How Open-Source Libraries/Vulnerabilities can destroy the project?

In software development lifecycle most of the us use the open-source libraries like express, react, bootstrap, spring-web, PostgreSQL, jQuery, Log4J and so on in our projects. But most of us have never bothered on the security implications or licensing for these libraries. Hackers will always look into your applications to find out which library is being used and how to break it and find out the critical information from your applications. One of the recent outbreaks which has shocked the entire software industry is Log4J.

Log4J vulnerability:

Sometime back we have heard some news about Log4J (a logging library for Java) which was widely used by business and web portals. According to CERT multiple vulnerabilities have been reported in this library can be exploited by an attacker for performing the DoS attack on the targeted servers.

When it was reported most of the business team were shocked and developers had a nightmare on how to fix and change the codebase without affecting the other functionalities.  One of the suggested fixes for fixing Log4J is to install Web Application Firewall. But what if a developer has missed to do this. So, it should be automatically checked in such a way that if Log4J is used then the project has to be rejected or an auto fix has to be done before proceeding further.

How can Open-Source libraries be detected and how we can handle?

Libraries can Open-Source or proprietary. But due to closed nature of proprietary and time consuming most of us will be going with Open-Source libraries. As the name suggests Open-Source multiple people will be working on these libraries and we are not sure where the security issues are there and under what kind of license these libraries fall.

One is to do manual checking which causes in missing one or the other library as well as a lot of time to do research on specific library and its fixes if any issues it has. In a current situation as most of the companies are into Agile environment, they have a very less time for each sprint for product release. So, investing in Manual work will be time taking as well as costly effort.

The other way is to invest in tools which can find out the vulnerabilities in short time and helping the security or development in using right library. These tools will be maintaining a huge database from various open-source libraries database like CVE/NVD, and various other sources like GitHub. Some of the tools are so intelligent that while browsing for any library they will give information on security aspect as well as under what license this library they will come. Also, they are so intelligent that if a library is used with security issues, they will guide you through the patch which upon your interest you can merge from their suggested website or reject the usage of patch.

How dangerous the open-source libraries are?

FSF (Free Software Foundation) is a nonprofit foundation which has a large proportion of the GNU OS and other free software. FSF has sued many companies for violating the licenses in the past and currently many companies are yet to be sued due to violation of license policies. Consider if you are using any library which comes under GPL it must be declared and the source code should be provided to software users for free. In the similar way every library comes under specific license and every license has its own terms and conditions. Manually tracking every library and its license policies is so difficult.

Trending tools in the market for finding open-source libraries and its security implications.

There are many tools in the market currently for finding out open-source libraries and its security implications. Out of many there are few tools which holds most of the market due to their technical capabilities and ease of use. They are WhiteSource, Snyk and BlackDuck. Most of the companies are going with multiple tools because every tool has its own limitation, so to overcome the limitation they are going with multiple tools. Because in this way if any tool misses any Vulnerabilities the other will find out which will make a huge impact on the security as well as their product quality.