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Is Off-Shoring a National Security Threat?

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the never-buy-outside-your-zip-code dept.

Security 319

An anonymous reader writes "Should the U.S. government hold developers more responsible for the quality of their code? One top cyber security analyst says more regulations would be a mistake. 'Any attempt to regulate software quality and security simply drives the software industry off-shore for good,' he says. 'Similarly, requiring trusted on-shore production ensures two things: (1) falling behind world progress as we aren't the only smart people and we are a minority, and (2) costs rise in a way that makes on-shore-mandated software cost-uncompetitive on the world market.'"

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Nah (0)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 3 years ago | (#37599318)

It's fine. As long as there are enough smart people here we can deal with it. If we can get foreigners to do our dirty work for us, then we can focus on the important stuff. We don't need the monopoly on smart people, just enough to keep up.

Re:Nah (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | about 3 years ago | (#37599520)

Like playing WoW and posting on Slashdot. Oh no, the foreigners play WoW too, and post on Slashdot as well! They're taking our jerbs!

Regs for federal jobs...but not private sector. (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 3 years ago | (#37600048)

Well, I'd say the answer is "it depends".

No, there shouldn't be any requirements for private businesses....let them do as best as they can in the market.

To encourage jobs IN the US, however, I'd say the Feds could lower taxes to corporations, for every documented US citizen they hire to give incentive and make it easier to hire US citizens.

However, for Federal contracts, ESPECIALLY those coding for DoD, NASA, etc...they should be mandated to use ONLY US citizens...which they generally do anyway since most of those jobs require some level of security clearance, and you pretty much gotta be a US citizen to get one.

I don't see any problem at all, with jobs like this that are funded with US taxpayer money, to be mandated to go ONLY to US citizens. Both for fiscal reasons, as well as for security ones.

But for the private sectore...no, don't legislate or regulate it for US jobs...but give highly fiscal incentive to do it, through tax cuts, etc.

All private industry cares about is cost/profit, so make it easy to do business here in the US through less regulations/red tape, and less tax for hiring US.

IS A WORKING LABOUR FORCE (0)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 3 years ago | (#37600184)

National security?

What do you need to secure? What is the threat?

"Were safe! No food, no jobs, no shelter, but we CANNOT be attacked!"

Paying our enemies (3, Interesting)

Aqualung812 (959532) | about 3 years ago | (#37599610)

-Note, I live in the USA, I get that you might not. Ignore the "we" in those cases.

Off-shoring becomes a bit of a problem if you decide you want to fight a war with one of the countries you offshore to.

For example, if we would start a war with India, one of the first things that would happen is the loss of all communication with that country. How many businesses would fail since they wouldn't be able to replace that infrastructure quickly.

How about if we go to war with China? Can we produce all of the parts we currently use in our weapons systems here, quickly?

Yes, in both examples, the USA would be able to eventually produce everything it might need, but it would take years to regain the infrastructure that currently isn't located here.

Where things get really complex is when you consider the off-shoring of natural resources, such are rare metals or oil. If the USA pissed everyone off, it wouldn't have enough resources to maintain current standards of living & fight a war, even with all of the imaginary money it can print.

All of the above could be seen as a positive, though. Maybe if the idea of killing others isn't enough to stop war, the cold facts of logistical interdependence might.

Re:Paying our enemies (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37599662)

Don't you think that the more we intertwine our economies, the less likely a war becomes? We go to war with China, both our and China's economies are fucked. Same goes for India. Thus, war won't happen

Re:Paying our enemies (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 3 years ago | (#37599858)

Killing might not happen but war will never end. It will be a trade war or a technology war or power struggle. Man has a biologically induced need to compete. Sports are an outlet to keep us from killing each other. During prohibition moonshiners who got bored ended up racing their cars and now we have NASCAR. On Wall Street everybody is always looking to "win" by spotting a trend before everybody else.

Re:Paying our enemies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37600138)

During prohibition moonshiners who got bored ended up racing their cars and now we have NASCAR.

Close but incorrect. Moonshiners hopped up their cars to escape law enforcement, not out of boredom. You are correct in that moonshiners became race car drivers - NASCAR being the end result.

Re:Paying our enemies (1)

mikael (484) | about 3 years ago | (#37599946)

That's why international investors wanted open borders and the elimination of trade barriers - it's well known that countries with strong trade links are far less likely to go to war with each other over resources. California hasn't gone to war with New York or Texas, and UK hasn't gone to war with Germany for over 65 years now.

Now when some countries start putting restrictions on the export of rare metals used for dual-purpose technology, then you have to wonder...

Re:Paying our enemies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37599948)

China's leadership has shown they're not interested in "intertwined economies"; it's
a means to their end but they have not been forth coming about their real intentions...

Re:Paying our enemies (1)

1s44c (552956) | about 3 years ago | (#37599774)

So your argument is that given enough time you are going to start a war with every other country. Not just have a war but start a war with every single other country.

You have bigger problems than offshoring.

Re:Paying our enemies (1)

fnj (64210) | about 3 years ago | (#37599886)

Don't be any stupider than you have to be. Wars happen. You don't have to start a war to be in one.

Wars may become less likely because economies become interdependent. But they may not. If someone decides they can get even more favorable situations by defeating their rivals and wringing concessions out of them, that someone may still start a war.

Re:Paying our enemies (2)

Man Eating Duck (534479) | about 3 years ago | (#37600390)

Don't be any stupider than you have to be. Wars happen. You don't have to start a war to be in one.

