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Open Source Security Risks to Know in 2019


Written by Limor Wainstein

For the past decade, the use of open source components in development has been rising in popularity. While open source makes for cost-effective software material, many of these free components carry with them an increasing amount of vulnerabilities, unpredictable operational overhead, and compliance and regulatory difficulties.

According to the 2018 Open Source Security and Risk Analysis (OSSRA) Synopsys report, 74 percent of all audited codebases contained open source components with license conflicts, and 77 percent out of 1,100 audited IoT codebases revealed open source components with approximately 677 vulnerabilities per application.

As the world shifts to higher levels of connectivity, failure to meet basic security standards and compliance regulations can result in dire consequences. From fines for failing to comply with the new GDPR rules to loss of revenue as hackers use open source components as backdoors for initiating ransom attacks, and even botched elections caused by compromised voting machines.

Meet GDPR Open Source Standards With Agile Solutions

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) protects the data and privacy of individuals. Article 25(1) holds software controllers accountable for implementing security measures to ensure personal data isn't used without user consent. In the case of a data breach, the company can be held liable for not enforcing proper security controls and management.

Agile open source management tools enable efficient and real-time security by integrating into the development lifecycle. Agile management can help you monitor open source components, provide real-time inventory reports and licenses analysis, and send vulnerability alerts. With automated open source management tools, you can protect sensitive data.

Protect IoT with Identity and Access Management (IAM) Solutions

As cities around the world become "smarter", many connected systems are introduced into public infrastructure. From traffic system management that control traffic, connected cars that communicate with each other, and semi-autonomous delivery trucks-IoT technologies that penetrate the physical world form sever security risks that can lead to mortal fatalities.

Connected technologies provide hackers with ample pathways and backdoors they can use to gain access into the system. IoT codebases can inherit vulnerabilities from open source components, especially if the open source code wasn't scanned before introduction into the code. By implementing an IAM solution you can manage authorization access and prevent cybercriminals from gaining unauthorized access to your system.

Protect Your Containers with Docker Security

Containers have become the new shining star of the DevOps world, attracting agile developers and cybercriminals alike. However, while containers enable efficient development, one compromised container can infect the entire network. Containers that inherit open source vulnerabilities can cause access authorization breaches, and once attackers gain access to one network they can get root privileges.

Docker security tools can help you scan open source container images before deployment to prevent weak authentication. You can combine authorized access management solutions like Active Directory with container monitoring management tools to provide multiple layers of security throughout the network.

Mitigate Supply Chain Attacks With Software Composition Analysis (SCA)

Supply chain attacks use third-party providers or outside partners to gain access to your data and systems. Since most companies rely on third-party software providers for most of their IT infrastructure, and many providers have open source components, the risk of supply chain attacks through third-party open source components has seen a steep increase.

SCA tools can identify open source components in the source code, match them with community databases and look for vulnerabilities in the source code. The insights gathered by the SCA tools can help ensure the company software is safe from open source vulnerabilities, and take action to fix issues if they arise.

Fight Attacks by Prioritizing Vulnerabilities

Time is a priceless resource. Unfortunately, survey results show that developers lose almost fifteen hours per month due to inefficient management of open source vulnerabilities. Lack of available information on open source vulnerabilities remediation may lead developers to focus on the wrong vulnerability and lose the "fight" to the hacker. Effective usage analysis tools can help you find out if you're focusing your time on the right vulnerabilities and re-prioritize according to accurate open source inventory.

Beware of the Free Trap - Plan for Operational Expenditures

While open source tools may seem like the most cost-effective route to upgrade company software resources, lack of planning may lead to costly overhead. The open source components may be free, but integration into an existing infrastructure has its own costs. If you want to upgrade, make sure you don't write the entire operation as free. Take into account everything that goes into implementing an open source tool and plan for operational expenditures.

Open Source Communities Chart the Way to Better Security

While tools and solutions offer invaluable support, it's the open source community that supports security advancement. The Heartbleed fiasco has changed the way open source communities operate. The amount of time it took to discover the Heartbleed vulnerability showed that lack of disclosure standards and low budgets can have a global impact.

Since almost everyone uses open source components directly or through third-party providers, companies such as Google and Microsoft contribute the funds needed to support the community. The community has grown bigger now that open source contributors no longer stand alone, and the strength in numbers and resources may lead to better open source security.


About the Author

Limor Wainstein 

Limor is a technical writer and editor at Agile SEO, a boutique digital marketing agency focused on technology and SaaS markets. She has over 10 years' experience writing technical articles and documentation for various audiences, including technical on-site content, software documentation, and dev guides. She specializes in big data analytics, computer/network security, middleware, software development and APIs.
Published Thursday, February 28, 2019 8:28 AM by David Marshall
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