Nowadays, most developers use open source code and libraries to build their applications. This creates a growing need for a solution that analyzes and tracks the open source in the application’s codebase. In this article, we will discuss the concept of software composition analysis (SCA), its relevance and benefits. We will explain the evolution of the SCA, and in what consists the maturity model.

What is Software Composition Analysis?

Software composition analysis is defined as the identification of open source libraries that are built into an application. SCA solutions analyze the source code used in the application, documenting the commercial, proprietary and open source components. This helps companies identify vulnerabilities in the source code.

 

This is important as according to studies, there has been an increase of 88% in application vulnerabilities over the last two years, due to the growth (doubling) in open source adoption. Software composition analysis helps developers address problems at the beginning, avoiding future security issues by detecting the risks coming from open source components.

 

The fast pace of software innovation drives companies (and developers) to base the bulk of their applications package on open source code. Since it is free and easy to use, this helps companies keep up with the fast pace of the application market. That is why more companies are adopting SCA solutions to manage the use of third-party libraries.

 

The financial technology (FinTech) and internet of things (IoT) software applications are at the forefront of the demand for software composition analysis solutions, as shown in this report from Research and Markets. Moreover, the market is expected to grow to $400 million by 2022.

 

Features:

  • Precisely examines components via binary fingerprint.
  • Generates “true positives” and “true negatives” when scanning against proprietary intelligence.
  • Provides vulnerability intelligence through curated and proprietary research.
  • Automates the software supply chain.

 

Software composition analysis solutions were developed in three phases:

  1. The first generation: Open source code scanning—analyzes parts of the code and compares it with existing open source databases. However, this solution generates a lot of false positives.
  2. The second generation: Continuous open source components management—detects vulnerabilities and licensing issues in real-time.
  3. The third generation: Effective usage analysis—investigates, on a deeper level, how the components are being used, and their impact on the application’s security.

4 Benefits of Using Software Composition Analysis

Protects you from open source risks by identifying open source components and vulnerabilities in applications.

 

Documents all third-party components, licenses obligations, and versions, in a comprehensive bill of materials (BOM) of all open source component used in your applications.

 

Reduces license risk

Software composition analysis detects which components have licenses for commercial use, exposing your company to license violations and intellectual property ownership. SCA lets your team manage the licensing before sending the application to production.

 

Reduces software weakness

Detects vulnerabilities early in the developing process. Helps developers identify weaknesses on the go, resulting in a stronger product. Minimizes design and process issues, using quantitative and qualitative analysis, evaluating the quality of the development process.

 

Improves security

Software composition analysis solutions provide continuous vigilance, by sending alerts when new appear in the software composing the application. Even if it was previously scanned. It tests the applications from the inside, uncovering potential holes that can be exploited by an attacker. Gives recommendations for remediation, thus improving your incident response plan.

The Maturity Model

This model determines the maturity of processes and business value according to four levels of maturity:

 

Level 1. Reactive

Assesses if the applications are compliant with security standards.

Level 2. Enabled

Evaluates the use of standard vulnerability management, open source software compliance, and obligation management processes.

Level 3. Automated

Checks there are automated processes for scale and user experience in place.

Level 4. Optimized

Assesses if the applications are optimized for growth, scalability, and transformation.

 

The software composition analysis business process is a funnel consisting of vulnerability management, license management, obligation management, and component management dimensions.

 

  • Vulnerability management—prevents security issues by introducing third-party components.
  • License management—manages open source licenses to prevent license violations and intellectual ownership issues. Reduces legal risk.
  • Obligation management—relates to the utilization of open source software.
  • Component management—defines which components are used and how, and uses this information for procurement and developing.

 

The maturity model provides a starting point that you can use to evaluate your open source risk management. The model also gives your company the tools to analyze how it fares compared to industry standards.

 

Conclusion

Open source gives organizations a competitive advantage by speeding up developing times. How to prevent open source code from becoming a source of threats is the job of software composition analysis tools. The market is expanding, providing the opportunity for developers to implement the solutions and build better and more secure applications.