Wars may become less likely because economies become interdependent. But they may not. If someone decides they can get even more favorable situations by defeating their rivals and wringing concessions out of them, that someone may still start a war.

In civilised parts of the world that is generally not true. Instead of going in with guns blazing we negotiate and trade.

Re:Paying our enemies (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37599910)

So your argument is that given enough time you are going to start a war with every other country.

Looking at recent history, the answer would appear to be a solid 'yes'.

Re:Paying our enemies (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 years ago | (#37599788)

Isn't that why GM was bailed out, to keep the industrial capacity in the US?

Re:Paying our enemies (1, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37599898)

Isn't that why GM was bailed out, to keep the industrial capacity in the US?

You think that if GM had been broken up the Chinese would have packed up the factories and shipped them to China?

GM was bailed out because Obama needs those union votes.

Re:Paying our enemies (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 years ago | (#37600028)

I wasn't talking about the last time specifically, I meant in general, why GM gets bailed out when they're building a labor-intensive product in the country with the most expensive labor.

Re:Paying our enemies (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | about 3 years ago | (#37599914)

Or to keep UAW basically in charge. 99% of their campaign contributions go to democrats. Pretty good return on their investment.

Re:Paying our enemies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37599932)

That's probably one of the best reasons for outsourcing. It is also the main rationale behind the EU.

Re:Paying our enemies (1)

SlippyToad (240532) | about 3 years ago | (#37600204)

For example, if we would start a war with India, one of the first things that would happen is the loss of all communication with that country. How many businesses would fail since they wouldn't be able to replace that infrastructure quickly.

War is basically a dressed-up excuse for one nation to steal wholesale from another anyway. I can't see the downside.

But what I can see a downside to is the hollowing-out of economies based on wage disparity. That will even out eventually. After that, offshoring will probably decline as employers find new and more creative ways to steal their employees' wages.

Re:Paying our enemies (1)

cobrausn (1915176) | about 3 years ago | (#37600388)

So, taken in that light, is it a good idea because it reduces our inclination to wage war with our international market partners? Outsource for peace?

Re:Nah (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37599650)

so you wouldn't mind outsourcing your girlfriend to me for a warmup, as long as you get her back wet and ready for you to focus on important stuff?

Re:Nah (5, Funny)

tech4 (2467692) | about 3 years ago | (#37599752)

so you wouldn't mind outsourcing your girlfriend to me for a warmup, as long as you get her back wet and ready for you to focus on important stuff?

Sure, you can take her shopping.

Re:Nah (2)

1s44c (552956) | about 3 years ago | (#37599728)

The dirty work IS the important stuff.

Yes, but not the U.S. produced code (4, Insightful)

MrSavage (2127458) | about 3 years ago | (#37599328)

We should regulate off-shore produced code and push jobs back to the U.S. the same way we should apply tariffs to products made in China.

Re:Yes, but not the U.S. produced code (0)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | about 3 years ago | (#37599568)

Making everyone pay more for everything doesn't seem like the greatest recessionary policy.

Re:Yes, but not the U.S. produced code (2, Interesting)

Duhavid (677874) | about 3 years ago | (#37600026)

If people have jobs and can afford to buy things, then maybe it is.
If everything costs twice as much, but you make twice as much, it is level.
And really, have prices fallen that much with outsourcing? Not for the items that are essential.

The problem we have right now is that not enough people have jobs here in the US paying enough to afford the amounts required to live here.

Re:Yes, but not the U.S. produced code (0)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | about 3 years ago | (#37600112)

If I pay twice as much for something, and the additional half is going to the government, how am I going to "make twice as much"?

The government has spent zillions to create 0 jobs. That money isn't going to help me. It's going to guarantee loans for politically connected companies, it might bail out politically connected banks, it may be spent on some war we don't even have the guts to finish, but it isn't going to help me.

Re:Yes, but not the U.S. produced code (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about 3 years ago | (#37600400)

Actually it is exactly that.

Re:Yes, but not the U.S. produced code (0)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 3 years ago | (#37599690)

Tariffs are bad mojo. Trade restrictions make it harder for us to compete in the global economy.

Suppose for example that we raise tariffs on steel to keep a steel mill in PA from going under. Now everybody in the US pays more for steel, and any goods that use steel cost more. Cars use steel. Now that our cars are more expensive, other countries won't import them because they can get cheaper cars elsewhere.

So, you see, now not only does the rest of the world not want our steel because it's too expensive, but they also don't want any products we produce that are made with steel because now they are too expensive.

Sure that tariff might save a thousand steel mill jobs, but it's going to cost many times that number of jobs in other areas of the economy.

Tariffs are only pushed for two reasons:

1) People have a very simplistic view of the economy and don't understand that domestic production and imports rise and fall with one another, and so wrongly believe that tariffs will reduce our net imports as a percentage of GDP. Tariffs never have this effect.

2) Corporations and labor unions who don't want to compete with the foreign market, so they lobby the government to labor trade in their favor, all at the expense of everybody else.

Tariffs are knee jerk reactions that ultimately have negative effects on the economy. In fact, if it weren't for tariffs, there wouldn't have been a great depression:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQQon4tjlSA [youtube.com]

Re:Yes, but not the U.S. produced code (1)

korean.ian (1264578) | about 3 years ago | (#37599936)

Subsidize the steel industry!
Oh wait, that already happens [cato.org]

I know your point wasn't to focus on the steel industry and rather the ill-effects of tariffs on trade. The wonders of history [nytimes.com] . It's just ridiculous to me that free-market advocates quote the period pre-WW1 as some golden era of free-trade. Also, isolating Smoot-Hawley as the cause of the Great Depression is an exercise in futility. There were many factors involved in that spectacular mess.

