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Eclipse Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, David H Deans, JP Morgenthal

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Application Security for Open Source - The New Frontier

Building a partnership between security and engineering teams

Hybrid applications made up of proprietary, open source and third-party components are the result of today’s fast-paced and complex software development landscape. Applications developed within the last five years – whether internal or external – are at least 50% open source software (OSS) and third-party components. Of that amount, over one-third of it is undocumented. What were once purely proprietary applications are now complex code mashups. It’s safe to say that open source is everywhere – it’s woven throughout your enterprise network whether or not you are aware of it.

IDC Research has called the use of open source “the most significant, all-encompassing and long-term trend that the software industry has seen since the early 1980s.” [1] The study also revealed that open source was being used by 71% of worldwide developers, and was in production at 54% of their companies. Although upper management has only recently signed off on its use, developers have long understood that open source is the fastest (and cheapest) path to software innovation.

For good reasons, developers have been coding around OSS components for many years – it’s extremely accessible, it’s collaborative, and it’s free. While OSS offers clear benefits to application development, it also poses unique challenges to application security.

The sheer size of an application code base coupled with the number of contributing developers makes it nearly impossible for companies to get accurate documentation of OSS inventory and usage. Without this information, security vulnerabilities, copyright violations, and license requirements often go unnoticed. Undocumented code represents a significant gap in application security coverage that can lead to:

  • Loss of critical customer data
  • Release or theft of corporate confidential information
  • Emergency remediation to resolve license obligations
  • Financial loss due to legal action, fines, and/or product rework
  • Disruption of service

More Stories By Theresa Bui-Friday

As VP of Product Marketing, Theresa Bui-Friday is responsible for Palamida's positioning, core communications content, go-to-market initiatives, and press and analyst relations team. She has over 12 years' of expertise in the software industry with a focus on emerging technology. Prior to Palamida, Theresa was Director of Strategic Marketing at Cacheon. She was also Director of Enterprise Marketing for Embark.com, which is now Princeton Review, where she held global responsibility for product marketing of the enterprise product lines, including competitive and market evaluation, strategic planning and outbound marketing programs.

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