Skip to main content
September 23, 2015

The Scalability Challenge, Part Five: Scaling With Open Source

Toy car is built to scaleDepending on where you work and what you do within the tech sector, addressing the security of your third-party software can dominate much of your time. That's especially true if your company is particularly security-conscious or spends a significant amount of its own resources utilizing custom-built code and premade parts from vendors. And that's just the proprietary stuff — throw in firms' increasing use of software components that are open source or third party, and you introduce a million potential situations, each of them capable of keeping your security people up at night.

Then there's the fact that businesses grow, and every uptick in size presents a new layer of complexity on the third-party and/or open-source software front. That basic concern is one of five questions at the heart of this series of posts, as well as Veracode's white paper, "Addressing the Scalability Challenge." Businesses need to reduce the risks inherent to third-party software. Here's where to start:

Third-Party Conundrum . . .

Depending on the third-party component you're using, the challenges can be so varied that they're islands unto themselves. Even then, however, your company's responsible for addressing them at the end of the day — not to mention accountable to customers, clients and regulatory agencies.

Take vendor components and code, for example. Whether you're talking individual pieces or entire apps, lack of direct access to the software's source code can be a significant security concern; so, too, can the lack of influence over those vendors' processes, since you and/or your security people can't work under two roofs at once.

A lot of open source's issues, on the other hand, are inherent to its basic concept: Since it can be difficult to get every developer on the same page regarding the newest, safest version of a given open component, for instance, it only takes one good-faith slipup to cause major problems.

. . . and the Scalable Solution

As you can see, dealing with these problems in a vacuum is tough enough. Dealing with them as the company grows? That's even more challenging. In either event, the secret to fixing these problems comes down to two ideas: automation and expert help.

As you know, automation can take a lot of shapes in development. The key is knowing which solutions to leverage — or having a platform that puts them all at your fingertips.

Just look at the challenges presented by vendor-provided components and code again. Even at a high level, the basic idea of automation — i.e., getting specialized hardware/software to do the grunt work for you — solves many concerns. Whether you're a small company dealing with a handful of components or a multinational enterprise with a host of vendor code running under your various hoods, a competent security platform can handle all tasks at a level human security actors just plain can't.

One of those tasks is scrutinizing vendor contributions without requiring access to their source code, thanks to static anaylsis. Since security's as much about policy as red-penciling code these days, platforms such as Veracode's also offer individualized enforcement tools and the human support needed to ensure those policies are airtight. That's a godsend when trying to enforce policy consistently across a large base of vendors — a common challenge for growing businesses.

The challenges of open source come with a set of solutions all their own. For example, the inventory issues noted above can become impossibly complex nightmares as a company's digital portfolio grows; a bill of materials, part of Veracode's comprehensive software composition analysis offering, helps ensure open-source code is as updated (and thus secure) as possible, removing conflicts and security flaws caused by conflicting versions and the like.

Better, that's only one solution in a package designed to keep the supply chain secure. Most of the solutions here are useful in securing both open- and closed-source components, giving you a tailorable ally against whatever unique challenges your company faces.

Veracode Secure

Though automated analysis and inventorizing tools do solve a lot of conceptual problems, every company's situation, challenges and use of third-party code is different. That makes finding a tailored, automated solution for closed and open outside contributions key. This is what makes Veracode an attractive option for companies of all sizes and growth rates. By offering a vast number of solutions and the expert support needed to implement them in a way that's most beneficial to your needs, the company's platform offers a fast, flexible solution to suit all your supply chain security needs — whatever they may be.

Ready to learn more? Download Veracode's white paper.

Photo Source: Flickr

Evan Wade is a professional freelance writer, author, and editor from Indianapolis. His time as a sales consultant with AT&T, combined with his current work as a tech reporter, give him unique insight into the world of mobile/Web security and the steps needed to properly secure software products. Follow him on Twitter.

Love to learn about Application Security?

Get all the latest news, tips and articles delivered right to your inbox.