Re:Yes, but not the U.S. produced code (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | about 3 years ago | (#37600424)

Tariffs are bad mojo. Trade restrictions make it harder for us to compete in the global economy.

Suppose for example that we raise tariffs on steel to keep a steel mill in PA from going under. Now everybody in the US pays more for steel, and any goods that use steel cost more. Cars use steel. Now that our cars are more expensive, other countries won't import them because they can get cheaper cars elsewhere.

So, you see, now not only does the rest of the world not want our steel because it's too expensive, but they also don't want any products we produce that are made with steel because now they are too expensive.

Sure that tariff might save a thousand steel mill jobs, but it's going to cost many times that number of jobs in other areas of the economy.

Tariffs are only pushed for two reasons:

1) People have a very simplistic view of the economy and don't understand that domestic production and imports rise and fall with one another, and so wrongly believe that tariffs will reduce our net imports as a percentage of GDP. Tariffs never have this effect.

2) Corporations and labor unions who don't want to compete with the foreign market, so they lobby the government to labor trade in their favor, all at the expense of everybody else.

That's not exactly true. If we add a tariff to steel, it only affects steel we buy from other countrires. It doesn't make our cars more expensive. You're actually discussing a "trade war". We raise tariffs, piss off the Chinese and they raise tariffs on our steal. So the Chinese don't buy as much US steel.

You are essentially correct in your thinking, but you oversimplified it too much.

I guess this means (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about 3 years ago | (#37599348)

Outsourcing the CIA to China isn't a go?

Re:I guess this means (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37599486)

We already outsourced the Presidency, and that seems to be working well.

Re:I guess this means (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 3 years ago | (#37599746)

We already outsourced the Presidency, and that seems to be working well.

As well as the economy. China defends it with far more energy than either side of the aisle in Washington DC

definitely (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 3 years ago | (#37599352)

Of-course it is.

--

Of-course there is nothing positive that government can do to fix it by any more regulations, laws or government spending and offices. What it can do is what it should do and what it won't do, because the last time it did something like that was 1921, and cutting 70% of itself is sort of like committing harakiri and admitting that gov't has only one role in economy - which is destruction. They won't fire themselves..... all those protests at Wall Street, they should really try and figure out what the real problem is and go protest at their closest Federal reserve banks.

Re:definitely (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37599484)

The real problem is greed. Get rid of a company's responsibility to shareholders, make them responsible to their customers and employees, and the shareholders will be rewarded. Current system of short haul profiteering is killing the economy plain and simple.

Also, with regards to buying and selling of commodities. Turn it into real purchases only - no speculation, no futures, you buy it, you take ownership of it, pay transportation costs, storage costs, resell costs.

Do away with speculation altogether and our economy would skyrocket.

Re:definitely (2)

roman_mir (125474) | about 3 years ago | (#37599606)

Nope. The problem is described in my journal, it's simple, it's gov't destroying productivity of Americans by destroying the capital savings, which is also the reason that the market now is a casino with people not investing but gambling [slashdot.org] .

Greed is the only incentive that is real that moves progress forward. The real problem is greed in government, which grows government at the expense of the real economy.

Re:definitely (2)

Fallingcow (213461) | about 3 years ago | (#37599586)

gov't has only one role in economy - which is destruction

Looks like someone hasn't read up on the economic history of post-war Japan.

Or, say, Norway.

Or Germany.

Or... etc. etc.

It's easy to say government is never the answer--simple, clean, fits on a bumper sticker. It's also wrong.

Re:definitely (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 3 years ago | (#37599640)

Norway? The economy that is slowly moving away from being government mandated and towards capitalism? Economy that is based on energy export?

Japan and Germany? Economies that could be doing so much BETTER if it was NOT for their stupid, worthless governments? Economies that are destroyed by governments on every day basis?

Yeah, somebody does need to learn something about history.

Re:definitely (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 3 years ago | (#37599808)

Japan and Germany? Economies that could be doing so much BETTER if it was NOT for their stupid, worthless governments?

I guess Germans and Japanese really are a master races then, doing better than Americans even with more government. Because, after all, you asserting that they would do even better with less government is all that's needed prove it.

Economies that are destroyed by governments on every day basis?

Yes, but you see, that's the genius of strong government: government is worse than private industry at everything, so it logically follows that it's worse than Wall Street at destroying economy too.

Re:definitely (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 3 years ago | (#37599868)

I guess Germans and Japanese really are a master races then, doing better than Americans even with more government. Because, after all, you asserting that they would do even better with less government is all that's needed prove it.

- I am going to abstain from 'master-race' comments.

Yes, but you see, that's the genius of strong government: government is worse than private industry at everything, so it logically follows that it's worse than Wall Street at destroying economy too.

- USA has the strongest government regulations and highest taxes of them all. USA's only export is fiat currency, which is why it is in the predicament that it is at this point (well, some weapons, some entertainment and certain food products, but mostly USD and debt.)

USA is not 'suffering' from from too much private business, it has very little productive business left that is private, it's easy to see with the 53Billion USD/month trade deficit.

The outsourcing is a good thing in this case, it saves the ability of certain businesses to produce without paying the artificially high costs imposed by US gov't regulations and taxation and subsidies to monopolies. It's good that they can run away from that failing system, some of their products are going to be used across the world, regardless of US failing economy.

I am discouraged by your thoughtless comments.

