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Impact Of Using Open Source Software On Cybersecurity


End users and security vendors have access to similar resources and technology to deal with the malicious actor community. But, teamwork is an area where cyber-security often falls short. This fragmented security landscape can hurt the customers, creating security vulnerabilities that threat actors can exploit.

As per the X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, cyberattacks by malicious actors are at an all-time high, with ransomware alone comprising 23% of the attacks. At the same time, operational technology infrastructure attacks increased by 2,000%. 

One of the reasons for this worrisome development is that customers often operate with autonomy while malicious actors work collectively in a collaborative environment.

Open source software (OSS) security refers to the processes and tools leveraged to manage and secure compliance from production to development. The best ones automatically explore open-source dependencies in your apps, provide valuable information and critical versioning, and trigger alerts to identify policy violations. 

Then they automatically monitor alerts and block attacks in production, targeting any open-source component's vulnerability to help you take quick action.

You no longer rely on the vendor or your security team's experts and developers with open-source software. Instead, you can contact the entire open-source community, like the other organizations or vendors, including researchers and universities, all looking at the same code and improving it. 

How Open Source Helps Cybersecurity Teams?

Cybersecurity experts are quick to gauge the associated risks with open source. For example, a programmer might insert buggy open-source code unknowingly into an enterprise software application. This action can make the organization, its customers, and its partners vulnerable to increasingly complicated data breaches.

However, with the skyrocketing threats of IT attacks putting extreme pressure on the sector during Covid-19, an increasing number of cybersecurity professionals comprehend the importance of open source and how it can be a robust tool to protect customers and stay ahead of security auditing issues. 

With free and open-source tools and components becoming more common in enterprise environments, it is essential to collaborate more on product integrations and threat intelligence as a security vendor.

Adopting open-source software minimizes the cost of overall development and frees the developers to concentrate on more value-added jobs. Another significant benefit of open-source software is its lower cost. And in case a problem arises, you can easily open up and fix the code immediately instead of waiting for a vendor to answer. 

Giants in the IT sector, including Microsoft, have embraced OSS cybersecurity but one significant concern is that it’s easier to exploit as the source code is available freely. Some security leaders consider proprietary software more secure than OSS since its code is hidden. After all, even if there are flaws in code, malicious actors cannot exploit them if they cannot see them.

While proprietary software also has vulnerabilities, the disclosure of the source code is a significant compliance problem. This approach is called “security through obscurity,” which includes several flaws. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) explicitly suggests depending on “security through obscurity” to ensure the system’s safety. System security shouldn’t rely on the implementation secrecy or its components.

The transparency of code implies that more users take the time to assess the solution for vulnerabilities. But this isn’t primarily the case. There isn’t a dedicated user base for every component of open-source code, and it’s not even guaranteed if the team has adequate knowledge and expertise to recognize and address all issues.

Here are some ways for security professionals to ensure security even with an open-source code:

  • Use multi-factor authentication and strong passwords
  • Eliminate software that isn’t in use anymore
  • Keep up with security updates on all your software
  • Regulate user access to ensure data security 
  • Deploy breach detection tool
  • Encrypt data as required
  • Have a response protocol ready in case of security breach detection 

Open Source To Detect Vulnerabilities – Is It A Possibility?

With the latest reports regarding cybersecurity attacks in several organizations, it is crucial to adequately secure your firm’s web applications, software, supply chain, and data from malware, ransomware, and phishing threats.

As a widely adopted and effective tool, open-source threat intelligence helps you identify all risks, vulnerabilities, and growing threats to safeguard the valuable data assets of your organization.

Advancements and developments in computing technologies have enabled open-source security tools such as threat intelligence to recognize cyber threats and vulnerabilities across industries in all areas. 

What Are The Risks Associated With Implementing Open Source Software?

Before you deploy open source software in your organization, it is essential to consider the concerns and risks associated with its deployment. The following are some of the dangers of open source software:

  1. Excessive access and code vulnerabilities. Open access implies that the code is accessible by all. As a result, this creates opportunities for malicious actors to manipulate the code as they like. Leveraging OSS can give bad actors multiple avenues to gain unauthorized access to your information and networks.
  2. Lack of support. Most OSS systems do not have a dedicated support team. Without solid support teams, security patches and updates might not be available. If the bad actors detect vulnerabilities in open source software, they can exploit those system weaknesses to gain unapproved access to your company’s information and networks.
  3. Lack of verification. There is no guarantee that qualified experts carry out adequate testing and quality assurance within open source software development or those reviewing the code meticulously assess its security. This lack of confirmation can make your computer infrastructure vulnerable to attacks

Before you get and deploy open source software, it is imperative to conduct assurance activities thoroughly. With these precautions, you can better protect and minimize the security risk of your company’s systems and networks.

On the other hand, proprietary software has in-built controls to prevent the use of incompatible or multiple versions. Open source elements usually rely on the users to authenticate proper use.

Is There A Balance Between Open Source And Closed Systems? 

In the age of automation and technology, software is being leveraged and embraced more and more in routine tasks. However, regardless of the use a particular software has, there are two main types: open source and closed source. 

Closed-source software is the one that keeps the source code encrypted and safe. Users cannot modify, copy, or delete code sections without consequences, ranging from canceling the warranty to legal repercussions.

On the other hand, open source software is the one that is the opposite. It enables the users to modify, delete, or copy code sections at their discretion. Furthermore, the user can use functions on their program without any repercussions.

Overall, if you want flexibility, scalability, and minimal costs, open-source software projects are an excellent place to start your cybersecurity journey. However, it can be challenging to select technology that is well-suited to your wants and needs. 

Wrapping Up

While open source software can be convenient, open source software can pose risks to your organization. Therefore, many organizations are turning to CyberStrong, a leading platform for security assessments in real-time, to help them ensure a safe environment that seamlessly connects their systems and people. 

The platform provides unmatched visibility into threats while automating your IT compliance. Furthermore, this holistic cyber risk software seamlessly integrates with your tech stack to provide you with all dimensions of associated risks in real-time.

Browse through our site or reach out to us to learn more.

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