Open source software enables better security for organizations large and small. It is the foundation of today’s society and is found in a stack of modern applications, from the operating system to networking functions. It is estimated that around 90% of organizations use open source in some way, according to GitHub’s Octovere 2022 report.


Open source software can be scrutinized by everyone, attackers and defenders. But that doesn’t necessarily give attackers the upper hand. Rather, it offers defenders the ability to reduce the cost of defense, increase collaboration, and ensure that many “eyes” are working together to detect vulnerabilities. Security will always be a priority for businesses, and open source and its collaborative nature have the power to create new ways to protect against evolving security threats.

Prevention is better than cure

Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus once said that “prevention is better than cure”, and nowhere is this truer than in cybersecurity. Here the speed and agility of open source comes into play.

As more and more organizations use open source, there is a force multiplier effect at work. If several large cybersecurity teams crawl the code of commonly used open source software, it is more likely that problems can be anticipated and addressed. Instead of having a single team looking for bugs and exploits, open source opens up this process to the whole world. Open source code is publicly viewable, so anyone can find bugs that developers may not have noticed.

As an effective and widely adopted tool, open source threat intelligence helps enterprises identify all risks, vulnerabilities, and growing threats to protect the organization’s valuable data assets. For companies that choose open source, it becomes collaborative, with multiple organizations and individuals having a stake in ensuring security is kept tight and up-to-date.

Along with open source, companies should adopt other best practice measures for secure software, such as code reviews, vulnerability scanning, system visibility, and attack surface awareness – some ways code, packages, and systems can be assessed for security. Building on this, bug bounty programs have become a reality for big tech companies, offering individuals recognition and compensation for reporting security vulnerabilities and design flaws.

Strengthen security with third-party tools

Organizations are optimistic about the security of open-source software development, with an average of 77% believing the security of open-source development will improve by the end of 2023, according to a 2022 report from the Linux Foundation. . Many also believe that their security strategy will be enhanced by smarter security tools offered by vendors.

On average, organizations in the report used two to three security testing tools to identify vulnerabilities. Generally speaking, using more tools is beneficial, since they all add value in different ways. Third-party tools offer potential for scalability and automation – SCA (software composition analysis) tools proving the most useful, according to the report, allowing organizations to identify licensing issues and vulnerabilities across a portfolio of components and dependencies, in a highly automated way. way.

We’re also seeing more and more organizations using increased automation to reduce attack surfaces, alongside security audits. By automatically exploring open source dependencies in applications, companies receive valuable information and critical versions and trigger alerts to identify policy violations. Then they automatically monitor, alert and block attacks in production, targeting the vulnerability of any open source component allowing organizations to take quick action. Using such tools to find vulnerabilities works. Often when a vulnerable dependency is downloaded, a non-vulnerable version is available.

The development of open source security

This year has seen steps taken by governments and big tech companies to ensure the security of open source software, with the OpenSSF (Open Source Security Foundation) announcing initiatives to improve the security of open source software, including a $30 fund. million with a 10-point plan to strengthen the security of open source software.

This global focus on open source security will likely only increase in the coming year as organizations face continued geopolitical risks and attacks on supply chains. Developers will work to stop these attacks, along with increased collaboration between organizations to strengthen open source security.

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