How to Protect Your Company from Cyberattacks If You Work With Open Source

Open source software offers significant benefits to companies since it’s an innovative, tech-oriented solution to collaborative, community-style, cost-effective software development. But therein lies its vulnerability. With millions of software developers utilizing open-source software, a growing pool of cyber security risks is developing. 

Before we delve into the details, it’s important to identify and explain the reasons for the tremendous expansion of open-source adoption. Since it’s freely available to the public at large, open-source software enjoys widespread adoption. Apache, WordPress, Linux, and MySQL are examples of open-source software.

How to Protect Your Company from Cyberattacks If You Work With Open Source 1

Businesses look for cost-effective solutions that dovetail with their pre-stated objectives of organizational effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity.  Open-source software fulfills these requirements in many ways. It confers free access, dramatic cost savings, outstanding flexibility, public collaboration, and rapid innovation. Viewed in perspective, open-source software presents as the elixir to many business-related challenges. 

But we know that cybercriminals are constantly scouring the World Wide Web in search of entry points to infiltrate applications, programs, systems, networks, databases, etc. According to WPGC.IO, as much as 65%—80% of the application stack is made up of open-source software. But the inherent risks are terrifying.

Fortunately, many of the errors we will discuss in this text can be overcome, avoided, or negated by applying common sense techniques. Since open-source software inherently benefits companies, there is a massive demand for it. However, safety is the primary concern. To this end, software composition analysis (SCA) weeds out problematic software in source code and ensures full compliance with strict security protocols.

In simple terms, SCA is a high-tech innovation that is capable of identifying vulnerabilities and managing them within open-source libraries and their components. It’s an ingenious solution to a complex problem that has infinitely deep roots in the open-source network. 

With SCA, risks can be detected early on in the development process, allowing for timely remediation of errors. Given the ubiquity of open-source components, full integration of SCA tools can help to identify weaknesses, and correct them accordingly. It’s a proactive approach adopted by business IT departments, security consultants, and high-level management.

Today, we’re going to run you through several high-risk elements pertaining to open-source security challenges.

  • Insufficient Vetting of Open Source Components

This occurs when open-source software is not thoroughly checked and vulnerabilities resolved. There are many ways to vet quality, such as maintenance history, overall security, community health, and code quality. If open source software is not maintained and patches are not implemented, and software code is left to ‘rot,’ it becomes known as abandonware, and that is laced with weaknesses.

  • Third-Party Dependencies

Within the framework of open source software, there are often third-party dependencies. These are buried deep within these stack, and if any of them are vulnerable then the entire system is susceptible to malicious infiltration.  The problem doesn’t end there – it persists well beyond and into the entire software architecture of the business. This is the real risk of unfettered third-party dependencies.

  • Integration Issues

Companies routinely encounter problems when they haphazardly mix open-source and proprietary code. These types of problems can be avoided by taking a step back and assessing the integration issues that may arise. Rigorous integration testing is necessary. All dependencies should be centrally managed, and open-source code should be carefully integrated into the existing code for maximum utility, compliance, and adoption.

  • Outdated Software

In software as in life, outdated material becomes threadbare, susceptible, redundant and undesirable. Such is the nature of the beast. Outdated libraries are old and contain unsupported code. This means that they cannot be integrated into updated material. There are many known and unknown vulnerabilities pertaining to outdated software. It simply not worth the risk and that’s why application security is sacrosanct when it comes to open source code.

  • Licence and Compliance Issues

It goes without saying that outdated software, unlicensed software, and software that is not compliant poses tremendous challenges, and risks to users. If for example, the licensing terms expressly forbid modification of the software, redistribution of the software, or attribution of the software, challenges can arise. There are intellectual property rights to consider with all software, and this raises the risks of legal action. It’s important to understand the intricacies of software licensing and compliance before working with open source code

  • Bad Actors

The existence of bad actors in the open-source software arena is rare, but it happens. Known as malicious contributors, these cybercriminals routinely inject bad code into open source networks. Their raison d’être is simply to contribute malicious material through the series of ones and zeros in the software. This tainted code can be obviated by applying the highest standards of code vetting, compliance, and integrity checking possible.

By implementing SCA in the development life-cycle of a company’s integrated networks, systems, and source code, businesses can ensure that software remains secure and compliant. This guards against potential cyberattacks that are linked to open source components.

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