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The US military wants to understand the most important software on Earth


abarbarian
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abarbarian

Open-source code runs on every computer on the planet—and keeps America’s critical infrastructure going. DARPA is worried about how well it can be trusted

 

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It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that the whole world is built on top of the Linux kernel—although most people have never heard of it.

 

It is one of the very first programs that load when most computers power up. It enables the hardware running the machine to interact with the software, governs its use of resources, and acts as the foundation of the operating system. 

It is the core building block of nearly all cloud computing, virtually every supercomputer, the entire internet of things, billions of smartphones, and more.

But the kernel is also open source, meaning anyone can write, read, and use its code. And that’s got cybersecurity experts inside the US military seriously worried. Its open-source nature means the Linux kernel—along with a host of other pieces of critical open-source software—is exposed to hostile manipulation in ways that we still barely understand.

 

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DARPA’s  “SocialCyber” program is an 18-month-long, multimillion-dollar project that will combine sociology with recent technological advances in artificial intelligence to map, understand, and protect these massive open-source communities and the code they create. It’s different from most previous research because it combines automated analysis of both the code and the social dimensions of open-source software.

 

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The ultimate goal is to detect and counteract any malicious campaigns to submit flawed code, launch influence operations, sabotage development, or even take control of open-source projects. 

 
 

To do this, the researchers will use tools such as sentiment analysis to analyze the social interactions within open-source communities such as the Linux kernel mailing list, which should help identify who is being positive or constructive and who is being negative and destructive. 

 

Whilst this may sound like a good project at first I bet it will soon turn into a J.E.Hoover like project and witch hunt. 🧐

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