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Security 'misunderstandings' remain open source barrier

UKauthorITy - Cultural barriers and misunderstanding of security risks remain the biggest blocks to the public sector's wider implementation of open source, the civil servant tasked with boosting open source has told

Robin Pape, chief information officer for the Home Office and the senior responsibility officer within government for open source and open standards, said open source software is still not being given appropriate consideration when government bodies evaluate software options.

"The primary reason open source isn't considered is cultural - government customers and its leading suppliers have largely been happy to procure proprietary commercial software and have not been aware of, or had experience with, open source alternatives". Pape said in an email interview with "This is changing, and we can encourage this change by recognising that an "intelligent customer" function requires both a technical and commercial understanding of open computing, as well as a difference in how the market is engaged."

Another significant reason is misunderstanding of how the government IT security process applies to open source, he said. "We have worked to clarify the security risks around open source, and the good news is that on balance open source is no more or less secure closed than closed source software. This means that open source software cannot be excluded from an options analysis for security reasons alone."