The Road to DevSecOps: Addressing the Challenges of Open Source Software

The adoption of open source by software development teams has dramatically changed the software industry overall. Instead of building all software “from scratch”, organizations use open-source components to their advantage, providing common or repetitive features and functionalities. This primarily limits the use of custom code to proprietary features and functionality, while also being the shoestring that ties everything together. Subsequently, developers spend much of their time on key differentiators, rather than recreating common features.

Although software is significantly changing our work, home, and personal lives, many don’t realize that today’s software is made up of numerous ingredients. Some of the software we use daily contains pieces of custom code that’s developed internally by an organization, while other pieces of code come from community-driven open source projects that end up being baked-in to the final applications we utilize. Therefore, a combination of custom and open source code is employed by organizations who deliver the software products and services we often take for granted

The practice of using open source components, libraries, and packages during software development does allow organizations to accelerate time to delivery, but it can also expose organizations to heightened levels of risk. For example, organizations that use open source are exposed to new security risks that materialize as a result of attackers taking advantage of the broad usage and open nature of open source. In addition, organizations are exposed to license risk, since open source components are governed by licenses (e.g., GPL, Apache) that set terms for the use of the components. And finally, organizations are exposed to operational risk (e.g., technical debt), because the open source support model depends on a community of contributors. Unfortunately, a community can abandon a particular component, version, or fork, and then the organizations using it in their software are left to patch it or evolve it. That’s the technical debt, effectively.

Today’s modern applications are made up of a significant percentage of open source and over 30M developers contribute to community-based platforms like GitHub, accelerating open source software’s acceptance and usage. In fact, analysts report that 95% of organizations consume open source software within their own mission-critical IT portfolios. As a result, organizations must recognize, accept, and oversee how and where open source is used in the products and services they deliver to the industry as a whole.

Although organizations acknowledge a heightened level of risk, unfortunately, most don’t effectively track or manage open source throughout their entire codebase and cannot easily address the widening hazards they face. Today’s organizations often lack automated, repeatable processes for open source usage, risk management, and remediation. For example, organizations may have no process in place for:

By using open source, organizations and development teams are trusting the open source community to update and maintain the components, release patches, and monitor for security issues. Diminishing community contributions, outdated component versions, and other similar factors increase exposure to operational risks and can increase the cost of support for a software component in use within an organization’s codebase. This can increase the potential that an organization’s developers need to spend time and resources performing new development to ensure the security and functionality of a component.

Checkmarx Software Composition Analysis (CxSCA) is the perfect solution for organizations who desire to further embed security within their DevOps initiatives by detecting and identifying open source components within their codebase and providing detailed risk metrics regarding vulnerabilities, potential license conflicts, and outdated libraries. Integrated as part of a secure SDLC and CI/CD pipeline, CxSCA enables development and security teams to prioritize and focus remediation efforts where they will be most effective and least costly.

  • Open source selection and approval as it enters a codebase
  • Inventory and tracking of open source components in codebases
  • Identification and monitoring for vulnerabilities
  • Prioritization of security risks and automated workflows to accelerate remediation
  • Assessment of risk to intellectual property, and of potential litigation from license non-compliance
  • Creation and enforcement of policies, and integration of policies into developer workflows

Clearly, in today’s fast-paced development, delivery, and deployment models like DevOps, organizations need a software security solution that addresses open source challenges more than ever before. Checkmarx is committed to addressing this need head-on.

The Checkmarx approach to SCA is considered superior to other solutions in the market that rely on partnerships and complex integrations to do what Checkmarx does natively. Our cross-product synergies between CxSCA and CxSAST enable organizations to secure both custom code and open source while minimizing the burden of user administration and scan management via unified plugins. Checkmarx is also embracing the new role of developers as the first line of defense, while many other security approaches continue to focus on security teams as the gatekeepers of software security. This tactic allows Checkmarx customers to deploy software on aggressive DevOps release schedules, without sacrificing on security standards.

Leveraging Checkmarx’s industry-leading source analysis technologies, CxSCA is able to provide greater insight into open source security risks by verifying vulnerable conditions within the source code to determine whether vulnerabilities are actually exploitable and helping to prioritize risks for efficient and effective remediation. When used together, CxSAST and CxSCA allow organizations to secure both custom code and open source by focusing on generating results with the greatest accuracy and reducing the noise that distracts organizations from their true goal – developing secure, high-quality software with great efficiency.

To learn more about CxSCA, or how to enhance your AST portfolio with both CxSAST and CxSCA, please request a demo here.

Checkmarx’s mission is to deliver a complete suite of application security testing (AST) solutions to those responsible for securing software without impeding those responsible for developing and deploying it. We have the tools, techniques, solutions, and services to help organizations achieve, deliver, and ship more-secure software, which is now becoming the goal of every organization, developer, and security team member.