The Expense of Unprotected Free Software

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2024-07-05 03:30:16

Ten years ago, my friend Philip gave me a week to come up with a closing keynote for the 2014 FOSDEM (Free and Open-source Software Developers' European Meeting) in Brussels, Belgium. I obliged and presented "Operation Orchestra."

Edward Snowden, who was charged with leaking top-secret documents in 2013, was still fresh in my mind, so my departure point was simply: "What would I do about open source if I were the director of the NSA (National Security Agency) with a billion-dollar budget?"

To make a very serious topic palatable, I asked my audience to imagine I was a junior NSA staffer sent to Brussels to brief some NATO gathering but had, by accident, wandered into FOSDEM instead.

I could have made more of that joke, and maybe I should have. Still, I think the keynote was OK. Certainly, I was satisfied when it was over. But you should judge for yourself. The video is on the Internet, and the topic is still relevant.

In fact, it was recently discovered, entirely by accident, that the almost universally used XZ compression software had been sabotaged by some nebulous but sophisticated actor, under the guise of a thin identity.

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