Prashant Verma lends his professional insight on the security risks of open-source software

Prashant Verma, a senior software product development leader, and a silicon valley veteran is weighing his professional insight on the security risks of open-source software.

The following paragraphs highlight Prashant’s professional perception of the subject matter.

Prashant believes that despite the advantages, open-source software tends to have vulnerabilities that might impact data and organizations. He lists the top three open source security risks prevalent today: software security risks, publicity of exploits, and licensing compliance risks.

But what exactly are Open Source Vulnerabilities?

Vulnerabilities in open source software are essentially security issues. These are examples of a weak or susceptible program that allows cybercriminals to carry out harmful attacks or take undesired actions.

Open source flaws can sometimes lead to cyberattacks such as denial of service (DoS). It can also result in catastrophic data breaches, in which an attacker gains unauthorized access to a company’s critical data.

Risk to Software Security

Open-source vulnerabilities become a tempting target for attackers as these vulnerabilities and the information to exploit them are often in the public domain, exponentially increasing the threat vector to applications. Hackers can gain the necessary information to carry out the attack. Due to the massive use of these open-source software under the hood by commercially shipped software, such vulnerabilities, when discovered, very often lead to havoc and are a significant source of security threat to software users and firms. The biggest problem is the general lack of awareness about the presence of these software and libraries.

Publicity of Exploits

Platforms such as National Vulnerability Database (NVD) expose the list of vulnerabilities to the general public. Though this is a commendable effort and helps make the software secure, it makes the information available to malicious actors.

The massive Equifax breach in 2017, in which the credit reporting organization released the personal information of 143 million people, is a well-known incidence of attacks due to publicly available open source vulnerabilities.

Licensing Compliance Issues

Open-source software is bundled with a license that defines how the source code can be used, modified, or shared. The main problem arises when these licenses fail to meet the stringent OSI and SPDX open-source definitions.

In addition to that, commercially released software products often include many open source components released under various license types, such as GPL, Apache License, or MIT License.

Prashant Verma teaches that to beat these open source security risks, firms should provide security training to their staff, embrace automation and scanning for vulnerabilities in open source software, and finally, build a security-first culture.

Prashant Verma is a senior software product development leader and has led the development of innovative and ground-breaking software products. He has an MBA from Haas School of Business, U.C. Berkeley, a Master of Science in Computer Science from Georgia Tech, and a Bachelor of Engineering from the National Institute of Technology, India. With a career spanning 20 years, Mr. Verma has worked in some of the leading companies around the globe such as Telstra, Genesys, Hutchison 3G, Symantec, TIBCO, F5 Networks, and Penumbra, Inc. He is a Senior Member of IEEE, Member ACM, and regularly judges several international awards such as Edison Awards, Stevie Awards, Brandon Hall Awards, SIIA Codie Awards, Globee Awards, etc.

The views expressed here reflect the authors’ opinions alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of any of their present or past organizations.

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