk Snatcher, nor will we forget your morning 'green friendly' cycle to work while your briefcase goes by car

What? (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749519)

"What makes this criticism interesting is that this is an attack on the policies of what will certainly be the next British government â" it's unusual for a party to be criticised like this before it comes to office."

No it isn't. In fact it's incredibly common. They do it face to face every week with Prime Ministers Questions. These debates get incredibly heated and they're constantly slagging off each others' policies. Outside of parliament the papers continue attacks on policy, as do the talking heads on various news channels. Heck the Tories are still getting flak for Thatcher.

The summary is making far too big of a deal out of this. IT in itself won't be a battleground, in fact I doubt it'll make open debate outside of dedicated sessions on the subject that are attended by a dozen or so MPs and only gets aired on BBC parliament.

What will be the big issues in an election when it's called with be the following (possibly in this order); economy > crime > security (and privacy) > Green policies > education . The Tory party are not going to win any seats by spending time talking about open source.

Re:What? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749675)

I reckon the order will be economy, crime, immigration*, education with the rest just thrown out there at random.

Depending on which statistics look most favourable (or can be twisted) the order will change.

Whether the tories can finally outlive the thatcher legacy remains to be seen.

* Got to keep the Daily Mail readers on-side, after all they're a huge chunk of the voters. Of course saying unpleasant things about foreigners then loses them a huge chunk of other votes.. so they may not make it so high priority this time.

25 Million != 7 million (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26749525)

How did 25 MILLION people's records get recounted as 7 million families? Hell, why not get the number even smaller, it was only one country's worth.

Where is this bias coming from? It's in quotes but doesn't appear on either of the linked pages.

Umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26749555)

what will certainly be the next British government

There's nothing certain about that at all.

Wait...wait........wait! (1)

LunarEffect (1309467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749705)

Security problems?! I'd...think switching from...uh...for example...windows to linux is more of a security update. Also, bugs and security holes in oss are found faster and are easier to repair than with their closed source counterparts.

As a UK voter (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749743)

I've just sent an email to the Conservative Party (via their website) telling them that they are right, stick to their guns. I've told them we are a small UK developer who rely on OSS from major vendors to deliver a cost effective product, and that they should repond to criticism from people who simply stand to lose business by pointing out their lack of independence. I encourage others to do the same. I'm not a Conservative, I'm a long haired pinko (all right, on the right wing of the Lib Dems actually) but I think that any political party that comes up with sensible ideas should be given encouragement. Our MP used to say that he regarded every letter that wasn't boilerplate from a lobbist as representing the views of at least 500 people, so if he got 100 letters and emails on a subject saying the same thing, he took that as representative of the constituency as a whole. They DO pay attention.

Someone with his finger on the public pulse (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26749903)

It's an indication of how IT is going to be a battleground in the future general election.

No it isn't. You may be interested in FOSS. I am, a bit. But 99.99% of the public counld't spell FOSS, let alone know what it is.

If the proles are interested in anything beyond football, crappy reality shows and getting drunk, their main politiocal concerns are the job and housing markets, and maybe food prices & immigration.

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