Ade Malsasa Akbar <email@example.com>
I am not a security expert, I am just a regular user of GNU/Linux operating systems. I want to revive this blog again with much more intense free software awareness materials than before. And in this article I want to explain in a very simple way why free software is secure to non-technical users of GNU/Linux and free software.
I want to emphasize generally two questions here, “is free software secure?” and “is nonfree software secure?” to give any newcomer in GNU/Linux community understand why they need to reject nonfree software because of its insecurity nature.
As a general glossary, I mention here two terms “free software” and “nonfree software”. What are them? Free software is software that the users are free (freedom, liberated) from its developer. As a contrary, nonfree software (also known as proprietary software) is a direct opposite to free software, it is software that the users are not free from its developer. Thus, free software gives the users complete four freedoms to run-study-modify-share, while nonfree software removes that freedoms from the users.
Is Free Software Secure?
Counter this general question with a basic question “secure from whom?“, then answer the basic question with “secure from its own developer”, then you get the general question answer “yes, free software is secure”.
Is Nonfree Software Secure?
Counter this general question with a basic question “secure from whom?“, then answer the basic question with “secure from certain things, but not secure against its own developer”, then you get the general question answer “no, nonfree software is not secure”.
Nonfree Software Has Flaws, But Its Source Code Has Been Closed! It’s Secure!
Counter this argumentation with a question “are the users have freedom to fix the software flaws, or not?“, answer this “no”, and you get the answer for that argumentation “no, nonfree software is still not secure”.
Second, counter this argumentation with another question “when my motorcycle experiences an error, may I myself open the machine to fix it or I am forbidden to do it?”, answer this “no, you have been forbidden to open the machine and to fix it before you bought it”, and you get the answer for that argumentation “no, again, nonfree software is still not secure”.
Third, counter this argumentation with another question “when somebody handcuffed my hands, am I secure from anyone else?”, answer this “no, somebody handcuffed you means they help another one to attack you”, and you get a strong answer for that argumentation “no, nonfree software is not secure at its most crucial point, against its own developer”.
But Free Software Has Flaws Too! How It Can Be Secure?
Counter this argumentation with a question “are the users have freedom to fix the software flaws, or not?“, answer this “yes”, and you get the answer for that argumentation “yes, free software is still secure”.
But Free Software Has Published Their Vulnerabilities! Now What?
Yes, it is true but don’t forget that nonfree software already has unlimited numbers of the same problems far beyond free software. Nonfree operating system has worldwide reputation in attacked by viruses and malware every day in every year in every version. Nonfree protocols lock down the users to use only nonfree software. Nonfree software applications have worldwide reputation to be weak of any virus or malware, and so does their document files. Nonfree antiviruses can not be completely trusted, because they are also nonfree. Worse, sometimes nonfree software developers do not publish their mistakes in their software, because they keep the source code secret, and this removes the chances for the users to fix it.
But Why People Says “Proprietary Is More Secure Because It’s Hidden”?
Because their developers want to control you, take away your software freedom. They confused “being hancuffed = secure” with “being free from handcuffs = secure”. The reality says “being free from handcuffs = secure”, and it is the real meaning of free software. When your hands are handcuffed, you can not be secure (no defense, no counter-attack) if anybody else attacks you. When you buy a motorcycle, you should have the right to ride it as you wish, otherwise you can not avoid the dangers on the street. Nonfree software can not be secure because the developer handcuffed the users by removing their freedom. They made mistake by assuming “the user handcuffed by the developer is secure”.
You understand this more than anyone, when you understand that computer viruses (and all malware in general), are the main source of your computer system insecurity. Ask one question “whether viruses are free software or nonfree software?”, and the answer is clear “virus and malware are nonfree software”. Nonfree software means the user controlled by the software, and the software controlled by the developer, and that is what exactly happened in all viruses and malware attacks.
But Why Nonfree Operating System Attacked By Viruses & Malware?
Because nonfree software has a special nature: nonfree software always attracts the user to use another nonfree software. If the operating system itself is nonfree, then if a virus or another malware infects it, it makes sense, because both of them are nonfree software.
But Why Virus Developers Target Nonfree Operating System?
Because they themselves understand nonfree operating system is the only system that can be controlled by any developer, from both the operating system developer itself (first-party) or its application developers (third-party).They understand this the most, more than a regular user like you or me.
On the contrary, they themselves understand free operating system is hard to control, because the users of free system have the complete control against their own software, both individually as a user and collectively as a social community. Any developer, any of third-parties, any vendor, any person, can not control the users of free software operating system. That is the reason.
Of course, automatically, almost all of virus or malware developers take no time to select nonfree operating system as their target of crime and at the same time select its users as the victims.
Again, Is Free Software Secure?
Yes, free software is secure. Because the users are free from any handcuff of any developer, the users have complete control over their own software in their own computers.
This article is non-technical by just mentioning the concepts in an easy going way. But serious users should read the more technical references to support this article and help themselves. You can find that my main sources are Free Software Foundation (FSF) because they are the most advanced worldwide in educating everyone about free software and rejecting nonfree software.
- http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/proprietary.html: collection of data showing that nonfree software is often malware. I understand that every virus or malware is nonfree from this page.
- https://www.gnu.org/proprietary/proprietary-insecurity.en.html: collection of data showing many examples of insecurity of nonfree software. I am sure you won’t believe they are exist except you read it.
- http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/malware-microsoft.html: collection of data showing how Microsoft’s software is malware. It is essential for all Windows users to read.
- https://www.gnu.org/proprietary/malware-adobe: collection of data showing how Adobe’s software is malware. This page is very short, but it contains an important warning “When a program proprietary, and even malware, don’t get distracted by the secondary issues like price“.
- https://www.gnu.org/proprietary/malware-apple.en.html: collection of data showing how Apple’s operating system is malware.
- http://blogs.fsfe.org/h2/2016/05/31/why-privacy-is-more-than-crypto: a very good “introduction” for non-technical and beginner users in computer security through mentioning privacy is more important than cryptography. You will get a good security sense after reading this.
- https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/practical.html: a very short article showing the idea that nonfree software is handcuff for the users. I got the idea of “handcuffs” from this article.
This article “Is Free Software Secure?” by Ade Malsasa Akbar is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 (CC BY-SA) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/.