Open Source Components Fail to Receive Suitable Security Attention
Less than 25 percent of developers test components for vulnerabilities at every release
April 12, 2018

Pete Chestna
CA Veracode

Only 52 percent of developers using commercial or open source components in their applications update those components when a new security vulnerability is announced, according to new research conducted by Vanson Bourne for CA Veracode, part of CA Technologies. This highlights organizations' lack of security awareness and puts organizations at risk of a breach.


Software development processes like DevSecOps have helped improve the security of the code developers write. However, these same development processes value speed and efficiency to keep up with the demands of the application economy. As a result, developers rely on components that borrow features and functionality from existing projects and libraries. The research shows that 83 percent of respondents use either or both commercial and open source components, with an average of 73 components being used per application.

While components boost developers’ efficiency, and their use is considered a best practice, these components come with inherent security risks. Despite finding an average of 71 vulnerabilities per application introduced through the use of third-party components, only 23 percent of respondents reported testing for vulnerabilities in components at every release. This may be a result of only 71 percent of organizations reporting to having a formal application security (AppSec) program in place.

What’s more, only 53 percent of organizations keep an inventory of all components in their applications. According to The State of Software Security Report 2017 (SOSS), fewer than 28 percent of companies conduct regular composition analysis to understand which components are built into their applications.

This report shows that development (44 percent) or security (31 percent) teams are most likely to be responsible for the maintenance of third-party commercial and open source components, which suggests a move towards responsibility for the development team. As awareness around open source risk continues to grow, providing developers with the solutions, education and visibility to mitigate risk becomes a critical component to the Modern Software Factory approach to development that helps to build better, more secure, apps faster.

We know that developers care about creating great code, and that means creating secure code. In order to be successful, developers need to have clarity on the security policy and the tools to measure against it. When the goal is clear and we give developers access to those tools, they are able to integrate scanning earlier into the SDLC and make informed decisions that take security into consideration. Through this, we see a marked improvement in secure software development and the resulting outcomes.

Methodology: CA Veracode commissioned Vanson Bourne to survey 400 application developers from the U.S. (200 respondents), UK (100 respondents), and Germany (100 respondents) to understand the maturity of organizations’ component security. Polling was conducted online in February of 2018.

Pete Chestna is Director of Developer Engagement at CA Veracode

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