Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Open Source Insecurity? Don't Tell the Military

Think of the most high risk, highly classified area for using technology. Military units trying to communicate in the heat of battle. Surely, fighting wars is too demanding, too dangerous, too chaotic to risk using any systems based on open source and open standards?

Think again. War is the ultimate interoperability challenge.

The U.S. military's newest, most advanced battlefield technology is based on open standards and open source. When bullets fly, the U.S. turns to open technologies to ensure interoperability -- to ensure that coalition forces can communicate over secure networks, share classified data in real time, and coordinate combat operations.

Governments who think that open technologies are too insecure, immature and unreliable for mission critical activities could not be more wrong.

Generic statements about the security or insecurity of any technology are useless at best, and usually just propaganda for someone's beliefs. But the U.S. military is finding new ways to apply open technologies to their hardest, most dangerous needs.

Web-based chat, shared whiteboards to map operations, shared databases, file transfer -- and all based on open standards and all scheduled for deployment. Without compromising security, or secrecy. It is the very openness of these technologies that allows the military to ensure interoperability, maintain flexibility to rapidly integrate future innovations, and guard security.

And it is not only the U.S. military; others are turning to open technologies.

Does that make application of open technologies easy? No. Does it mean that every government agency should take notice? Yes.

Categories: opensource, openstandards, military


Paul Parkinson said...

Jeff, you raise some very important issues.

Interoperability is a huge challenge for coalition forces, in particular the need to exchange information of various classifications in a secure manner.

Open standards are important on so many levels: from network protocols, through to data encryption, to the integration of software applications from different platforms on a common platform.

Jeff said...

So, one question is whether other militaries that coordinate with the US are making the same moves to open standards and open platforms?