RALEIGH – A team of executives from Raleigh-based Red Hat dialed in virtually to Washington on Thursday to discuss growing cybersecurity threats and explore ways to toughen open source software and solutions. And they see good coming from the meeting.

“A key theme of the meeting was the recognition that open source software has accelerated the pace of technological innovation, provides tremendous societal and economic benefits, and can contribute greatly to enhancing trust and cybersecurity,” Red Hat – which is owned by IBM – said in a statement issued after the meeting.

“We look forward to working with the Administration and a broad set of stakeholders on any next steps and will continue our focus on supporting our customers and strengthening the open source ecosystem.”

Matt Hicks, executive vice president of Products and Technologies at Red Hat, Chris Wright, senior vice president and chief technology officer (CTO), and Mark Bohannon, vice president of Global Public Policy at Red Hat, participated.

‘Cyber is the most dangerous weapon in the world,’ execs warn

But in the statement they also noted that other software remains threatened as well. Red Hat cited a cybersecurity executive order issued by the White House last year. It is “fundamental to improving the security posture of all software—both proprietary and open source, including assuring that vendors of all stripes maintain greater visibility into their software, take responsibility for its life cycle, and make security data publicly available,” Red Hat noted.

Open source is essential to Red Hat’s global operations.  And hackers are an increasing threat as the World Economic Forum acknowledged in a new report earlier this week. It’s publicly accessible code that users across the internet can inspect and modify in the name of collaboration.

Cyberthreats and the growing space race are emerging risks to the global economy, adding to existing challenges posed by climate change and the coronavirus pandemic, the Associated Press reported.

“We’re at the point now where cyberthreats are growing faster than our ability to effectively prevent and manage them,” said Carolina Klint, a risk management leader at Marsh, whose parent company Marsh McLennan co-authored the report with Zurich Insurance Group and SK Group.

How serious is the threat?

“Cyber is the most dangerous weapon in the world — politically, economically and militarily,” former Defense Secretary Bob Gates, the vice chairman of the JPMorgan International Council, said in a recent report

Thursday’s meeting was called to discuss ways of making open-source computer code more secure after a critical vulnerability emerged last month that US officials said could have affected hundreds of millions of devices worldwide.

The virtual meeting included officials from the White House, the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security and other departments and agencies. The focus: “what has worked and what else can be done to secure the open-source software that we all fundamentally rely on,” CNN reported, citing an administration source.

The guest list includes executives from Amazon, Facebook parent company Meta, IBM, Red Hat, Apple, Google and Microsoft, among other businesses, along with the Linux and Apache open-source software organizations, according to the White House.

Read Red Hat’s full statement online.

CNN and the Associated Press contributed to this report.