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Open Source, Simple And Safe

23 September 2014 by Jenn Granger

There are certain times when even though you know that things will go easier on you if you do one small task at the time, if it means even the smallest amount of effort, let’s be honest, you probs won’t do it. It’s true for going to the toilet before undertaking a long journey, and it’s true for updating your computer security. Well now a trio of internet security dons have aligned to make security open source, simpler, and safer.


Dropbox, Google and the Open Technology Fund have come together to try and make open source privacy and security tools easier to use and more effective at keeping us safe.

The project is called Simply Secure, and has come about because at the moment many of the security tools that consumers have available to them aren’t really used because they’re kinda complicated; the classic techy conundrum – just because it seems simple to the person designing it, it doesn’t mean it is to the end/average user (something I have to remind our tech guys of every time they talk to me).

The organisation is coming from the open source angle because it says that for security to be trustworthy it needs to be transparent – which is usually true; it also allows everyone to learn from each other. They say they’re going to be asking questions like:  “Researching and developing usability and security auditing practices – how do we measure the two in a single assessment?” Sound like something that you’d benefit from? ‘Coz it probably would be!

As part of the fight for our security, Simply Secure is asking for contributions from other people that want to help; and whilst it seems altruistic (or just for people who have a passion for online security), as we’ve said before, creating a stronger security presence online will help everyone: once there’s a chink in the armour, the whole body (that’s us by the way, we’re all the body) is vulnerable. So, they’re calling for input from anyone using secure communications tech, designing user experiences, developing security software, and researching usability and technology.

The organisation is running alongside other industry-led initiatives that are trying to increase online security – for example, the SHA upgrades, and investigating decent alternatives to the classic passwords. Google – notoriously good for security but bad for privacy – is also working on releasing a new two factor authentication token as a more secure way of authenticating online.

What is open source?

In case you’ve been reading this all like “Is open source just a jar of Uncle Ben’s that’s been left without a lid?” here’s the skinny on open source (not sauce).

If something is open source it generally means that a product’s original behind-the-scenes ‘source code’ is available for others to use or modify. It’s essentially a free licence that allows others to look into the workings behind the product’s design, and says that you’re allowed to view or even continue to work on it yourself, so there can be lots of different versions of products that are based on the same original software.

It often also includes an element of collaboration, as programmers will share changes and improvements within the community; and the software will generally be distributed under licences that comply with open source definition.

So, the fight for our cyber souls continues, and this time we may get a glimpse into the inner workings of what’s keeping us safe. Watch this space.

If you have any questions about the security solutions at UKFast, take a look at our website or give us a call on 0208 045 4945.