Companies must be aware of certain limitations, obligations, and vulnerabilities of open-source licenses. To ensure potential cybersecurity risks are not overlooked, the process of software composition analysis (SCA) was developed to identify open-source software (OSS) in a codebase. Eventually, it was expanded to be an automated process that evaluates the code’s quality, compliance, and security levels. Because of the growing risks and pervasive use of open-source software, security and risk management leaders must expand the scope of SCA. Here are ten things you should know about software composition analysis:
1. SCA typically identifies vulnerabilities during the development process of homegrown applications to detect embedded OSS. The tool provides warnings regarding licenses that may enforce terms that the organization deems unacceptable.
2. The most significant challenges with OSS include concerns of the long-term viability of OSS projects, security vulnerabilities, deciding when to seek out commercial support from a vendor, and licensing problems.
3. When managing open-source components, most advanced SCA tools provide reports on direct dependencies, transitive dependencies, all related components, and their supporting libraries. The scanning process provides a complete inventory of the software assets, including a bill of materials.
4. Security groups, DevOps teams, and application developers are the primary buyers of SCA tools. The SCA market is composed of buyers seeking security testing tools offering features such as recognition and identification of OSS, software license identification, risk assessment, software vulnerabilities, governance and control, operational risk, and reporting and analysis. Because application development and DevOps teams have become primary purchasers, there is an increased demand for SCA tools to integrate better with development toolchains.
5. SCA buyers can select tooling from various sources, including application testing (AST) suite component, application development platform, stand-alone products, and open-source software.
6. Because SCA tools can indicate operational risk, buyers leverage SCA tools to address their supply chain concerns, including poor maintenance, presence of malicious code, code abandonment, uncertain project viability, and potential for future compromise.
7. When assessing operational risk, SCA tools evaluate factors such as update frequency, coding defect and vulnerability response, control changes, and number and reputation of maintainers.
8. SCA tools can also be used to determine and assess the potential legal risks of the license used to distribute a specific software package.
9. Rather than actually test OSS packages, SCA tools identify packages associated with known issues to look for alterations to the contents, changes in the application behavior, and other irregularities.
10. The increased interest and adoption of SCA is due to the spike and severity of recent supply chain attacks against both commercial and open-source software. With the rising adoption of SCA, the market is demanding increased focus on application security, assessments on operational risk, transparency into the contents of commercial software packages, and enhanced OSS governance.