Open source solutions have increased the risk of cyber-attacks, as evidenced by recent incidents like the Spring4Shell, Log4Shell, and SolarWinds attacks. Businesses must have robust safety measures in place to stay secure when creating and utilizing open-source software.
More than a year has passed since the SolarWinds attack sent shockwaves through many businesses worldwide. More recently, the industry experienced an aftershock when hackers exploited the vulnerability in Log4Shell, giving attackers access to entire networks through vulnerable devices or software.
What distinguishes these attacks is their scope. Supply chain attacks have occurred earlier, but 2021 was the first time an attack strategy was used to compromise so many users successfully. The risk has increased with the use of open-source solutions, just like in the Log4j and Spring4Shell attacks. Every software development team uses some form of open-source software, and these components are often created quickly, resulting in security flaws.
Due to the widespread sharing of open-source components, the impact of a successful attack would be much greater than if the attack were to target a single company’s network.
Here are some key strategies that can help businesses in staying secure when creating and implementing open-source software:
Similar to anything that depends on a chain, it is crucial to identify the weak links while creating and managing a software supply chain. Visibility into every link is necessary to accomplish this.
Businesses must adopt the same strategy when attempting to secure their software supply chains, ensuring that each link is precisely identified to assess the risks associated with it accurately. More serious flaws in the software will inevitably be found, especially in the widely used and adopted open-source libraries and frameworks that are getting increasingly popular worldwide.
Businesses require a thorough inventory and understanding of all the open-source components in use to ensure security. If instances like Spring4Shell, Log4Shell, and SolarWinds have taught anything, it’s that a company needs to be more aware of all the various tools it uses. This covers where and how they were created and used across the entire organization so that when flaws are found, the issue can be fixed immediately and reduce the damage.
Create an Enhanced Open Source Ecosystem
Open-source software built for oneself and shared with the community must be made shockproof. The software must be fit for the task when creating libraries or frameworks. Additionally, adopting a security-conscious mindset is critical to avoid unintentionally introducing vulnerabilities.
In general, it is preferable to focus on executing a small number of things exceptionally well while developing open-source components. Because of its complexity, complicated open-source software will always have a higher risk of vulnerability. A critical vulnerability is more likely to exist the more features there are.
This adage holds true while creating proprietary software as well. It is important to consider whether each function is necessary when service and product development teams choose which new features to include and only turn on those absolutely necessary. It is crucial for businesses to innovate quickly, but they must also take the time to carefully consider which features they truly require and why. Anything above what is necessary could simply provide openings for vulnerabilities.
Consider Security When Developing Software
Humans create code, and it can be fallible. Software vulnerabilities are, therefore, inevitable. However, there is more that the industry can do to protect itself from the tremors. The breaches brought on by the Spring4Shell and Log4Shell flaws strongly underscore the necessity for businesses to take preventative measures to secure their software development. However, doing so demands more focus from groups in the public and private sectors. Each stakeholder needs to improve how they incorporate security into their software development processes.
The good news is that improvements to software security and the security of the open source ecosystem are being made thanks to the efforts of numerous organizations. The future of software development lies in this change. And the faster the industry can make this shift, the faster it will reap the benefits.
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