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Enterprises Skimp On Testing Third-Party Code

Seventy percent run security, vulnerability assessments on internal code, but only 35 percent do the same for third-party code they bring in-house, Forrester/Coverity report finds
Most organizations use third-party code, but few actually vet it with the rigor they do for their internally written code.

A new survey by Forrester Research, commissioned by Coverity Software, found that while organizations are increasingly testing their internally developed applications, they aren't doing the same for the third-party applications or code they use.

Nearly 70 percent say they perform automated testing on their in-house developed code, but only 44 percent test the third-party code they use in-house. And while 70 percent run risk, security, or vulnerability assessments of their internal code, just 35 percent do the same for third-party code, the survey found. Some 68 percent perform manual code review of their internally written apps, while only 35 percent do the same for third-party software.

"The biggest surprise here was the data on third-party testing. We had seen a rise in third-party software, but we didn't expect to see the gap between the level of their testing for in-house code versus third-party code," says Jennifer Johnson, director of product marketing for Coverity. "Even if you have the most mature and rigorous [secure development] for your in-house software, that's only half the battle."

Coverity's Johnson says the report validates the shift in how code is developed. More than 90 percent of respondents -- more than half of which offer commercial software or services -- say they use some form of third-party software in their supply chain. "There are hundreds of suppliers in the software supply chain -- this could be open source, offshore, outsourced, or third-party component suppliers," she says.

Many organizations, including large software companies, are using third-party code to meet time-to-market pressures, as well as to lower their overhead. "Open source is free, [for example], and a way to get innovation and a competitive advantage supporting their brand," she says.

But using outside code has its disadvantages. More than 40 percent of the survey respondents say that product delays, vulnerabilities, increased development time, or revenue impact resulting from problems in their third-party code is leading them to look more closely at that code.

Forrester surveyed 336 software development professionals in North America and Europe for the report. A full copy of the report is available for download here.

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