Re:definitely (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37599964)

I guess Germans and Japanese really are a master races then, doing better than Americans even with more government.

You are aware that:

1. Japan is in the middle of a demographic decline and few Americans would want to live the way the average Japanese citizen does? That's not even taking into account the high level of homelessness last time I was there.
2. The Germans, thanks to their wonderful big government, are facing a choice between massively increasing taxes to bail out the rest of the Euro zone or seeing the Euro and probably the EU collapse around them?

The current crisis was caused by big government and looks increasingly likely to take down big government throughout the West. Yet the solution is apparently more and bigger government?

Re:definitely (2)

Fallingcow (213461) | about 3 years ago | (#37599856)

Is sometimes better than the alternatives does not mean is always the greatest thing ever and is always perfect.

Also, protip: history is more than the last 10-20 years.

Re:definitely (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 3 years ago | (#37599994)

I agree. History is much more than last 10-20 years. So for example when people compare US of today to US of the past in terms of economics, they like to look at the time, that was unusual in terms of the global conditions (like post war times, when other productive nations were destroyed).

A much better time to compare to is time when USA had real growth in economy past the Civil war and before destruction of free market (1913 - Federal reserve and income taxes, which became the instrument of government growth and destruction). 0% income taxes. Prices going down. Real innovation, inventions, real growth of economic wealth due to real growth of production, shift from being a debtor to being largest creditor nation, producer of cheap, high quality consumer goods.

Re:definitely (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | about 3 years ago | (#37600120)

The late 19th century as America's golden age, even in a strictly economic sense? Well, at least now I know you're trolling. Have fun with the rest of the fish.

Re:definitely (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 3 years ago | (#37600252)

The 19th century. The time they invented the sewing machine, made a useful steam engine, refrigeration and using large refrigerators to move food around in train cars, the rail road was used everywhere (which was destroyed by public road projects, prolonging the depression). The car, the airplane, the electrical light bulb, the phonograph, the telegraph, the telephone, the bicycle, the radio, metal ships, indoor plumbing, electrical motors, food, which became safe due to improved efficiencies of the market, having people work for limited days in a week and hours in a day (see Henry Ford), while getting paid enough for a man to support a family, with a stay at home wife, some kids, all private health care and insurance and education. The cheap clothing, cheap food, cheap energy. Yes, it must have been awful, the transition from agricultural economy to industrial, even with all the faults, but increase of the efficiencies due to capital, which paid for the tools.

The time that made it possible for children to stay home, not due to any regulations, but because one man became efficient enough (due to all of the capital), to provide for a family with a bunch of kids. Yes, there were problems, obviously many problems. No, you can't have a transition without many problems. Yes, it was a much more important time in history in terms of wealth creation than anything past it so far.

Re:definitely (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37599916)

Oh yeah, Lord of the Flies had it all figured out. No government worked out really well on that island didn't it you little Piggy.

Not sustainable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37599374)

So we should keep building core code on the backs of under payed over worked Indians who don't give a shit if there code is secure.

There is a critical outsourcing limit that we keep hitting where the actual people doing the work just don't care.

Re:Not sustainable (2)

Jaysyn (203771) | about 3 years ago | (#37599478)

This.

One of the largest cable companies in the US used to offshore their network design. They ended up paying "us" (as in my employer & other companies that work in the same field) to redo all of it & they no longer outsource design.

Re:Not sustainable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37599618)

I do not think the problem is if the indian people do or not give a shit about secure coding, the problem is that most of the time the people that contracts them (or us in the other side of the world) do not care or know enough of security as to impose that into their products.

Secrecy is not safety (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 3 years ago | (#37599402)

Why would off-shoring increase the risk? It would perhaps be of importance if the risk is related to the secrecy around the development. But if you make your code safe by secrecy, then it is not safe anyway, whether you develop it on-shope or anywhere else in the world. You should always assume that secrets are leaked... Always.

Re:Secrecy is not safety (1)

Arlet (29997) | about 3 years ago | (#37599492)

You should always assume that secrets are leaked... Always.

No, you should always factor in the risk that secrets are leaked. It would be silly to assume that risk is 100%, because it isn't. Many successful closed-source projects prove that.

Re:Secrecy is not safety - your not even on topic (4, Informative)

haus (129916) | about 3 years ago | (#37599546)

It is not about secrecy it is about quality.

The VP at SAIC is saying that if the government demands that the software they purchase actually meets some minimum standard of quality then everyone will throw up their hands and quit. Which he feels will cause more software to be handed off to overseas developers who will do even a worse job than has already been done.

This smells very much like GM & Ford complaining that new fuel standards will be a technical impossibility to reach just moments before one of their competitors roll out models to the showroom floor that make the grade.

Re:Secrecy is not safety (2)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 3 years ago | (#37599552)

Iran "offshored" the control software of the centrifuges on their uranium enrichment program (i.e. bought it in). Google for what happened next.

Re:Secrecy is not safety (5, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | about 3 years ago | (#37599578)

It isn't just secrecy. It is quality. In india, being a good programmer means getting promoted to management immediately. The only people left to code are those who are failures or newbies. As a result, the quality of code coming from overseas is crap and often broken. They often deliver completely broken code, or code that only works for a small subset of valid inputs, or that has terrible maintainability and performance. Every bit of that code you get back has to be thoroughly vetted and usually scrapped and rewritten from the ground up.

So yes, it definitely increases risk.

Re:Secrecy is not safety (1)

NevarMore (248971) | about 3 years ago | (#37600034)

So how is it the "good" programmers in management don't review and stop this broken code?

