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Virtually every application across all industries has open source components and libraries as its foundation. This makes it crucial for everyone involved in the process of developing applications – especially the manager of application or security – to have an understanding of the methods of identification, tracking, and management of open-source resources. Here are 5 steps that can be taken to mitigate risks associated with open-source
Ways of managing open-source risks
It’s recommended to take an inventory of all open-source components used by the development teams to build software. This can be done by maintaining a software bill of materials (sBOM). A sBOM is an inventory of all open-source and third-party components that make up a codebase.
2. Tracking of Dependencies
Open-source software is usually built on libraries that have dependencies. These top-level libraries call on directly dependent libraries which in turn, may be linked to other libraries. This creates a tree of dependencies that carries the inevitable risk of vulnerabilities. It is therefore important that developers embed controls into the build process to track the underlying dependencies and enforce predefined policies automatically.
3. Proper identification of Open-source risks
Developers have to ensure that they constantly monitor the build versions of the open-source components they use; to enable easy detection of security risks in the form of outdated components or unstable versions. Identification of risks can be done using various dynamic analysis techniques like fuzzing in blockchain .
4. Mapping of open-source software to known security vulnerabilities
Although the documentation of security vulnerabilities on vulnerability databases can be seen as a double-edged sword (due to the fact that it not only raises awareness for the decent members of the open-source community, but black-hat hackers are also made aware of flaws in open source systems), it is important that developers and security architects stay informed of any published vulnerabilities that may affect the open-source supply-chain. The National Vulnerability Database is a trusted source of publicly disclosed open-source vulnerabilities
5. Continuous monitoring
Even after an application has been built and deployed, monitoring for dependency risks never ends. Teams need to constantly keep track of vulnerabilities by monitoring for new threats as long as their software remains in service. Snyk’s automated tool for vulnerability testing is a useful tool for continuous monitoring
Our Take: Open source components and libraries are the foundation of almost every application in the Information Communication Technology sector. Hence, it is important for developers, especially the application or security manager, to identify the vulnerabilities associated with open sources and learn techniques for identifying, tracking, and managing open-source resources appropriately.
About the Author(s): Irhose Apori– Brand & Marketing Communications Strategist, Content Marketer, Technical writer, and Front-end Web Developer