In today’s digital world businesses are involved in the continuous search for solutions that’ll help them operate more efficiently and have bigger profits faster. As the digital world keeps having breakthroughs, more organizations and development teams are adopting a method of constant software development and deployment of applications.
However, open-source can be considered advantageous in terms of cost-effectiveness and flexibility. This raises some unique security challenges. Because of the increased use of open source components, the challenge that companies face is ensuring that their software is secure. In this article you’ll find out how open-source security scanning can reduce your risks.
What’s Open-Source Software?
The term “open source software” refers to the fact that the design is publicly accessible. The term started out in software development to identify a specific approach to creating computer programs. Open source can also be considered as any software that has an accessible source code that anyone can share freely.
Why Use Open-Source Software?
In today’s fast-paced business world, to keep up with business demand, software teams have adopted active development practices. Open-source software is simply the kind of software that can be inspected and enhanced by anyone.
“Source code” is the part of software applications that most people don’t pay attention to. Yet, source codes are easy to manipulate to change how an application works. Developers benefit by starting with open source software and then tweak it to suit their necessities. Because the code is open, they can simply modify it and then add the functionality they require.
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The Difference Between Open-Source Software and Other Types of Software
Some software’s source code is created in a way that only the person who created it will maintain exclusive control over it. People have identified this software as “closed source software.” Only the authors of this type of software legally have the right to inspect and alter that software. This means any computer user that wants to run this software has to buy a license.
However, open-source software is different. The authors of open-source software make the source code available to others who would like to view, learn from, alter, or share it.
Apart from the access that has been given to programmers that would like to use the open-source code, no license fee is charged for it. They encourage programmers to modify open-source software as long as those programmers do the same when their work is shared. Also, not all open-source software can be free.
Top Five Examples of Open-Source Software
This software improves the business and makes it possible to stay organized and boost the productivity of your company. Here are the top five examples of open-source software:
- Mozilla Firefox
Mozilla Firefox has been identified as the customizable Internet browser and free open-source software. This platform holds 4.39 percent of the worldwide browser market share, and it’s available for Android, iOS, and Windows. Mozilla Firefox has done a tremendous job in changing the functions of operating systems.
LibreOffice is a complete office suite that offers presentations, spreadsheets, documents, and databases. Unlike Microsoft Office that’s not accessible for everyone due to its pricing model, LibreOffice is totally free. It’s available for Mac, Linux and Windows.
- Gnu Image Manipulation Program(GIMP)
As a photo editing tool, GIMP is another open-source software that is worth mentioning. Although this software is free, it offers similar features like some of the expensive tools on the market, including various filters and effects.
Python is a programming and scripting language used by custom software developers. According to IEEE, Python was the most popular language in 2019. In recent times it has attracted plenty of users due to its fast-growing field of machine learning. It’s also easy to use.
Blender is another example of open-source software. Blender is a 3D graphics and animation tool that supports motion tracking, video editing, modeling, and much more. It also offers a set of features that includes real-time viewpoint pre-review and support for Tripod solvers.
Advantages of Open-Source Software
Today, open-source software has become critical for most organizations. Almost all activities going on in organizations require open-source software. Below are a few advantages of open source systems:
- Lower hardware cost
Open-source resources are easy to compress and take less hardware power to carry out tasks. You can use cheaper or old hardware and still get the desired results.
- Integrated management
Through the use of open-source software, you can benefit from integrated management. Open-source software uses high-end technologies such as the Common Information Model (CIM) and Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM). CIM and WBEM enable you to integrate server and workstation management that results in a more effective administration.
- Abundant support
There’s a guarantee that there will be ample support when you use open-source software. Most organizations who create open-source software also provide maintenance and support.
- Simple license management
Your organization doesn’t need to worry about licenses when you use open-source software. You’re able to install open-source software several times and also use it at different locations. There’s freedom from monitoring or counting license compliance.
Four Open-Source Security Risks And Vulnerabilities To Be Aware Of
Organizations may find open-source codes a bit difficult to deal with. Working in this unstructured environment may be difficult for organizations to handle and, in most cases, hackers exploit this lack of centralized management. However, there are four major open source security risk and vulnerabilities to be aware of:
Public nature of exploits
Since open-source project code is available to people, when a potential exploit comes up, the information on its vulnerability will be announced publicly. Hackers can access the information and go after organizations that are slow to patch an application reliant on open-source projects with vulnerabilities.
Any enterprise using open-source components is faced with the risk of operational insufficiency. From an operational standpoint companies are open to vulnerabilities when they fail to track and update open source components, thereby making them unable to keep up with new versions.
Potential infringement risks
Open source components can create intellectual property infringement risks, due to the fact that these projects don’t have standard commercial controls. Vulnerabilities may, therefore, be able to make their way into open-source software.
Malpractice of developers
A developer’s malpractice could include copy and paste of codes from open source libraries. Copy and paste could be risky because a vulnerability tends to get copied and pasted. Moreover, it would be difficult to track a code piece once a developer adds it to the code-base of your organization.
How to Identify Open-Source Vulnerabilities in Your Software
Many times, developers will take open source code from a repository on-site and fail to see if the components have any known vulnerabilities. Organizations need to secure both the code they write and the code from open source components. Let’s take a look at a few ways to identify open-source vulnerabilities in your software:
- Some open-source components are vulnerable from the start, while others go bad over time.
- Transitive dependencies: when using dependency management tools like Java or Bundler, you are unknowingly pulling in third-party dependencies that turn out to be an unaffordable liability.
- Due to the increase in downloads, it becomes difficult to manage libraries and direct dependencies.
What’s Open-Source Security Scanning?
As open-source software becomes more common in web application development, cyber-attackers find it a more appealing target. When an attacker is able to exploit one open-source component, multiple applications become vulnerable.
So, there’s a need to adequately secure your organization’s open-source components. Open-source security scanning is the measure put in place to guarantee the freedom from risk inherent to an open-source software system. This is done by examining components, matching accurate scans against proprietary intelligence and providing developers this intelligence directly inside their favorite tools.
The growing industry common understanding is that top-notch security must begin from the ground up at the source code. This is why open source scanning tools are rapidly gaining traction, with 93 percent of businesses using it, and roughly 78 percent performing all or part of their business on open source platforms.
Benefits of Open-Source Security Scanning
Open-source security scanning can have a major impact on your entire organization. Take a look at the benefits of open source security scanning for your developers and those using your platform:
- Security issues are patched immediately
Security issues were one of the reasons enterprises balked at using open-source software. Now that open-source security scanning has been able to secure open-source software, enterprises will no longer need to worry about security issues, as security patches tend to occur faster.
- More flexibility for users
Open-source security scanning has provided flexibility for the users of open-source software, and this is very essential for your organization. Users of open-source software tend to have options, without being scared of vulnerabilities creeping into the company’s systems.
- Enhanced community
The process and tools for scanning your open-source software make you effectively interact with the open-source community. Your organization will be able to contribute features, report bugs, and share the benefits of the code base with other organizations.
Open-source software vulnerabilities are at an all-time high, with close to 20,000 vulnerabilities documented in 2017 alone. There’s a massive number of undocumented open-source software vulnerabilities. The question is, do you have the necessary automated processes in place to minimize your vulnerability risk?
With RSI Security you can scan your systems for vulnerabilities and prioritize your risks. Let RSI Security provide you with an end-to-end solution for your security terms to manage policies for your use of open-source software. Get in touch with an expert at RSI Security today to find out how you can secure your open source software so you can attain incredible growth in your organization.