Re:Secrecy is not safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37600230)

So how is it the "good" programmers in management don't review and stop this broken code?

I don't know, but my anecdotal evidence (experience) concurs with Nadaka's statement.

Re:Secrecy is not safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37600272)

So how is it the "good" programmers in management don't review and stop this broken code?

Because they are managers now and managers don't mess with code. Geeze!

Re:Secrecy is not safety (2)

darronb (217897) | about 3 years ago | (#37600382)

There's too much of it. They can't do all the work, and they have to let the crappy programmers learn. Trial by fire.

I know a really excellent Indian programmer that's a project coordinator now over several projects. He works like a madman trying to correct and teach people, but the results are still pretty crappy because he's just one guy. Eventually, he'll burn out.

I'd hire that single guy in a heartbeat. There might also be another one in the dozen or so on the project that doesn't do more harm than good.

However, they produce so many document artifacts it looks much more professional to management. Even if some of the documents are verging on criminal negligence. Who in the world thinks a flow chart built by omitting structural constructs (like all the conditional statements, say) makes valid documentation? Someone who thinks nobody will check it, that's who. The docs look awesome, but everyone's worse off having them.

Management review code? (2)

msobkow (48369) | about 3 years ago | (#37600420)

You're kidding, right? Management review code?

Even if the manager is technically astute, their job is the manage, not review code. There should be senior developers doing the reviews, but they're too busy writing code. So the sloppy mess produced by the juniors never gets reviewed.

But even without reviews, testing should be revealing the problems caused by that sloppiness. Unfortunately, I've never heard of an offshore coding company that actually does the testing -- that's usually done in-house by the company who hired them. Which only makes sense -- it's the last line of defense against the code that's coming in.

What really doesn't make sense is that these offshore companies keep getting more business even after they develop a reputation for producing shit code, because they're "cheap."

Funny thing is, although the offshore coders get paid dirt wages, the fees charged by their companies aren't usually that much of a discount compared to on-shore or near-shore coding. It completely baffles me the North American businesses still haven't realized that.

Bottom line: You get what you pay for. If you want quality, it's gonna cost you. Shop for the lowest bidder, and you're going to get the lowest quality, too.

But it doesn't matter. Tools like mine will soon make the junior programmer the does nothing but copy-paste-edit code obsolete anyhow.

off-shore code is not that good as it is any ways (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 years ago | (#37599452)

and some times it ends up costing more due to delays, poor code, coding to spec only and so on.

also with outsourcing they just get the job done and move on makeing you find some one to fix the code.

Regulate how, morons .... (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 3 years ago | (#37599466)

There are software patents in us of a. Inevitably any regulation you put forth for ensuring quality of code in software will be hampered by privately owned patents taken related to whatever practice/format you were requiring. You cant talk about any kind of regulation for quality of anything or good practices in such an environment.

Re:Regulate how, morons .... (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | about 3 years ago | (#37599762)

They can conceivably regulate in manners that force industries to pay off these ridiculous patent holders. However, more often, government software regulations force developers to pay off entities that evaluate your code and verify it conforms to published standards. If government wants to do this for code it commissions/uses, that's fine, but enforcing this for private sector code is just silly.

yes (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 3 years ago | (#37600174)

, government software regulations force developers to pay off entities that evaluate your code and verify it conforms to published standards

that worked very well with the rating agencies in finance ....

Quite right. And the corollary applies (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 3 years ago | (#37599498)

Outsource the armed forces (worked for the Romans - for a while.) And stop requiring the use of licensed and regulated doctors, civil engineers, aircraft designers and the like. Because those professions started off unregulated.

On the other hand, serious attention to regulating software design and deployment might eventually reduce the need for security analysts...

Re:Quite right. And the corollary applies (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | about 3 years ago | (#37600128)

Actually outsourcing their own forces brought the romans to their downfall both the western and eastern empire.

The Real Question (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37599504)

The real question is: do the mega corporations care?

Translation (1)

anyGould (1295481) | about 3 years ago | (#37599508)

People aren't willing to pay extra for code that's actually secure so we can't pass along our costs, and you can kiss our ass if you think we're taking a pay cut just because our software killed a few hundred people.

The argument is stupid ... (2)

tomhudson (43916) | about 3 years ago | (#37599516)

First, we already have a market framework that works - people don't buy or use the crappiest code when given a choice.

Second, you know that "disclaim all warranties" bit? If you paid for the product, the vendor cannot disclaim warranties - so you have more incentive to deal with someone local so you can sue their *** off a lot easier. Given enough lawsuits, all bugs are shallow.

Third - the government is unable to ensure the quality of the code it already buys - how is it going to do that for everyone?

The whole concept is dumb, the article is just troll bait - which explains why it was posted on Troll Tuesday [tt]

Re:The argument is stupid ... (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | about 3 years ago | (#37599680)

First, we already have a market framework that works - people don't buy or use the crappiest code when given a choice.

<div class="sarcasm">Well, that explains Windows' success in the presence of alternatives perfectly.</div>

Re:The argument is stupid ... (1)

Spiflicator (64611) | about 3 years ago | (#37599790)

people don't buy or use the crappiest code when given a choice.

People won't sign up to knowingly buy the crappiest code, but unless they are capable of measuring the quality of code, they will hire the cheapest developers, and be blissfully(?) ignorant. ( I assume most management is blissfully ignorant ) It seems to me that most companies think developers are interchangeable and of equivalent quality and capability. With that mindset, why wouldn't you simply hire the cheapest option.

