It’s all around you, so you start to accept the risks. But just because open source software is everywhere doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you and your organization. You’ve probably encountered it in your everyday life; with names like VLC Media Player, GIMP, and Audacity in the game, open source software (OSS) is an increasingly popular resource for increasingly large user bases.
What makes a piece of software open source? Simply put: collaboration. When the source code for certain computer software is released under a license that grants users the rights to use, study, change, and distribute the software to anyone for any purpose, that software is classified as OSS.
Nowadays, OSS software is mainstream, to the point that some major IT security providers make use of open source assessment tools in servicing their clients. Yet experts warn that the risks may be far greater than we realize.
Here at BAI Security, we believe in assessing your organization’s IT security with only best-in-breed, globally recognized tools deployed by our highly specialized and entirely in-house expert team of auditors. But what happens when other providers use open source assessment tools, thereby introducing dozens of potentially risky variables that may compromise your assessment results or even your whole environment?
The Concerning X Factors
A piece of open source software is never truly completed. Rather, it is a project under constant construction, built by volunteers who have no obligation to maintain it. These volunteers may lose interest or deem the software ineffective at their whim, stalling or altogether halting project development. And as frequent readers of this blog will know, there are few vulnerabilities that hackers love to exploit more than outdated software.
The communal nature of OSS also involves questionable legality, a financial minefield for organizations being assessed with open source tools. Programmers face potential conflicts of intellectual property—OSS maintainers control what code is inserted into the software, but if a contributor’s code is proprietary, for instance, the maintainer has no way of knowing whether they are committing infringement. Open source tools found to contain proprietary code could result in their provider and client being held liable.
Worth noting is that OSS developers don’t necessarily control the scope of their software. A project meant to be small and personal could grow to reach a larger community, which can result in a widespread piece of software with improper licensing or copyright infringement.
Whereas your organization has the option to privately and efficiently address software vulnerabilities, OSS vulnerabilities are made public knowledge. In an ideal world, its users and programmers would come together to patch the vulnerabilities in time, but hackers have been known to track down and exploit these vulnerabilities with concerning ease. Information on OSS vulnerabilities has even been known to lay out exactly how a hacker could take advantage of the weakness in question, making their job easier than ever.
Keep in mind that open source software is everywhere, and the probability of your organization using tools with open source components is quite high. This information is accessible in any partially open source applications, but it can be difficult to track down or patch without a comprehensive vulnerability assessment—one that, ideally, doesn’t make use of open source software itself.
The Best of the Best
The cyber-safety of your organization is BAI Security’s first priority, so any tool that may contain inherent risk (such as open source software) is a chance we’re not willing to take.
As an industry leader in cybersecurity, BAI Security is proud to use only best-in-breed tools and award-winning technologies, ensuring the highest quality assessment in the industry. Our high quality assessment tools are hand-selected by our expert team and represent our dedication to providing assessments that are both exhaustive and accurate—for a process and results you can trust.
For total confidence in your next IT Security Assessment, contact us today.