Do you strongly believe that Open Source is all about companies giving everything for free? Hell, No! It simply means people can download the code and inspect it, perhaps make suggestions or fixes and try things out. As you are reading the post, I assume that you understand the benefits well, so let’s focus on the other edge, open source vulnerabilities.
Despite several shockwaves hitting hard, industries still have a long way to go in protecting their end products. One of the key areas where they must focus on is the Open Source components which comprise 60-80% of the code base in each and every modern applications. Considering the overall landscape, it is only getting a massive and diverse day in day out. According to Forrester and Gartner, 80-90% of commercial software developers have started making use of open source components within their applications. Which means organizations across the globe, from every vertical imaginable try, making the most out of open source code to empower their businesses.
About Open Source Vulnerabilities
Vulnerabilities in open source are quite similar to exploits found in proprietary products. These are nothing but mere bits of code that were either written with mistakes that hackers can take advantage of or certain features which allow an attacker to carry around a harmful action in a way that was not intended by the author of the code. While there are certain cases, which can lead to issues like a denial of service (DoS) and take a service offline, whereas some serious exploits can give the hacker the keys to the kingdom by providing them with remote access to your system. This is the point where the similarity between open source and proprietary ends.
Securing open source libraries
At present, developers are seen as highly relying on open source software and organization are inclined to use free popular libraries. After taking a close look at Barkley’s 2016 Cybersecurity Confidence Report, it was found that only 22% of organizations have a framework to regularly identify and analyze the various components built on their applications. With the growing use of open source code, the risk of exposure seems to be expanding well. Further below, I would like to mention certain practices for reviewing dependencies, finding vulnerabilities, and patching them accordingly.
- Setting up strict security rules and standards before using a dependency
- Keep track of security updates for dependencies
- Test your components and dependencies
- Build in-house tools instead of unsupported (expired) libraries
- Use security tools to check for security vulnerabilities- Node Security Project (NSP), RetireJS, OSSIndex, Dependency-check, Commercial tools such as Hakiri, Snyk, WhiteSource, SRC:CLR
In a nutshell
Open source components tend out to be safe when a large number of people are seen reviewing the code. But that doesn’t mean it will guarantee that all the security issues have been found and fixed. And maybe that’s the reason why one needs to integrate industry standard security policies into your application. So what are you sitting tight for? Time to kick off vulnerabilities and protect your open source components.