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mozilla.org Adds Security to Open Source Initiative

In a move to expand its development resources, mozilla.org Tuesday added security source code, courtesy of the Sun/Netscape Alliance, to its browser development resources.

The Sun/Netscape Alliance will contribute its public key infrastructure source code to Mozilla, including versions of the Netscape Security Services and Personal Security Manager tools. NSS provides secure sockets layer (SSL) and PKI architecture for integration into Web programs. PSM is an independent security module designed to ease PKI functions for end users by simplifying SSL connections, object signing, signature verification and certificate management.

mozilla.org expects the first contributions of code from the Alliance to be made available by March 31, with continuing contributions thereafter.

The announcement coincides with new U.S. government regulations that allow U.S.-based developers to export encryption source code.

Mitchell Baker, chief lizard wrangler at mozilla.org, said the group can now provide free access to security source code worldwide, enable ongoing contributions and improvements by the development community and include security source code in mozilla.org releases.

"This contribution provides Mozilla with a high-quality open source security component for the browser," Mitchell said. "The benefit to the industry will only increase as security contributions to mozilla.org increase, enabling secure commerce and enhanced privacy around the world."

Guy Montag, an open source activist, applauded the decision to offer PKI source code to developers, adding that the news is good for the open source movement.

"Anything that adds functionality to an open source program helps," Montag said. "I think the new security additions are fantastic."

Tuesday's news follows Mozilla.org's preview last month of its latest browser, labeled the M12 Build. The browser can be supported by Unix, Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems.

In related news, Mike Shaver, a top developer who jumped ship last week from Mozilla.org, resurfaced Tuesday as chief software officer at Zero Knowledge Systems, Inc., a leading developer of Internet privacy and identity-management tools. He will also reportedly continue working with Mozilla.org, as time permits.