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October 2007

Redefining free security software

Remember when Nessus updates and plug-ins were free? It wasn't that long ago. And when the latest Snort signatures were a few gratis clicks away too? Those were the days when the best open source security software was free, as in free beer. Well, Nessus had to grow up; Snort too. They've been commercialized by those that built them, and that was inevitable. After all, this is a capitalistic society, and eventually the socialism that is the free software movement just doesn't pay the bills. Today, the core Nessus engine is free, and you can still get Snort at no cost, but the free beer analogy has gone a little flat. Timely updates will cost you an expensive license agreement, and the words copyright, patent and acquisition have infiltrated the lexicon of "the community." Smart guys like Renaud Deraison at Tenable and Marty Roesch at Sourcefire have mastered teetering the fragile boundary between upsetting the bottom line and satisfying their open source following. ClamAV was the latest open source project to see dollar signs and...

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