Open Source Code Scanning – Managing The Risks Behind Open Source Code

Open Source Code Scanning - Managing The Risks Behind Open Source Code
Written by prodigitalweb

Open source scanners are software solutions that help security teams identify and manage vulnerabilities in open-source software. This type of software is known for containing weaknesses associated with licensing limitations and obligations. A reliable open source license scanner will look & find the potential vulnerabilities in your system before they could become a bigger problem.

Namely, software composition analysis tools have the ability to scan projects for outdated and unpatched open source components. Then, they compare their findings with multiple databases filled with known vulnerabilities and try to find a match. If matches are found the software presents the vulnerabilities and provides assistance with their remediation.

Explaining The Need Behind Open Source Scanning

The use of open source components in modern development is higher than ever before. Open-source software is too convenient to be missed out on, as it allows developers to effectively reuse code that is already written.

With the help of open-source software, developers can achieve much more in significantly less time. However, while the use of open-source software has its advantages, it also introduces a whole new set of vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.

There are multiple reasons why open source components a more vulnerable to a cyberattack:

  • It is not standardized – The whole point of open-source software is to allow a large number of developers from everywhere in the world to work on one single project. This means that there is no way that a security standard policy can be enforced.
  • It constantly evolves – The evolution of open-source software means that it is frequently updated and changed. While older versions of the software may have been tested and showed no vulnerabilities, this can easily change in the future.
  • It is open for attackers as well – Most developers make use of the open-source software in ethical ways, but there is to stop hackers looking for vulnerabilities.

Implementing an open source scanning software solution is vital for the security of any organization that uses open source components. When not handled properly, open-source software can put security risks in place, as well as licensing compliance risks, and code quality issues. The best way to prevent these exploits is by adopting an open-source vulnerability scanners software solution. Generally, open-source scanners operate in 3 stages:

  • Scanning stage: The tool scans for open source components in your project and creates a software bill of materials with its findings.
  • Verification stage: The detected open-source software is then verified against licensing conflicts with known organizational policies.
  • Remediation stage: Lastly the findings are compared with multiple databases containing information about known vulnerabilities and exposures. If vulnerabilities are found, the tool reports about them and suggests a remediation path.

Problems Of Using OSS and Alternatives

In addition to security risks, open-source software can introduce other challenges as well:

  • Updating – Because open-source software does not have a vendor supporting it, updating the components you are using becomes more complicated. You have to find newer versions yourself to keep them secure and functional.
  • Licensing – Just because a piece of software is open, it does not necessarily mean it is free. The licensing and the use case of the open-source software you need have to see eye to eye with your business model.
  • Training – Unlike proprietary software, open-source does not come with manual instructions and resources needed for training. You need to tread carefully when creating a training program for your team if you are looking at implementing it.
  • Support – There is no dedicated customer support for open-source software. The best you can hope for is help from other users, which can often be found in forums online.
  • Policy – Remember to enforce a strict policy on what open-source software your organization can use. Without it, your developers will make use of everything they can find online, which can lead to problems in the future.


Open-source software is a great way for development teams to speed things up, though it can be challenging to manage. The way that this software is built makes it prone to cyber-attacks and difficult to patch and update.

Licensing and compliance issues are very common for organizations that make use of it. Utilizing an open-source scanning software solution is a great way to tackle most of the challenges that come with it and keep them in check.

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