Top open source software risks of 2023

Vikrant Shetty

August 29, 2023

8:49 am

There are a great many companies in existence today that rely on data and codes available on open-source supply chains. About 80% of the principles in the new and upcoming applications are taken from open-source repositories. Thus, the use of open-source software comes with its own set of risks. These include vulnerabilities in security, licensing risks, and compatibility concerns. 

Endor Labs is a software firm that acts as the regulatory body administering the security and upkeep of open-source software. In its report, it has specified ten significant risks that are expected to become more pronounced in 2023. As more businesses increasingly adopt open-source software, the risk of a security breach is becoming more extensive. As such, organizations need to be aware of these risks and take steps to mitigate them. In this blog post, we will examine the top ten open-source software risks highlighted by Endor Labs that businesses should be aware of in 2023. 

1. Known Vulnerabilities

The primary concern for developers using open-source software is security vulnerabilities. A developer may accidentally input a vulnerable code that fraudsters can exploit to compromise your business’s confidentiality. For example, in 2014, the OpenSSL Heartbleed vulnerability code was detected to have exposed sensitive information from millions of websites. In 2023, the vulnerabilities are set to become even more challenging with the introduction of more complex cyber-attacking software. 

2. Licensing issues

A source code component may not have a license; if it does, it might not match your use case. As such, open-source software typically comes with various licensing options. The complexity attached to understanding the use of these licenses can pose a significant risk to businesses. Businesses using open-source software without fully understanding the licensing requirements can incur substantial legal and financial ramifications.

3. Immature software 

Often an open-source code may have been developed without the best practices like using a scheme for a standard version. These may not have gone through a regression test suite and review guidelines. Hence, most of the components will not work safely and reliably. 

4. Outdated software 

Although newer software versions may be available, developers might still have used an old and outdated version. But it can cause severe problems like missing security patches and updates. It can lead to more pests, like software bugs, making your software vulnerable. 

5. Untracked dependencies

Software developers may remain unaware of the dependency on a component for reasons such as: 

  • Being a part of a whole other upstream module.
  • The developers have not run the project on the Software composition analysis tool to detect the anomaly. 
  • A package manager was not utilized to detect the dependency. 

6. Compromise of Legitimate Package

Cyber attackers may inject malicious code anywhere in the software components, introducing vulnerabilities in the whole infrastructure. The malicious code may be designed to spread like a virus throughout the system, compromising the project’s legitimacy and remaining undetected. 

7. Name confusion attacks

Endor Labs has warned developers that attackers may create components that resemble legitimate open-source components in name very closely. Developers must pay special attention to the terms of the details before injecting them. Attackers may use: 

  • Typo-squatting: The name is a close misspelling of the actual component’s name.
  • Brand-jacking: The attacker may hoodwink the developer by suggesting an author.
  • Combo-squatting: A hacker uses a combination of a brand name and an action to deceive developers.

8. Unapproved changes

It isn’t easy to identify and maintain the integrity of each component downloaded from open-source software packages. Since it is hosted on an open-source server, it can be changed and tampered with freely. Using such a component will introduce significant security risks in your project. 

9. Under/over-sized dependency

Using a component with unknown or unverifiable source code, build version, and supply chain can cause continued issues in the future. It might also cause bloating of the application by the introduction of too many useless dependencies. 

10. Unmaintained software

It is a severe risk that may cause operational issues in the future. Further, it may face serious bug issues if the component or any part of it is no longer needed. Also, it might make the software vulnerable to attackers who can exploit its lack of security patches. 

Conclusion

Developers must be aware of these ten threats before they use any component available in the open-source software packages. Open-source software offers many benefits, including cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and community support. However, weigh these potential risks before making a case to favor open-source software. 

Vikrant Shetty

August 29, 2023

8:49 am

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