3 Tips for Managing Open Source Security Risks

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Using open-source code gained popularity because it’s cost-effective and easy to use. Organizations across industries and of different sizes use open-source code in building software. There’s a wide range of applications for this technology, and its value for enterprise applications is undeniable. There’s no wonder why newly trained developers are taught to be adept in using open-source code.

Open-source code and the challenge with security

A vast majority of commercial applications today use open-source code. This number alone shows how significantly widespread it is. Over the years, quality has also improved where most big projects actively participate in projects to scan the code for vulnerabilities. But despite these vulnerabilities, open-source code is still preferable. The main reason here is that replacing open-source components will require hiring more developers with more time required for completion.

A company that relies on closed and proprietary platforms may benefit from greater security. But, open-source code offers a wide range of technologies and languages that aren’t available in closed code. Open-source code allows developers to pull components from different sources, thus, allowing them to deploy the program within minutes.

Indeed, open source security is a prevalent issue. That’s why it takes a conscious effort on the part of the developing team to employ the necessary steps to detect vulnerabilities.

How to secure open-source software

Although the risks are there, enterprises that use open-source code shouldn’t live in fear. Organizations can continue to innovate, while at the same time address all security issues associated with open-source code. Here’s how.

  1. Make secure software development standard practice. Instead of entrusting the task of security to a particular team, the best way to approach secure software development is by adapting a development life cycle with security integral at every stage. This means that every developer or engineer is trained in security best practices. So, it doesn’t matter who detects a vulnerability in the code. It becomes imperative at any stage to fix the problem immediately before the code passes to the next development stage.
  2. Risk management requires time. One of the biggest risks to security is that many enterprises using open-source code fail to update the base. As such, there’s a possibility that these codes already have a new version. Actively updating the code means your security team is aware of known vulnerabilities and patches. As such, it takes time and effort to keep track of updates that every enterprise should invest in.
  3. Automate whenever possible. If the company has limited resources, another option would be to get a software vendor that offers automation or managed services. Some code providers also offer automated security checks for open-source code. Also, there are open-source communities that take the initiative in offering security updates without prior request.

In summary, open-source code security requires extensive transparency within the community of developers and users. Developers need to actively participate in identifying and fixing bugs within the code. When the organization is transparent about the vulnerabilities they experience, the entire community benefits.