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Open Source: Survey Finds that There is a Lot to Like about OS, but Some Big Gotchas, Especially with Security

By Dick Weisinger

Organizations are increasingly finding value in the use of open source, but they are slipping in their ability to effectively secure and manage the open source code that they use, according to a new study on Open Source by Black Duck.

Why are organizations using Open Source?  The Black Duck report found near unanimous agreement that Open Source provides easy access and cost savings.  Thousands of open source projects are simply a download away.  84 percent of organizations said that  open source helps them to avoid vendor lock-in, and 67 percent said that they like the ability to review code and fix or customize it, as needed.

There is a lot to like about Open Source, but there are also some things that you need to watch out for.  The Black Duck report said that “the effective management of open-source is not keeping pace with the increase in use.”  There is very little control or tracking in organizations for which open source projects they are using and how they are using them.  A major side effect of poor control over which open source projects are being used is that updates to open source projects are typically installed very infrequently, if ever.

71 percent of organizations say that their use of open source in applications might be exposing them  to exploits, especially through applications that they have made available external to their organization.  61 percent of organizations worry that their development teams either don’t have specific rules for managing open source software or, if they do have rules, they simply aren’t being followed.

Lou Shipley, Black Duck CEO, said that “today open source comprises 80% to 90% of the code in a modern application and the application layer is a primary target for hackers. This means that exploitation from known open source vulnerabilities represents the most significant application security risk most organizations face.”

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