Open source security is rapidly becoming a major concern

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The widespread use of open source software (OSS) within modern application development poses a “significant security risk”, new research suggests.

According to a new report from cybersecurity company Snyk, together with the Linux (opens in new tab) Foundation, today’s organizations are underprepared to tackle these risks.

Based on a survey of more than 550 respondents, as well as data pulled from 1.3 billion open source projects via Snyk Open Source, the report states that two in five (41%) firms are not confident in the security of their open source code.

Vulnerabilities in open source code

The average application development project, it was found, has 49 vulnerabilities, as well as 80 direct dependencies. Usually, it now takes 110 days to remedy a vulnerability in an open source project, up from 49 days four years ago.

“Software developers today have their own supply chains – instead of assembling car parts, they are assembling code by patching together existing open source components with their unique code. While this leads to increased productivity and innovation, it has also created significant security concerns,” said Matt Jarvis, Director, Developer Relations, Snyk.

Jarvis added that there’s a certain “naivete” to the industry’s approach to open-source software, which could open the door to all manner of malware, ransomware and other attacks.

For example, less than half (49%) have a security policy for OSS development or usage, dropping down to 27% among medium and large-size companies. Furthermore, less than a third (30%) of organizations without an open-source security policy are aware of the fact that at the moment, no one is addressing the security of open source software.

But some respondents are aware of the security challenges posed by open source software in the supply chain. A quarter said they were concerned about the security impact of their dependencies on OSS, and only 18% said they were confident in the controls they’ve set up for their transitive dependencies, where 40% of all vulnerabilities were found.