Every business uses some form of software, whether it’s for word processing or detecting malware. When you add up the costs for programs to open and edit PDFs, perform basic accounting, and create images, it’s tempting to see what’s available through open-source channels.
Although finding open-source software will inevitably cut down on your business’s costs, it is intrinsically problematic, and we’ll show you three reasons why you should avoid it when you can.
What is Open-Source Software?
Open-source software (OSS) is a type of software that is provided to the general public along with its source code. That means programmers can take that code and alter it to suit their needs or fix it up over time. This software also comes with rules about how to control its distribution. Needless to say, most big-name software companies would never do this.
How Does Open-Source Software Work?
Open-source software works by being stored in a public place, often on websites, where the product can be viewed and distributed. Anyone can download the software and use the code or offer suggested changes to it.
Furthermore, OSS comes with a license agreement that details how people can use, alter, and distribute the software. When the OSS code is changed, the alterations and methods used to make those changes have to be detailed in the documentation, and some changes in functionality may not be available to all users free of charge. They’ll become a premium service.
Problems with Open-Source Software
Although it may be tempting to completely outfit a business with OSS, that might not be a wise decision. Take a look at three problems inherent in using open-source software.
The legal uncertainty surrounding open-source licenses poses a real threat to small businesses. When using OSS, there is no way for most people to know if the software has code that was copied from another company. If your business was ever caught using legally protected code without permission, the legal consequences could be dire, to say the least. It would certainly cost more than a yearly license renewal.
Vulnerabilities Are Made Public
The year 2021 might go down in history as being one of the worst for ransomware and hacking. More people are figuring out how to exploit vulnerabilities in systems and get away with it.
You may have already figured out the problem with OSS and security: the code is available to everyone, including hackers. These vulnerabilities are made public all the time, and it only takes a savvy person to figure out how to exploit the system and become a threat.
Not Knowing Your Sources
How do you know whether to trust an OSS? The truth is that trust for an OSS comes from a majority opinion of users and developers, and it is built over time. Yet, new open-source programs are being released all the time.
Imagine that you need an accounting program, and you choose to download the first OSS version you find, but it doesn’t have a positive consensus from users and reviewers. You’ve just put yourself and your business at risk because you do not know the source of the code.
It could be stolen code, a malware trap, or trouble of another sort.
Not all OSS is bad, but there are some bad ones out there, and you need the confidence to say you can tell the difference.
Open-source software is highly customizable but often not as well polished as software from major companies. To avoid the risks associated with OSS, it’s often better to pay for a licensing fee and get the ongoing security and trust that comes from working with an established company.
WheelHouse IT is a gold-level Microsoft partner who can help you get the most out of your software.
Learn more at our Microsoft page or contact us so we can help evaluate your needs and point you in the right direction.