OSS Security - Open Source Software Security

The rapid evolution of open source software has carved out new markets, brought huge opportunities for emergent, and established IT service organizations alike. However, unfortunately, the past decade has also witnessed significant disruption to security vulnerabilities across open sources software workflows and systems. The widespread support with anonymous developers and instantaneous nature of OSS has inevitably led to the development of malicious threats targeting firms embracing open source technologies.

With the evolving business needs, organizations are taking up the open source technologies and have been integrating them into their applications. This open source software brings with them a number of security risks. There have been scenarios wherein dated open source systems had numerous known vulnerabilities existing, which got exploited ending up with direct database access exposing all the sensitive information. Such attacks could be carried out via phishing emails, spams and targeted attacks on the web application exploring general application vulnerabilities pertaining to open source software’s.

If we see holistically most of the underlying challenges pertaining to open source software's is primarily due to the way they operate. As per SANS, following are the key challenges, which is faced by enterprises using Open Source Software’s:

  • An absence of meticulous evaluation - Any open source software may not go through a meticulous evaluation, like for any commercial product. This poses a massive business and security risk to the organization, which may lead to potential, loss of credibility amongst its customers and eventually losing the business as well.
  • Spurious open source - As the open source makes the source code available to the public, potential cyber criminals could easily design and distribute some malware by embedding malicious code into the original open source distribution. If an organization does not have a clear security policy on the usage of open source, its administrators (if they are not security conscious) may happen to download and install some spurious open source from some unreliable sources>
  • Reliability with OSS Often without strong central management, the open source software community must identify and provide solutions for errors with the software. This may lead to security concerns that the software problems will not be fixed, as compared to traditional software, which has centralized management and a dedicated team of developers to fix any issues.

How can WSA help?

As cyber threats escalate, the technology architecture, security processes and cultural strategy must evolve to keep pace. We at WSA believe in the principle of evaluating defense in depth security controls and have experience assessing modern open source applications / technology with dynamic APIs and Single Page Applications (SPAs) providing wide coverage, going beyond traditional automated security scanners focusing on little JavaScript and application design constructs.

Our experience with securing Open Source Software’s can help organizations to identify the right defense mechanisms and sustain a comprehensive testing of the open source software implementation and deployment, understanding the behavioral changes as per the organization. It is necessary to switch the assessment approach for open source software so to strengthen the organizations cyber security posture. For open source software, we emphasize on:

  • Architecture and design review - We lay emphasis on the security review of the Open source software’s and associated technical security architecture emphasizing on identifying and mitigating potential security weakness in the design.
  • Security Compliance and Audit – WSA's security controls based maturity model is used in conjunction with a customized capability matrix for clients (designed and contained as per the individual applications), to define the current state of the client security program and supporting governance capabilities
  • Vulnerability Management and Penetration Testing – We have extensive vulnerability management skills and deep experience in conducting detailed penetration testing activities for enterprise level – open source software. Our assessment approach and outcome provides more coverage to the associated open source software – web services, mobile, and rich internet applications (RIAs) than any other dynamic analysis tool available
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