IoT News | The security risks of open source software


The expression “no one is an island” means that no person is completely self-sufficient; we all rely on others to some extent to survive and prosper. The same is true for software. While it’s technically possible for every piece of software to be built entirely from scratch, that’s just not practical in most cases.

Instead, developers frequently use “modules” or “packages” of code, frequently found in open source repositories such as Github, that they can use to rebuild their software. Think of them as the pre-made window frames, doors, and bricks that a builder could use to build a new home.

There are several reasons why developers can rely on open source code in this way. One of the biggest is the speed with which developers often have to work. A developer likely has a set budget and deadline they are working on, which makes it difficult to spend time creating every component of the software they are working on. Using open source code also allows them to create their programs using code that they may not have the expertise to create. Going back to the house building analogy, a person building a house may not have the expertise to create beautifully constructed doors. Additionally, the participatory nature of open source code, which has been contributed and reviewed by a large number of users, can help identify and fix bugs and potential vulnerabilities.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise to hear that open source ecosystems are booming, be it Java, JavScript, .NET or Python: contributing to hundreds of thousands of projects, building on millions downloadable packages available to developers. These numbers will only increase over time.

But while open source software doesn’t lack benefits for developers, it does pose potential risks for developers. This is where tools like WAF can help. What is the WAF? Short for web application firewall, it is one of the many cybersecurity tools available to help developers solve a growing problem. Think of it as a “must have”.

Attacks on open source projects

Open source, by its nature, attracts a large number of users from all over the world. Open source code is found in more than 30% of released applications, according to a report, and much more when you consider tools such as software for internal use. Unfortunately, it’s not just the right people who are drawn to open source.

The number of attacks against open source projects has increased dramatically. Analysis suggests that the number of attacks has increased by more than 650% over the past year.

For attackers, one of the reasons for trying to target open source projects is that it allows them to poison the well which is then used by a large number of applications. Rather than targeting proprietary or custom code, if an attacker can find a way to perform a malicious code injection or other attack targeting open source projects, then that corrupt code could be embedded in legitimate software.

Spend time patching vulnerabilities

While open source code is inherently open and inspectable, many developers may not spend the time necessary to complete this inspection process. Instead, they might assume that this bug detection was done by other users, choosing instead to spend that time developing new features or focusing on other projects.

Companies that do not exercise due diligence when it comes to using open source modules or packages in applications could introduce serious vulnerabilities, making possible everything from large-scale data exfiltration to data processing. ‘remote code execution. The damage could be major, whether it is non-compliance with data protection laws, operational risks, or damage to the reputation of companies using this open source code.

Protect yourself to the best of your ability

Protecting vulnerable open source code is essential. Fortunately, there are tools that can help. A WAF or WAAP (Web Application and API Solution) can help virtually patch open source vulnerabilities, preventing them from being exploited. These tools can help protect against security issues that can affect open source code. They can help quickly detect and block any attempt by hackers to exploit code vulnerabilities.

Adopting these tools is one of the smartest things organizations can take. This way, customers and users can continue to enjoy the many benefits offered by the open source software community, without having to worry about the potential risks.

While it is always crucial that developers properly inspect the code they are using, it is nonetheless a valuable protection against any potential vulnerabilities that slip through the cracks. Attacks against open source projects are not going away. But by using solutions like this, it is possible to mitigate the worst potential damage they can cause.


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