Author's Opinion

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of iTWire.

Have your say and comment below.

Monday, 23 January 2012 11:03

Life-giving software should be open: GNOME Foundation chief

By

Software that controls vital human functions should always be open source, else it could prove to be a danger to one's existence, the executive director of the GNOME Foundation says.

Karen Sandler, who was in Melbourne on her way back to the US from the Australian national Linux conference in Ballarat, makes the observation from personal experience; she suffers from a condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy where the human heart is much bigger than normal, making the risk of dying suddenly a very real thing.

When Sandler (below) was made aware of her condition five years ago, her first reaction to being told that she needed a pacemaker was "what is it running?" Her investigations of such medical devices led her, along with three others, to write a paper in 2010 titled "Killed by code: software transparency in implantable medical devices."

She finally agreed to have an older model of pacemaker, which does not have wireless capability, implanted, when her doctor told her that the risk she was exposing herself to was huge.
Karen Sandler
The paper says: "The software on these devices performs life-sustaining functions such as cardiac pacing and defibrillation, drug delivery, and insulin administration. It is also responsible for monitoring, recording and storing private patient information, communicating wirelessly with other computers, and responding to changes in doctors' orders."

Sandler says there is a danger of people hacking into insulin pumps and putting others' lives at risk. If the code is open, then bugs will be found out much faster and even if a bug is found, it can be fixed fast.

At a security conference last year, a hacker who is himself diabetic demonstrated how one could hack into an insulin pump, to show exactly how poor the security of the device was.

Sandler points out in the paper that the US Food and Drug Administration issued 23 recalls of defective devices in 2010, all of them classified as Class I which means there is "reasonable probability that use of these products will cause serious adverse health consequences or death."

She pointed out that the use of software to control functions in vehicles was increasing and this was another area where it was dangerous to have closed code. It would be relatively simple for someone to take control of a car and cause the driver's death.

The compromising of a system was being done with commonly available commmercial tools which made it all the more scary, Sandler pointed out. The US Department of Defence itself has said that "continuous and broad peer-review, enabled by publicly available source code, improves software reliability and security through the identification and elimination of defects that might otherwise go unrecognized (sic) by the core development team."


Subscribe to ITWIRE UPDATE Newsletter here

PROMOTE YOUR WEBINAR ON ITWIRE

It's all about Webinars.

Marketing budgets are now focused on Webinars combined with Lead Generation.

If you wish to promote a Webinar we recommend at least a 3 to 4 week campaign prior to your event.

The iTWire campaign will include extensive adverts on our News Site itwire.com and prominent Newsletter promotion https://itwire.com/itwire-update.html and Promotional News & Editorial. Plus a video interview of the key speaker on iTWire TV https://www.youtube.com/c/iTWireTV/videos which will be used in Promotional Posts on the iTWire Home Page.

Now we are coming out of Lockdown iTWire will be focussed to assisting with your webinatrs and campaigns and assassistance via part payments and extended terms, a Webinar Business Booster Pack and other supportive programs. We can also create your adverts and written content plus coordinate your video interview.

We look forward to discussing your campaign goals with you. Please click the button below.

MORE INFO HERE!

INTRODUCING ITWIRE TV

iTWire TV offers a unique value to the Tech Sector by providing a range of video interviews, news, views and reviews, and also provides the opportunity for vendors to promote your company and your marketing messages.

We work with you to develop the message and conduct the interview or product review in a safe and collaborative way. Unlike other Tech YouTube channels, we create a story around your message and post that on the homepage of ITWire, linking to your message.

In addition, your interview post message can be displayed in up to 7 different post displays on our the iTWire.com site to drive traffic and readers to your video content and downloads. This can be a significant Lead Generation opportunity for your business.

We also provide 3 videos in one recording/sitting if you require so that you have a series of videos to promote to your customers. Your sales team can add your emails to sales collateral and to the footer of their sales and marketing emails.

See the latest in Tech News, Views, Interviews, Reviews, Product Promos and Events. Plus funny videos from our readers and customers.

SEE WHAT'S ON ITWIRE TV NOW!

BACK TO HOME PAGE
Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

Share News tips for the iTWire Journalists? Your tip will be anonymous

WEBINARS ONLINE & ON-DEMAND

GUEST ARTICLES

VENDOR NEWS

Guest Opinion

Guest Reviews

Guest Research

Guest Research & Case Studies

Channel News

Comments