Internet Security and the Limits of Open Source and Peer Production

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* Doctoral Thesis: Secrecy vs. Openness. Internet Security and the Limits of Open Source and Peer Production. Andreas Schmidt. Delft University of Technology, 2015

URL = (online version)

(The PDF includes a five-pages summary.)


"Open source and peer production have been praised as organisational models that could change the world for the better. It is commonly asserted that almost any societal activity could benefit from distributed, bottom-up collaboration — by making societal interaction more open, more social, and more democratic. However, we also need to be mindful of the limits of these models. How could they function in environments hostile to openness? Security is a societal domain more prone to secrecy than any other, except perhaps for romantic love. In light of the destructive capacity of contemporary cyber attacks, how has the Internet survived without a comprehensive security infrastructure? Secrecy vs. openness describes the realities of Internet security production through the lenses of open source and peer production theories. The study offers a glimpse into the fascinating communities of technical experts, who played a pivotal role when the chips were down for the Internet after large-scale attacks. After an initial flirtation with openness in the early years, operational Internet security communities have put in place institutional mechanisms that have resulted in less open forms of social production."

More Information

  • " there is superbly designed and manufactured print version available. It is not for sale, but my faculty has a decent number of copies available for interested individuals and organisations." Contact author via [email protected]
  • @shmt,


Schmidt, Andreas (2014). Hierarchies in networks. Emerging hybrids of networks and hierarchies for producing Internet security. In Jan-Frederik Kremer & Benedikt Müller (Eds.), Cyber space and international relations: Theory, prospects and challenges (pp. 181-202). Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-37481-4_11. (Book homepage; draft pdf)

Schmidt, Andreas (2013). Open security. Contributions of networked approaches to the challenge of democratic Internet security governance. In Roxana Radu, Jean-Marie Chenou & Rolf Weber (Eds.), The evolution of global Internet governance — principles and policies in the making (pp. 169-187). Zürich:

Schulthess. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-45299-4_10. (Draft pdf)

Mueller, Milton, Schmidt, Andreas, and Kuerbis, Brenden (2013). Internet Security and Networked Governance in International Relations. International Studies Review Vol. 15, No. 1. doi:10.1111/misr.12024 (Wiley online version)

Schmidt, Andreas. The Estonian Cyberattacks (2013). In Jason Healey (ed), The Fierce Domain – Conflicts in Cyberspace 1986-2012, with a foreword by the President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves (pp. 174-193). Washington, D.C.: Atlantic Council. (Book homepage; draft pdf)

Schmidt, Andreas (2012). At the boundaries of peer production: The organization of Internet security production in the cases of Estonia 2007 and Conficker. Telecommunications Policy, 36(6), 451-461. doi:10.1016/j.telpol.2012.02.00. (Sciencedirect online version; draft pdf)

Mueller, Milton, Ku, Min-Chun, & Schmidt, Andreas (2009). Transnational regimes and the response to cybercrime: The case of phishing. Paper presented at the annual convention of the International Studies Association, New York, 14-18 Feb 2009.

Schmidt, Andreas (2009). Conceptualizing Internet security governance. Paper prepared for the Giganet conference, Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt, November 2009. (pdf)