The important role OpenSSL plays in securing the Internet has never been matched by the financial resources devoted to maintaining it.
The open source cryptographic software library secures hundreds of thousands of Web servers and many products sold by multi-billion-dollar companies, but it operates on a shoestring budget. OpenSSL Software Foundation President Steve Marquess wrote in a blog post last week that OpenSSL typically receives about $2,000 in donations a year and has just one employee who works full time on the open source code.Given that, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by the existence of Heartbleed, a security flaw in OpenSSL that can expose user passwords and the private encryption keys needed to protect websites.
OpenSSL’s bare-bones operations are in stark contrast to some other open source projects that receive sponsorship from corporations relying on their code. Chief among them is probably the Linux operating system kernel, which has a foundation with multiple employees and funding from HP, IBM, Red Hat, Intel, Oracle, Google, Cisco, and many other companies. Workers at some of these firms spend large amounts of their employers’ time writing code for the Linux kernel, benefiting everyone who uses it.