Open Source Solution Disadvantages

“Open Source” software – applications like the Firefox web browser and Google Android – are often excellent. Even better, they are usually free. But there is a catch…

The term “open source” refers to the fact that the software code is available to (most) anybody who wants it. The benefit is that an infinite number of great programmers can write add-ons and improve the software. The drawbacks though stem from those same programmers who don’t support their application or create malware and viruses that can jeopardize your privacy and cyber security.

So what are the risks? Let’s take a look:


1) Trust

Open Source software is often trusted as though it were a licensed product. And while applications like Firefox and Android come from large, trustworthy companies, the Firefox Extensions and the Google Play Store allow people to upload applications and add-ons that can be dangerous. In fact, the number of Android apps infected with malware more than quadrupled between 2012 and 2014 – in large part because too many people trust that if they download something from Google, that it must be safe.

It’s not.

In fact, because of the treat of malware on Android devices, there are apps designed specifically to help you keep your phone/tablet secure.

It’s best to always be cautious when installing open source software, and when doing so be aware of any odd requests/requirements during the installation process.


2) Risk Management

Imagine a company IT manger who’s had a falling out with management; now they are angry. With closed-source, licensed, software the company will be able to quickly protect itself by changing passwords and taking a few other security measures to prevent the disgruntled employee from maliciously accessing computers, e-mail, servers, or other technology.

But just ONE piece of Open Source software could provide that person with a back-door to everything. These vulnerabilities, that the management never knew the IT manager created, can result in massive security breaches.


3) Product Maintenance

Recently TrueCrypt, an Open Source based data encryption application, was found to have two new, serious security flaws.  How?  As one of the few encryption options for the Windows OS, it is a target for hackers and researchers alike.

The more important question though is WHY?!  Because the original developers abandoned the application.  This is not uncommon with Open Source applications, and can happen for many reasons.

When software isn’t maintained, like with TrueCrypt, changes in technology can expose vulnerabilities.  Those vulnerabilities become even more obvious and easier to exploit when the source code is available in part (or whole) like Open Source applications by their very nature are.

And even if you avoid getting hacked, now you have to invest energy is migrate any data in the old application to a new service.  That’s a cost often avoided with Off The Shelf software that makes such migration part of software upgrades.


4) Cost

Yup, there is a cost! As they say, “there is no such thing as a free lunch”.

Your free, open-source browser monetizes itself by capturing user data which is then sold to help other companies market their products and services.  Think your cloud-based storage solution is free – think again and again!

The cost of free software is often your privacy. To many, that’s often seen as only a minor inconvenience though.

But there are other “costs”.

Open Source software rarely comes with documentation, and support (when available) is a paid for service. As one expert noted:

“The problem with open source is that you’re not buying from any vendor. So there’s no one to fall back on for help. You might not get any support, or no phone number you can call.”

This might not be a problem for an IT professional or someone who is very computer savvy. But tell that to an employee who is working late to meet a deadline and has their Open Source spreadsheet application freeze or their free data transfer tool crash.

For companies that think Open Source software platforms will save them money (like using a free content management system for their website), the cost to have a professional properly integrate and maintain those systems is often comparable to the cost of buying licensed, off-the-shelf programs.


5) Difficult to use

Just as “there is no free lunch”, remember that “you get what you pay for”. Open Source software is often created by just a few programmers who, while potentially excellent at writing code, are often not worried about design and user experience.

The result… great software, if you can figure out how to use it.

Our guess, you can think of an application or two that you’ve used that is just like this. Maybe it was difficult to use. Maybe it was beautifully designed but buggy.


Not only are these scenarios frustrating, but in business time is money. Every minute wasted on figuring out buggy or difficult software is time and money that could’ve been invested in a well constructed, stable application.

Are there any other problems that you’ve had with Open Source software? If so, share them with us.

Safety4Data is a close-source “Software As A Service” (SaaS) application. While the download is free, to use the software requires a subscription. If you’d like to learn more about Safety4Data, visit our website and download the Safety4Data application to start your FREE trial subscription.

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