Top 5 Open Source Security Risks You Should Know About

#1. Publicity of Exploits

Open-source projects are available to anybody. This has the advantage that the open-source community can flag potential exploits they find in the code and give open source project managers time to fix the issues before publicly revealing information on vulnerabilities. Such exploits are made publicly available on the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) for anyone to view.

Attackers can use the publicity of these exploits for their malicious purposes by targeting organizations that are slow to patch the applications that use open source projects with recent vulnerabilities. To minimize this risk, you should update your open source components as quickly as possible.

#2. Difficulty Managing Licenses

Single proprietary applications are often composed of multiple open-source components. This leads to difficulty in managing open-source licenses, considering the frequency with which enterprises develop and release software and the fact that over 200 open-source license types exist.

Organizations are required to comply with all individual terms of different licenses, and non-compliance with the terms of a license puts you at risk of legal action, potentially damaging the financial security of your company.

#3. Potential Infringement Issues

Open-source components may introduce intellectual property infringement risks because these projects lack standard commercial controls, giving a means for proprietary code to make its way into open-source projects. Appropriate due diligence into open-source projects can flag up potential infringement risks.

#4. Operational Risks

One of the main sources of risks when using open-source components comes from operational inefficiencies. A primary concern is the failure to track open source components and update those components as new versions become available. These updates often address high-risk security vulnerabilities.

#5. Developer Malpractices

Some security risks arise due to developer malpractices, such as copying and pasting code from open source libraries. Copying and pasting is an issue because you copy any vulnerabilities that may exist in the project’s code when you do it.

Another issue is that there is no way to track and update a code snippet once it’s added to your codebase. This can make your applications susceptible to potential future vulnerabilities that arise. You can avoid this issue by creating an open-source policy that specifically forbids copying and pasting snippets directly from projects to your application codebases.

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