Flexera issues warning about cyberattacks like the Equifax Breach: they’re probably just the first known victim

As 143 million Equifax consumers continue to pick up the pieces from stolen Social Security numbers, birth dates, drivers’ licenses, addresses and credit card numbers, Flexera has another warning – expect a long tail of incidents and breaches in the months and years to come.

Flexera, the company that’s reimaging how software is bought, sold, managed and secured, surveyed over 400 software suppliers, Internet of Things (IoT) manufacturers and in-house development teams to publish its Open Source Risk – Fact or Fiction? report. Though open source software (OSS) helps software suppliers be nimble and build products faster – today’s report reveals hidden software supply chain risks all software suppliers and IoT manufacturers should know about.

For instance, criminals who potentially gained access to the personal data of the Equifax customers exploited an Apache Struts CVE-2017-5638 vulnerability. Apache Struts is a widely used open source component – a framework for Web servers – used by companies in commercial and in-house systems to take in and serve up data. The use case of this open-source component makes it a prime target for cyberattacks.

Case in point? While as much as 50% of all code found in commercial and IoT software products is open source, according to the Flexera report:

  • No OSS Policy is Bad Policy: Only 37 % of respondents have an open source acquisition or usage policy. 63% say either their companies don’t have an open source acquisition or usage policy, or they don’t know if one exists.
  • No One’s in Charge of OSS: 39% of respondents said that either no one within their company is responsible for open source compliance – or that they don’t know who is.
  • OSS Contributors Aren’t Following Best Practices: 33% of respondents say their companies contribute to open source projects. But, of the 63% who say their companies don’t have an open source acquisition or usage policy, 43% said they contribute to open source projects.

“We can’t lose sight that open source is indeed a clear win. Ready-to-go code gets products out the door faster, which is important given the lightning pace of the software space,” said Jeff Luszcz, vice president of product management at Flexera. “However, most software engineers don’t track open source use, and most software executives don’t realise there’s a gap and a security/compliance risk.”

Report takeaway for software and IoT companies? Your processes for managing open source security and licensing haven’t kept pace with open source’s rapid adoption – and it’s putting you and your customers at risk.

“Open source processes protect products and brand reputation. But, most software and IoT vendors don’t realise there is a problem, so they’re not protecting themselves and their customers,” said Luszcz. “This endangers the entire software supply chain – for the vendors whose products are exposed to compliance and vulnerability risk. And also for their customers who most likely don’t even know they’re running open source and other third-party software, or that it may contain software vulnerabilities.”

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