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6 Best Practices for Using Open Source Software Safely

Open source software is critical yet potentially dangerous. Here are ways to minimize the risk.

It's no longer a question of whether enterprise software is developed using open source code, but just how much open source code makes up each application. And as DevOps becomes the default development discipline for more organizations, the pressure to reach out and grab reusable modules and libraries is almost guaranteed to make open source code a greater percentage of enterprise software.

Even with commercial software, questions about third-party risk and supply chain security loom large. When those questions extend to open source software, they can become absolutely overwhelming.

Research bears that out. In reviewing enterprise codebases submitted for audit, Synopsis found 70% of the code was open source. While not in any way an indictment in and of itself, 73% of codebases they found had at least one licensing issue and 82% included 4-year-old code. Combined, the security and reliability of applications containing open source software becomes a legitimate concern.

As with so many facets of cybersecurity, attention to detail carries a great deal of weight when it comes to keeping open source containing projects safe and secure. What else do you need to know? Dark Reading combed the Internet and reviewed numerous conversations we've had in recent months to put together this collection of best practices. Let us know whether you have any of your own in the Comments section, below.

(Image: duncanandison VIA Adobe Stock)

About the Author(s)

Curtis Franklin, Principal Analyst, Omdia

Senior Analyst, Omdia

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Analyst at Omdia, focusing on enterprise security management. Previously, he was senior editor of Dark Reading, editor of Light Reading's Security Now, and executive editor, technology, at InformationWeek, where he was also executive producer of InformationWeek's online radio and podcast episodes

Curtis has been writing about technologies and products in computing and networking since the early 1980s. He has been on staff and contributed to technology-industry publications including BYTE, ComputerWorld, CEO, Enterprise Efficiency, ChannelWeb, Network Computing, InfoWorld, PCWorld, Dark Reading, and ITWorld.com on subjects ranging from mobile enterprise computing to enterprise security and wireless networking.

Curtis is the author of thousands of articles, the co-author of five books, and has been a frequent speaker at computer and networking industry conferences across North America and Europe. His most recent books, Cloud Computing: Technologies and Strategies of the Ubiquitous Data Center, and Securing the Cloud: Security Strategies for the Ubiquitous Data Center, with co-author Brian Chee, are published by Taylor and Francis.

When he's not writing, Curtis is a painter, photographer, cook, and multi-instrumentalist musician. He is active in running, amateur radio (KG4GWA), the MakerFX maker space in Orlando, FL, and is a certified Florida Master Naturalist.

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