Open Source: Everyone Uses It. Now Bad Actors Know Where to Aim

September 2, 2022

Peace of mind is a valuable thing, a commodity one might think worth allocating some funds to ensure, particularly when one is engaged in permanent cyber warfare. Yet, according to BetaNews, “80 Percent of Enterprises Use Open Source Software and Nearly All Worry About Security.” A recent report from Synopsys and based on research by Enterprise Strategy Group found 80% of enterprises use open source software (OSS), and 99% of those are concerned about related security issues. Apparently one percent is not paying attention—such worry is justified because few in the IT department know what’s in the open source libraries or know how to find manipulated or rogue instructions. Reporter Ian Barker tells us:

“In response to high profile supply chain attacks 73 percent of respondents say they have increased their efforts significantly to secure their organizations’ software supply chain. Steps taken include the adoption of some form of multi-factor authentication technology (33 percent), investment in application security testing controls (32 percent), and improved asset discovery to update their organization’s attack surface inventory (30 percent). Despite those efforts, 34 percent of organizations report that their applications have been exploited due to a known vulnerability in open source software within the last 12 months, with 28 percent having suffered a previously unknown zero-day exploit found in open source software.

Pressure to improve software supply chain risk management has shone a spotlight on software Bills of Materials (SBOMs). But exploding OSS usage and lackluster OSS management has made the compilation of SBOMs complex — the ESG research shows that 39 percent of survey respondents marked this task as a challenge of using OSS. … [The study also found] 97 percent of organizations have experienced a security incident involving their cloud-native applications within the last 12 months.”

All this, and the use of open source software is expected to jump to 99% next year. It seems those who hold organizational purse strings care more about saving a few bucks than about their cybersecurity teams’ sleepless nights. If they suffer a breach, however, they may find that metaphoric purse has acquired a large hole. Just a thought, but an ounce of prevention may be warranted here.

Cheap and easy? Yep.

Cynthia Murrell, September 2, 2022


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