Companies turn a blind eye to open source risk

Though open source software (OSS) helps software suppliers be nimble and build products faster, there are hidden software supply chain risks all software suppliers and IoT manufacturers should know about.

open source risk

For instance, criminals who potentially gained access to the personal data of the Equifax customers exploited an Apache Struts CVE-2017-5638 vulnerability. Apache Struts is a widely used open source component – a framework for Web servers – used by companies in commercial and in-house systems to take in and serve up data. The use case of this open source component makes it a prime target for cyberattacks.

Key findings

Wile as much as 50 percent of all code found in commercial and IoT software products is open source, according to a new Flexera report:

No OSS policy is bad policy: Only 37 percent of respondents have an open source acquisition or usage policy. 63 percent say either their companies don’t have an open source acquisition or usage policy, or they don’t know if one exists.

No one’s in charge of OSS: 39 percent of respondents said that either no one within their company is responsible for open source compliance – or that they don’t know who is.

OSS contributors aren’t following best practices: 33 percent or respondents say their companies contribute to open source projects. But, of the 63 percent who say their companies don’t have an open source acquisition or usage policy, 43 percent said they contribute to open source projects.

“We can’t lose sight that open source is indeed a clear win. Ready-to-go code gets products out the door faster, which is important given the lightning pace of the software space,” said Jeff Luszcz, Vice President of Product Management at Flexera. “However, most software engineers don’t track open source use, and most software executives don’t realize there’s a gap and a security/compliance risk.”

open source risk

Report takeaway for software and IoT companies? Your processes for managing open source security and licensing haven’t kept pace with open source’s rapid adoption – and it’s putting you and your customers at risk.

“Open source processes protect products and brand reputation. But, most software and IoT vendors don’t realize there is a problem, so they’re not protecting themselves and their customers,” said Luszcz. “This endangers the entire software supply chain – for the vendors whose products are exposed to compliance and vulnerability risk. And also for their customers who most likely don’t even know they’re running open source and other third-party software, or that it may contain software vulnerabilities.”