Re:The argument is stupid ... (2)

scamper_22 (1073470) | about 3 years ago | (#37599798)

I'm sometimes amused.

We'll probably see a lot of this kind of proposal. Ultimately, it has to do with jobs. Why not bypass all the bullshit and just admit we're not willing to deal with globalization?

Say what you want about the 'market', most of the economy is government run today... either directly or heavily regulated to the point of being government run. healthcare, education, military, law, financial...

So why do people like yourself sit there pretending like we have a free market and ultimately hurting yourself as an engineer/computer scientists (yes I am assuming you work in the field).

Don't be a martyr for efficiency. Me, I'll gladly take regulation in software so you need the credentials and residency experience of a lawyer/doctor to write software, especially mission critical or networking software. That's just how the world is right now.

When we live in a libertarian paradise, I'll gladly compete with anyone. Until that time, don't be a martyr. Fight for your industry and protection.

Well... (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 3 years ago | (#37600000)

One of my kids is a lawyer specialising in IT cases, so this is cutting off nose to spite face time...but you cannot sue people for doing bad work without an agreed concept of what constitutes good work. Some very successful parts of the world (Switzerland, Germany, Northern Italy) have traditionally relied on the concept of overseeing work by properly educated, trained and qualified people. I personally think it is better to pay them than to rely on paying lawyers.

Yes. (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 3 years ago | (#37599550)

Enforcing high quality secure software written in the U.S. would be bad for the U.S. Quality and security have always been bad for a company. eg. DEC and SUN It stands to reason it would be bad for the U.S.

Priorities please? (1)

netwarerip (2221204) | about 3 years ago | (#37599558)

"...costs rise in a way that makes on-shore-mandated software cost-uncompetitive on the world market.'" Is it just me, or does that not really matter when talking about code created for the gov't, especially code that has a significant security impact? There are tons of places less important than this where the budget can be cut. As far as the US developers falling behind world progress, we can do what Robin Williams has always done and steal the good stuff.

ITAR (2)

PPH (736903) | about 3 years ago | (#37599654)

ITAR [wikipedia.org] is perhaps one of the biggest hidden costs in domestic software development. Investments in s/w products that cannot realize the maximum ROI due to market restrictions force quite a bit of development overseas. If my subsidiary in India can sell my app or service anywhere in the world, but I can't do so with a domestic version, guess where I'll send the work?

Its like when Obama was elected and all the gun nuts got paranoid about possible forthcoming regulations. Everyone ran out and stocked up on guns and ammo. Mention national security and software in the same article and more development work will get pushed overseas in a panic.

Offshoring IS a threat (4, Insightful)

WCMI92 (592436) | about 3 years ago | (#37599664)

It's a threat that will eventually bring down every company that does it. It is a cheat, a dodge used to avoid paying market rate for wages while still depending on the market you are taking the jobs away from to remain strong enough to buy your product (which is likely too expensive to sell in the off shore market where you are underpaying for labor).

Ergo: Every company that uses offshoring depends on EVERYONE ELSE to not do the same so that there is still a market for their product. Eventually everyone will offshore in order to not get undercut in price, to the point where Americans no longer make a wage sufficient to keep the economy afloat so that there is sufficient money in the economy to allow the purchase of the offshored product.

In other words, it's ultimately a self-destructive strategy that will end in dragging down first world markets to third world economic levels. We may already be past that critical point, looking at the perpetual recession we are in.

Re:Offshoring IS a threat (1)

Arlet (29997) | about 3 years ago | (#37599744)

Not off-shoring is also a self-destructive strategy. It's just a matter of time before foreign companies can compete on complete products.

In the end, the only way to survive is to remain competitive with foreign workers.

Re:Offshoring IS a threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37599882)

Get rid of H1B visas, if you want to work in America, become a citizen.
Ban off-shoring for any kind of Financial, Medical, Personally identifiable information. Fines in excess of a billion dollars per violation ought to cover it.
Ban off-shoring management of systems that are used for above data. This includes employees of companies that are not located within the physical United States.
Ban off-shoring of offices for companies that are only used for tax evasion. All domestic sales routed through domestic offices.

Most big corporations specify in their contracts with service providers that all people who work on their systems are domestic employees. Ever wonder why?

Re:Offshoring IS a threat (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37600022)

Get rid of H1B visas, if you want to work in America, become a citizen.

So the people who would have moved to America to work for US Software, Inc and paid US taxes instead stay in their country and start up Cheaper Than US Software, Inc and the jobs move abroad.

I read an interesting book a couple of years back which argued that empires grew large by being open and allowing the 'best and brightest' from around the world to move to the imperial hub where they provided the most benefit to the empire. Then at some point they closed the doors and soon after the empire collapsed. I'm not entirely convinced that it's true, but it makes sense and seems to fit with current US government behaviour.

Re:Offshoring IS a threat (2)

chihowa (366380) | about 3 years ago | (#37600322)

So the people who would have moved to America to work for US Software, Inc and paid US taxes instead stay in their country and start up Cheaper Than US Software, Inc and the jobs move abroad.

H1B isn't a path to US citizenship. It's a means for undercutting the domestic wages while holding the foreign worker in a position where displeasing their employer can lead to being deported. We want the best and brightest of the world to become US citizens, not indentured servants.

Re:Offshoring IS a threat (2)

WCMI92 (592436) | about 3 years ago | (#37600378)

Not to mention the fraud and abuse involved with H1B would put Solyndra and "Fast and Furious" to shame. I once worked at a company that started bringing in H1B's.

