The Synopsys Cybersecurity Research Center produces the report, and found that 96 percent of the code bases they analyzed contained open source components.
These were found with an average of 298 open source components per codebase. This is an increase from an average of 257 found in 2017. Disturbingly, the research center found more than 16,500 vulnerabilities over the course of their research, with more than 40 percent of the codebases analyzed having been found to contain at least one high-risk open source vulnerability.
The major problem does not stem from the fact that open source components are more prone to bugs. Rather, it stems from the fact that while companies are often quick to embrace open source software, they tend to do a relatively poor job of keeping it up to date.
The research group summarizes their findings as follows:
“At the end of the day, all software is vulnerable to attack – without exception – and the nature of open source software is to shine a light on the issues it has, leading to increased visibility of bugs, not an increase in bugs.
The security risk is significantly diminished by increasing visibility. If you’re not using open source components, you’d be using closed source components – either commercially available or hand-rolled – that have just as high of a likelihood of being vulnerable. Except that you just don’t know about the bugs, unlike with open source components.”
The group recommends the following actions. First, make regular use of readily available tools that can be used to scan your codebase to identify the open source components and their version numbers. Then check this data against one or more vulnerability databases to be sure you’re adequately protected. If you’re not currently doing so, the time is now.