Security problems in software are of course an extremely bad thing, regardless of the business model under which the software was written. I want to consider why anybody thinks that the business model matters, and whether there is evidence that it does. I shall also look somewhat to the future.
Are security bugs different from ordinary bugs? This is a relevant question to follow Ross Anderson’s talk. On balance I would claim that they are, not for a technical but for a social reason. Consider a paradigmatic “ordinary” bug, such as a library that wrongly calculates the square root of 2, while apparently doing everything else right. After a certain amount of hilarity the community response would be either to use a different library, or, more likely, to avoid taking the square root of 2. If a security bug is found in a system there is a community of people who make it their personal priority to make the wrong behavior happen, typically in other people’s computers. This must affect any kind of statistical analysis.
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