They are required to CLAIM that they are paying prevailing market wages to the H1B employee. They never do. One guy they brought in, they claimed was being paid $50K/year. He was actually making less than half that.

Who could he complain to? He'd be deported if he did. This paperwork is NEVER audited by government either.

Re:Offshoring IS a threat (2)

WCMI92 (592436) | about 3 years ago | (#37600064)

The biggest reform we need (besides the slave wage H1B) is that we need to start considering the labor and environmental regulations of countries that products are imported from and labor is offshore to.

It is unfair for American business and industry to have the competitive DISADVANTAGE of our environmental and labor laws while products and services produced in places where producers can belch black smoke at will and pay far below American market rates for labor can be freely imported. There should be tariffs imposed that balance the playing field, so that American based companies have a level playing field... IN OUR OWN MARKET.
 

Conflict of interest? (1)

r2rknot (1102517) | about 3 years ago | (#37599684)

A security firm is saying regulations requiring code be secure would be bad? I'd say that too if it was my entire companies business.

It definitely is, but so is outsourcing (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 3 years ago | (#37599718)

An not only "national security" (never understood that particular US fetish), but a threat to data and software security in any environment. But so is outsourcing in the first place. Off-Shoring just makes the connection between customer and service-provider even more remote. The more remote this connection is, the less loyalty and less perception (and often reality) of the risk of repercussions. Add a cultural gap to make matters worse. And an often high fluctuation.

Incidentally, from what I have seen, Outsourcing/Off-Shoring is often pretty expensive. I have seen projects where 100 developers in India did a project that could have been done with 4-6 really competent domestic people. Not that I assume the 100 developers were on this full-time, I assume just a really bad development model, were everybody does a tiny bit of coding on his/her layer. Consequentially, 90% of the code was unwrapping and re-wrapping of parameters. But for any kind of security critical problem, you can do background-checks on the 4-6 developers. You may even know some of them personally and you can make sure they are happy with the conditions they are working under and grievances are addressed promptly. That is the way to get loyalty. Of course, this is impossible for the 100 anonymous Indian developers.

In addition, finding, e.g., back-doors in code is typically significantly more expensive than a re-implementation with trusted personnel.

Economics would say no, but... (1)

Subratik (1747672) | about 3 years ago | (#37599756)

Your country as a whole will have a heavier emphasis on foreign policy which can lead to bad situations like China or any other country getting into a war, which inevitably makes their problems ours.

So then we have a bunch of smart people trying to manage something we don't have and our economy tanks until we can find someone who can sustain our demand.

Pros/Cons with either situation, but that's politics

Wrong order (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37599852)

Offshoring is a National Security threat.

There, fixed that for you.

What will drive US companies out of the US? (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about 3 years ago | (#37599870)

The US Patent system will already drive companies off shore for good.

Wrong approach, where it's used not made. (1)

plopez (54068) | about 3 years ago | (#37599954)

If it is used in the US, a US dipomatic site (which is technically US soil), or a US military base (also technically US soil) mandate software quality. No matter where it is made. The US is such a large market it would force other countries to do this.

This next paragraph sort of expands on the Subratik's post.

And has anyone considered that competing with countries with cheap labor and resources, e.g. China, is a recipe for disaster for the US? There are two approaches, go cheap like China because you can or compete on quality like the Germans and the Japanese who do not have cheap resources and can never compete strictly on price. "Made in Germany" and "Made in Japan" have become synonymous with high quality engineering and manufacturing. If the US were to produce very high quality software It would be able to compete quite well. How to get there is a tough question, but the right question must first be asked.

congressmen (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37599958)

We don't hold congress accountable, why should we hold anyone?

Can we 'win on quality'? (1)

david.emery (127135) | about 3 years ago | (#37599982)

Well, it seems that a lot of corporate managers have bought into the notion that software inherently sucks. But it doesn't have to be that way. What if the US were to establish itself as the place to go for -quality software-, software that worked and that US companies stood behind? There are probably many comparisons with other industries; the auto industry comes to mind with German and Swedish cars recognized for higher quality engineering at a higher price. (That's not to denigrate the substantial quality that comes from either Japanese or Korean automakers!)

How many people have ever delivered a software product with a genuine warranty, "Find a bug and it will be fixed for free." (see http://212.113.201.96/services/software/approach.asp [212.113.201.96] for an example.)

Professionalism & lack of standards vs Get it (4, Insightful)

ErichTheRed (39327) | about 3 years ago | (#37600032)

During the banking crisis, people in the US and the UK heard this a lot about the financial sector -- if you regulate them too much, they'll just move somewhere without regulations. I think there's some truth to that, but I can't imagine every company loves the idea of operating in a completely unregulated environment.

One of the things I'm all for is professionalism in the IT world. Computers have been around for a long time, and now they're 100% vital to peoples' daily lives. It's time to start thinking about a couple of things:

- Separating the design and deployment portions of the IT landscape

- Making the design part a real branch of the engineering profession, with a set of educational standards

- Making the deployment part a skilled trade, with the necessary apprenticeships and career progression to attract new hires

Having a professional body would allow us to stand up to employers who demand that the schedule be crunched once again to meet an arbitrary date. No one tells a licensed PE who is liable for work they sign off on that they just lost a week of design time because someone said so...PEs are aware that they could lose their license or be sued out of existence. Currently, software isn't considered infrastructure, and so projects aren't run like bridge construction...they're arbitrary, and not grounded in reality.

