Those wanting to support the OpenSSL project can now make donations in bitcoin, as well as via more traditional means of payment.
First released in 1998, OpenSSL is a commercial-grade, open-source toolkit implementing the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols, as well as a full-strength general purpose cryptography library.
Currently at version 1.0.1g, and with 1.0.2 currently in beta, it is estimated that OpenSSL is now used on two-thirds of all web servers.
However, the OpenSSL project is headed by a relatively small team with just one full-time employee. The annual budget for the whole project is under $1m and much of the money comes in the form of donations through the OpenSSL Software Foundation.
The OSF, which was set up to support the project, is incorporated as a regular for-profit organisation, so the donations are not tax-deductible, but corporate donations are considered business expenses.
Four levels of sponsorship acknowledgement are on offer, starting at $5,000 a year, and ad hoc donations of any amount are also welcome. The foundation accepts several major credit cards and PayPal, as well as – as of a few days ago – bitcoin.
OpenSSL does not get a lot of media coverage except in professional, niche publications.
However, a few weeks ago the foundation got its 15 minutes of fame for all the wrong reasons, when the notorious Heartbleed bug – which was caused by an oversight in OpenSSL versions 1.0.1 through 1.0.1f – came to light.
The flaw was identified two weeks ago and was quickly patched up by the vast majority of companies, including bitcoin operators and Bitcoin Core developers.
Caution is still advised, however, and many sites and services are advising users to change their passwords for additional security and peace of mind.
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