We are not the first industry to face this challenge. But many are convinced our problem is much smaller than it really is or that it does not exist. They simply ignore it. Or choose to do nothing about it. Meanwhile, the problem is multiplying like rabbits. The challenge lies within our software. Within the quality of its supply chain, within our collective ability to maintain its health, and within our ability to establish easy (yes, I said easy) paths to ban rampant, yet avoidable risks.
Recently, Gartner published a new research report that says by 2016, “the vast majority of mainstream IT organizations will leverage nontrivial elements of open source software (directly or indirectly) in mission- critical IT solutions. However, most will fail to effectively manage these assets in a manner that minimizes risk and maximizes ROI.”
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…”, penned Charles Dickens in 1859’s A Tale of Two Cities.
I remember it clearly. Sitting down for breakfast, I opened the Sydney Morning Herald to see the latest headlines in Australia for the day. As I shuffled through the paper, I finally landed upon the Technology section and then noticed pages and pages of “help wanted” adds.
Paul Roberts (@paulfroberts) at InfoWorld recently shared his perspective on “5 big security mistakes coders make”. First on his list was trusting third-party code that can’t be trusted. Paul shares: “If you program for a living, you rarely — if ever — build an app from scratch. It’s much more likely that you’re developing an application from a pastiche of proprietary code that you or your colleagues created, partnered with open source or commercial, third-party software or services that you rely on to perform critical functions.
The U.S. recently overtook France as the world’s largest wine market. And here at Sonatype, we can proudly say we’ve contributed to this achievement. By not only consuming our fair share of wine but by also being involved — outside of work — in crafting our own wines. Over the 4th of July holiday, I was able to enjoy some of the wine I’ve aged over the years. For the best wines, aging can create spectacular results years down the line. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for code and components used in today’s applications. Where aging improves a fine wine, code ages more like milk.
There are two ways to motivate others to action: emotional appeal and fact based analysis. Our 2014 Open Source and Application Security survey results touched on both. We’ve run this survey for the past four years, but this time we decided to reveal the results in a new way. Rather than let our marketing team “spin” the results, we wanted to provide you a completely independent perspective focus on both open source development and application security. Adrian Lane, CTO and Security Analyst, at Securosis jumped at the chance. We provided him the raw survey results data and he agreed to write the analysis. We did not ask or direct him on what to write; in fact, Securosis’ Totally Transparent Research methodology does not allow companies like Sonatype to influence their research.
Enthusiasm for securing the software supply chain is growing in both conversation and practice. For the past year, Sonatype has called for a new approach to securing the software supply chain that gives organizations an opportunity to protect their business and their applications from hacker exploits — taking a frictionless approach built into the supply chain and software development lifecycle, as opposed to bolt-on solutions looking for vulnerabilities later in the development process.
Its not everyday I can stop to enjoy my afternoon tea outside on my deck, overlooking my garden. But today I did and while admiring my beautiful blooming flowers, I started to draw some parallels between my garden and software development. Full disclosure, I wouldn’t consider myself a true gardener. I buy plants that have already been cultivated to a mature stage on someone else’s farm or in someone else’s greenhouse.
Over the past four years, Sonatype has surveyed open source development organizations and year after year, we find that developers have the best intentions. They strive to build good quality code, free of defects and flaws but when it comes to policies that enforce these standards, the manual review process is at odds with how developers really work. If you don’t believe me, here are just a few examples of how developers describe the challenge manual policies create.