The problem is that the field of IT is very broad. You have systems guys like me, network guys, software developers, deployment experts, hardware engineers -- it's all over the map. One thing I don't like about the current state of our profession is a lack of training standards. We leave a lot of training up to vendors like Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, IBM, etc. who have a vested interest in selling product and training a generation of newbies to use their technology. You also have a lot of independent IT people who have no desire to associate with a larger body of professionals, and wouldn't want the responsibility that professional status gives them. Even with the liability, I would be happy to be the equivalent of a PE because (a) I do good work, and (b) I'm well aware of what I don't know, and ask other professionals for help when needed. Other people in our field want nothing to do with this...they like the idea of being a cowboy coder or cowboy sysadmin and flying by the seat of their pants. Professionalism would also mean slowing down, realizing what works in terms of systems design, not trying to reinvent things every 6 months, etc. The laws of physics and properties of fluid dynamics don't change much -- techniques are introduced gradually in other branches of engineering. In our world, it's "new programming language", "new design pattern", "new OS", "new hardware design" every few years, and often it's just a rehash of what's come before.

The other problem, and the one that this article addresses, is that other countries are probably not willing to commit to playing by the same rules if we adopted them. In fact, there would be a huge uptick in business at "Joe's Code Shack" because they would promise unreasonably short turnaround times and just throw labor at the problem. It's not really a national security issue -- the root cause is that no one is willing to pay for proper engineering work and they just want things faster and faster for less money.

I think that a lot of specialized industries are starting to figure out what they can offshore and what just doesn't work when it comes back. I do systems integration work, and I have seen first-hand the disasters that come back from the "code monkeys" when there are no specs and bad oversight. It's not a cost savings if you have to hire a US contractor at 4x the rate of an FTE to wade through the mess and make it maintainable. One problem is that a lot of industries see IT is "grunt work" coding that people don't necessarily notice when it's done poorly. Anyone working for a large multinational who offshores development is probably well versed in things like internal web applications that crash unexpectedly, have a completely nonsensical UI, etc. I can't tell you how many Java/J2EE messes I've seen that routinely use 90-100% of a machine's CPU due to sloppy coding, poorly-designed DB queries, etc. Often, the developers' answer is "works as designed, just add more hardware."

China-Style: Sex, Cash and Stolen Technology (1)

StankyG (928592) | about 3 years ago | (#37600126)

Clean Energy, China-Style: Sex, Cash and Stolen Technology http://www.forbes.com/sites/williampentland/2011/09/23/clean-energy-china-style-sex-cash-and-stolen-technology/ [forbes.com] The article is just a little to the left of the topic, but does show how we spend the money on R&D and others reverse engineer it / steal it / acquire the knowledge in many other ways. Can we count on our 'partners' to share with us as we share with them? I am skeptical...

Yes . . . (1)

MSesow (1256108) | about 3 years ago | (#37600190)

For a sufficiently broad definition of "National Security Threat".

Why the developers? (1)

will_die (586523) | about 3 years ago | (#37600228)

The companies selling the product should be responsible, not some unknown worker. If they are not in the USA then they have some other company that imported the product to make it available for sale and they are responsible.
After all with the recent cases of tainted products coming from China no-one worried about the person making the item it was the fault of the company importing it that had legal problems.

Off shoring shouldn't be an issue. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 3 years ago | (#37600254)

If companies are off shoring things there is an economic reason for it. No amount of regulation is going to stop that short of tariffs and that will start a trade war that at this point we might lose.

Instead, the government should look to see if it's doing anything that is encouraging the off shoring rather then looking for ways to stop it through increasing regulation.

As to the strategic and tactical importance of keeping certain code projects domestic. Of course. If all the programmers that made your banking system for example or your missile guidance system are Chinese then that's a problem.

Off shoring grunt work that isn't strategic is fine but if you do it for the core work then you're asking for trouble.

Some companies have outsourced/off shored core business services and so far as I know they've always paid a stiff price. Typically what happens is that they effectively teach a competitor how to compete and rather then cut costs they pay for the education of their competitors who then release competing products at a reduced price point.

It's something of a hopeless situation so long as people think we can maintain American competitiveness through anti trade practices.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?! (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 3 years ago | (#37600268)

It is more than software, it is everything that is traded. It makes the landscape of Mad Max look pleasantly tranquil.

I really question the motives that allow America's wealth to be drained in one way or another to the amount of a Billion dollars a week to other countries. I question the motive of the statement, "Manufacture or Service it in <country />, to maintain an competitive Edge." The wealthy are not investing in America. They then should have no tax breaks. And their parent companies costing issues should be ignored at tax time. <humor>And their access to the beach should be from 2:00am to 4:00am on odd numbered Blue Moons.<humor/>

To be blunt. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37600284)

'falling behind world progress ...'

That ship has sailed, man.

Maybe right, tiring hoplessness (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 3 years ago | (#37600372)

I know that often these kinds of analyses can be right: imposing too many restrictions can hurt an industry.

However, sometimes these things just turn into hopeless naysaying. The government can't create any law or regulation without someone complaining that it will destroy the economy. Yes, having laws against lead-based paint in children's toys probably hurts some profits, causes some economic efficiency and "hurts the economy" in some ways. Sometimes that kind of economic efficiency isn't the most important thing.

Also, sometimes these analyses miss important things: the loss in economic efficiency due to banning lead-based paint is offset by having fewer healthcare costs due to lead poisoning, and also having a more efficient workforce in 20 years because of all the children who weren't sickened or killed by lead poisoning.

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