Open source can be found in many of today’s infrastructures. But, to ensure secure open-source code, businesses need to understand the security risks associated with open-source software. They must ensure that each of their open source components are both secure and add value to the project.
Open source software is hugely popular and makes up a huge chunk of business applications. One of the biggest reasons why businesses and developers work with open source software is that they have a community to support in developing base capabilities, thereby saving time and resources.
Even though open source software has multiple advantages, it has vulnerabilities that might affect an organization and its data. As per 2020 Synopsys report, 99% of commercial databases consists of at least one open source component, and around 75% of these codebases have open source security vulnerabilities.
Top three open source security risk
Open source Software Security Risks
One of the biggest hurdle businesses face while dealing with open source vulnerabilities is that tracking them and their fixes is extremely difficult. Open source vulnerabilities and data on how to carry out these exploit are often publicly available across a wide variety of platforms. It can be challenging to track them, locate the updated version, and patching the security risk is an expensive and time-consuming process.
Once open source vulnerability and its path of exploitation is identified, threat actors can gather all the required information to hack into an organization and for carry out an attack. And with the widespread use of open source software, this can cause havoc. Therefore, it is crucial that organizations combine necessary processes and tools to swiftly address open source vulnerabilities.
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Exploits are Public
Open source security vulnerabilities are usually publicly available on platforms that can be accessed by anyone. A famous example of that is the major Equifax breach that took place in 2017 where personal data of 143 million people was leaked. This attack took place because the company was using open source software that had high-risk vulnerabilities, and threat actors leveraged it to their advantage.
These kinds of attacks on open source software can cause data loss or data leak and also hurt a company’s market valuation, reputation, and customer relationships. This can also affect the customer retention rate, churn rate, revenue and sales
Licensing Compliance Issues
Open-source software has a license that lets the source code to be shared, modified, or used under certain guidelines. But, the issue with these licenses is that most of them don’t comply with the strict SPDX and OSI definitions of open source.
Additionally, single proprietary applications have multiple open source components, and these projects are released under several license types, like Apache License, GPL, or MIT License. Businesses need to comply with every open source license, and this can be quite overwhelming.
Addressing Open Source Security Risks
Open source software has security risks like any other software. Hence, it is important that each component businesses decide to work with is secure.
Furthermore, open source projects mostly focus on providing new updates with new features for users. Because of budget and time restrictions, organizations do not pay enough attention to security and are likely to release the update as fast as possible. Organizations must maintain the balance between new releases and ensure that the design, code and implementation is secure.
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One of the crucial things that organizations can do is to do an inventory of all the open source software they use and track the vulnerabilities associated with them. Having said that, tracking and addressing vulnerabilities is a very big challenge. Businesses should figure out a way to spot all security vulnerabilities in their environments and update that list regularly. They should also push their developers away from outdated, insecure software elements, and release patches whenever security flaws are discovered.
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