The US Pentagon ready to embrace open source software

News has surfaced that the US Pentagon is looking to make a big push towards open source software in 2018, should legislation permit it.

Open source, by its nature, is a shared tool, much more like creative commons than copyright. One big advantage is that, often, the agreements to run open-source software are much more relaxed than those behind proprietary code, and come without licensing fees.

Therefore, it is no surprise that the US Pentagon is set to make a major investment in open source software.

>See also: The value of open source software

Commenting on the news is Javvad Malik, security advocate at AlienVault: “The arguments for and against the use of open-source software are long-standing. While licence costs are eliminated by using open source software, it doesn’t eliminate the associated costs of support, maintenance, and hardware requirements. In the big scheme of things, the license cost may be insignificant in some instances.”

“The second widely-debated aspect is the security. The general consensus is that open source software may be more secure because there are more chances for researchers to discover flaws. However, as we saw with OpenSSH and similar, that is not always the case.”

“Ultimately, it comes down to individual companies, its risk appetite, and financial requirements. There is no one approach that would suit all scenario’s, but care must be taken to not switch on the basis of false promises.”

>See also: Open source and proprietary software: the key for an analytic project

However, this move to open source will only be achievable if section 886 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 is passed.

The section acknowledges the use of open source software, the release of source code into public repositories, and a competition to inspire work with open source that supports the mission of the Department of Defense.


Cesare Garlati, chief security strategist at the prpl Foundation highlights that “there has long been a stigma attached to it that open source software means it’s free, but that is not necessarily the case. To get the best out of open source, it requires skilled professionals and developers as well as global, interoperable standards. They effectively allow firms to outsource the trickiest work to the subject matter experts. These experts create the most secure standards and frameworks possible for designers to follow.”

Avatar photo

Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

Related Topics

Open Source