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November 2003

The security costs of outsourcing software development

Horace Greeley told people to go West for their fortunes, but corporations are looking east -- the Far East -- to save money on software development. Instead of paying programmers handsome annual salaries and benefits, companies are finding trained and hungry experts overseas. For a fraction of the domestic costs, businesses such as Oracle and Guardian Insurance are getting coding for products or internal applications in India, China, Russia and elsewhere. The results work well enough that the practice has expanded. But specters of cyberterrorism, computer crime and economic espionage make application integrity and security major issues. Those safely succeeding are finding that they must rigorously choose their offshore partners, perform extended due diligence, set clear expectations, create a legal framework, and stay thoroughly involved in the process to remain safe. There are two potential problems when someone -- an employee or third party, foreign or domestic -- writes code for a company: the inclusion of malicious code -- ...

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