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How to Manage Open Source Risk

Everything You Need To Know About Managing Open Source Risk

Over the years, Open Source growth has seen an exponential rise as many developers are consciously saving time and are making use of readily available open-source components, instead of writing code from scratch. Developers face tremendous pressure to push software sooner, speed up time-to-market, innovate and build awesome products with much shorter release cycles. As per a third party report, more than 80% of the code in today’s applications is open source. By using open source components, packages, and libraries in the code, developers can reap immense benefits. However, while using Open Source components and packages are perfectly justifiable, they also come with risks a.k.a. the open-source risks.

What developers, management, and even shareholders need to take into consideration while using the code in open source components is that these OS components may come with security vulnerabilities which hackers can take advantage of, leading to significant damage. That is why, risks in open-source frameworks, libraries or even in the code need to be identified and carefully managed.

Most development teams believe in the notion that open source code is clean and safe as it is developed and used by a large number of people who would have identified issues in the software. But in reality, apps that are built on open-source software do come with vulnerabilities some of which might be critical and can lead to data breaches, attacks, and compliance lawsuits. Not all vulnerabilities are the same, some may be critical, while others with a lesser impact on the organization. And since nobody is in charge of ensuring that vulnerabilities in open source code are published or patched, the open-source risk continues to be a serious problem for many development teams worldwide.

What causes Open Source Risk?

There are two main causes of risk in open source namely:

Security Vulnerabilities:

These may include known security vulnerabilities; vulnerabilities inherited from other libraries; vulnerabilities that had been fixed but reappear because of a version update; and zero-days and half-days vulnerabilities which we read about today for which very less information is known, making it possible for hackers and criminals to exploit them more easily.

License Compliance Risks

 With more than 1000+ open source licenses available, it becomes difficult and challenging for developers to keep track of each and every license and comply with all the legal requirements. Not complying with the terms of open source licensing is extremely tricky business. It leaves an organization open to lawsuits or situations where you might need to give up the exclusive ownership of the proprietary code. 

Asking the right questions before using the open-source code is absolutely necessary. Organizations along with their developers need to assess and ask themselves the following before even starting to use open-source code.

  • What Open Source components am I using?
  • What applications would use these open source components?
  • How would these applications be deployed?
  • Whether the license associated with the open-source component is high, medium or low risk?
  • Whether the Open Source license is commercial friendly?
  • Assessment of Open Source license requirements associated with the open-source component and effective fulfillment of these requirements.
  • Potential conflicts between the open-source component license and the end license of the product or application in which it is used.
  • Evaluating potential legal issues that may arise as a result of the use of these Open Source components.

Once you have clear cut answers to the above questions, the decision to use or reject the OS packages and components becomes much simpler.

How to manage and mitigate Open Source Risks?

To safeguard your organization from these security vulnerabilities, malware and ransomware you need to –

  1. Create and enforce open source policies:

Organizations must create a standardized open-source policy that outlines the use of how developers access and use open source components and packages, remediation plans, whitelisting/blacklisting code, processes, and workflows to follow, etc.

We at Lyra have helped numerous enterprises in creating open-source policies and also help standardize processes for organizations to enforce them.

  • Have an OSS Strategy and a framework in place:

An organization needs to have an OSS strategy and framework in place to effectively manage open source components and packages. Unless you have a plan of action on how to proceed further, it can lead to problems and failures at the same time damage your reputation in the long run. Organizations need to be proactive and identify risks and then have a framework in place to remediate those vulnerabilities soon.

  • Identify the amount of open source required and the vulnerabilities:

First, identify the number of open-source components being used by creating a bill of materials or a software inventory and where the vulnerabilities are present. Organizations can make use of specialized static analysis and scanning tools to scan code, list out the open-source code used within an application. Once this is available, you can then pass on to security teams to identify and scan those parts which might contain security vulnerabilities.

  • Update vulnerable Open Source Components:

Development and Security teams need to work together since updates to open source components can sometimes break your application. Teams need to keep testing open-source code in the early stages of the development cycle so as to not find vulnerabilities when the code is already in production. Only update those components which are deemed vulnerable by the security teams.

  • Updating OS versions to recent and secure releases promptly:

Your teams need to update open source versions to the latest stable and secure version to be protected from security vulnerabilities. Teams should also have a dedicated expert on the dev teams who will consistently monitor and keep checking the status of open source packages and updates and ensure that these updates are implemented promptly thereby building accountability.

  • Stopping Malware and Ransomware:

Enforcing warnings and alerting developers when they access vulnerable sources of component sites is the most recommended way to stay safe from these attacks. You can create and automate business rules in continuous integration systems where a build will fail if any vulnerable code with severe criticality and high open-source risk is being used within the application code.

Mitigate your Open Source Risk with Lyra

From full software packages to code snippets, our enterprise SCA solutions scan your source code, binaries, and dependencies for software vulnerabilities and license compliance issues. We integrate with common build tools and provide one of the largest open-source knowledge bases in the industry, with more than 14 million components and support for 25+ languages and 70+ extensions, giving you access to data of vulnerability from multiple sources, including NVD and Secunia Research. 

With our Enterprise Solutions you get an end-to-end integrated scanning tool to find security vulnerabilities for development, legal and security teams, set and manage policy for use of open source and third-party software, reduce open source security risk and manage license compliance with a complete end-to-end system. It’s easy to empower your organization to manage open-source software (OSS) and third-party components.

Lyra has over a decade of experience in code scanning and open source audits. We will help you get a sense of what amount of open source code is in your application, is the open-source code vulnerable, does it contain security vulnerabilities, issuing alerts for new vulnerabilities, remediation plans for securing vulnerable OSS components and at the same time help you stay compliant with respect to different open source licenses. Our audit teams also provide support for baseline audits and due diligence for events like mergers and acquisitions.

Contact us today to know how we can help remediate associated risk while you build your products during their entire lifecycle.

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