Both open-source and commercial license codes are utilized in most modern software. It is a crucial aspect of the software development life cycle since it may be utilized as standalone components or as subcomponents within the software. Managing these dependencies is essential for a product’s long-term upkeep.
Clearly, managing software dependencies is not exclusive to open source software and is something that should be considered at all times. Open source dependencies have a number of advantages over proprietary licensed dependencies, including quick access, direct updates from the development team, and limitless usage. Regardless of how simple anything is to use, there are a few details to keep track of in the long run.
Why Use Open Source Dependencies?
The popularity of open-source software is skyrocketing. According to GitHub, open-source components are currently used in 94% of projects, with an average of 700 dependencies per project. To put it another way, practically every project (whether it’s an application, a tool, or anything else that requires developers to write code) relies on third-party components (written by others) to perform successfully.
Developers benefit greatly from open-source software. What used to take hundreds of lines of code may now be done with just one line of code. It’s an absolute game-changer that allows the software to be released much more quickly and assists product teams in meeting deadlines and delivering crucial features on time.
But who is in charge of keeping track of these third-party components? Who is ensuring that the owner of these packages maintains their security posture just as how we expect the maker of building materials to maintain stringent quality and safety standards? How can a developer ensure that the packages they install won’t bring security vulnerabilities into their organization’s codebase if they’re on a tight deadline?
What Is Open Source Dependency Management?
What distinguishes an open-source dependent from other types of dependencies? A common misperception regarding open source software is that it does not come with support because it is free. Apart from possible exit charges, maintaining an open-source reliance on a business connection with a vendor, such as a support subscription, is similar to managing any other dependencies (which may be a topic for another article).
As a result, we’ll concentrate on open source reliance, which is best defined as the use of an open-source licensed subcomponent without a contractual connection with a vendor, guarantees, or a service-level agreement.
Open Source Dependency Management Best Practices
Because of the open nature of open source components, such dependencies are more likely to exist in code as a result of developers’ drive to complete tasks and deliver quickly. Every dependence that is added is not necessarily the result of a thorough review.
Maintaining dependencies, whether open source or proprietary, consumes resources and adds to the software’s technical debt, which is why it’s a vital part of the development process to keep track of these dependencies.
Most dependency issues can be simply controlled by following a few best practices that can be quickly implemented into a contemporary development process.
A list of recommended practices may include providing a forum for deliberate open-source dependency decisions, keeping a dependency list and analyzing it for security flaws, enhancing the integrity of the downloads, contributing upstream to open source projects, and keeping track of the process.
WhiteSource Vulnerability Database
The WhiteSource Vulnerability Lab gives you the knowledge you need regarding open source security vulnerabilities, gathered from hundreds of popular and under-the-radar community resources by WhiteSource’s extensive open source vulnerabilities database. It is one of the most comprehensive vulnerability developer resources and it is free and very user-friendly.
On conducting a search, the database not only identifies the vulnerability, but it also provides details such as the programming language, the CWE type, a CVSS severity score including CVSS v2.0 and v3.x, exposure level (how many organizations have been impacted), verified suggested fixes, low-down from the community, and additional info that will help you make informed remediation decisions.
Engineering teams that do not have a methodology in place to assess dependencies early in the development lifecycle should take a proactive approach to manage their open-source use. Engineers must have access to dependency analysis software that fits smoothly into their existing procedures, and developers must have a continuous, centralized view of what their developers are working on.