An upcoming study from the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute takes the view that open source software is less secure than proprietary software, warning that "Terrorists trying to hack or disrupt U.S. computer networks might find it easier if the federal government attempts to switch to iopen sourcei as some groups propose." A May 31st article at ZDNet sums up the ADTIis position:
The report, Opening the Open Source Debate, will be released this week. You can read the ZDNet article in full at their Web site.
Open-source software is freely available for distribution and modification, as long as the modified software is itself available under open-source terms. The Linux operating system is the best-known example of open source, having become popular in the Web server market because of its stability and low cost.
Many researchers have also suggested that since a large community contributes to and scrutinizes open-source code, security holes are less likely to occur than in proprietary software, and can be caught and fixed more quickly.
The ADTI white paper, to be released next week, will take the opposite line, outlining "how open source might facilitate efforts to disrupt or sabotage electronic commerce, air traffic control or even sensitive surveillance systems," the institute said.