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Open source software promises a benefit galore to most businesses. Not only does it promise the longevity of service from numerous vendors working on a single application, but it also promotes some form of customer focus as all customers of open source software can easily have some form of say in the development of the software. Additionally, security flaws can easily be fixed since open source software has a pool of developers behind it all working to improve it.
Despite the benefits being many, open source data breaches have increased by around 71% in the last half-decade, according to Zdnet.com. Simple errors can easily be missed in the development process which means that businesses cannot always rely on the open source community for optimal security. Ideally, you should protect your interests by doing due diligence when using open source software.
Here are some best practices for working with open source software:
Monitor the Health of the Software
Whether the software is running smoothly or not will eventually affect the bottom line of your business. An open source software glitch, while trivial, can lead to the absence of critical aspects of your business model. As such, commit to monitoring for uptime and reliability.
Ideally, this will require you to invest in the Best log management tools and network monitoring software. On the flip side, you will also have to train IT team members on the best practices of using such tools. With both the technical and human aspect of cybersecurity to support you, every other security task can run smoothly.
Participate In the Communities
The best way to stay ahead of updates to open source software is to be on the lookout for any changes made by the development community. Once a bug is fixed, you should consider implementing the fix on your local copy. However, working with a community of software developers goes both ways.
In case you identify an unidentified bug, feel free to make it known to the community. The same should also apply to bug fixes too which you have a better solution. This contribution to the community can help your business be key in the development of the software. Furthermore, you can easily help address issues that are unique to the minority of the software users.
Emphasize On Quality First
Most businesses walk the open source path due to the cost benefits that it promises, and they forget to focus on quality. For instance, OpenSSL was being used by about two-thirds of global servers when the Heartbleed bug was found. It created an opportunity for anyone on the internet to gain access to sensitive data of businesses that were using the vulnerable versions of OpenSSL.
Of course, there is no specified quality standard for rating the quality of open source software, which leaves the role of doing so on your side. Typically, open source software versions will be released while bugs are still present in the system. When choosing to use certain software, it is wise to identify the number of bugs being addressed and identify your tolerance level for these bugs. A high number of commits is synonymous to an active development community and better security.
Prioritize Patch Management
Once patches are made to the software, you should prioritize applying them to your local version. However, it might be wise to test patches first before applying them to reduce the chances of error. The best approach is to have someone in charge of identifying software patches and responding to them. Since attackers move quickly when such bugs are identified, every minute counts towards building a favorable security posture.
The benefits that open source software promises aren’t worth a thing if security risks are quite high. By embracing a zero trust model when using open source software, security breaches can be averted. Consider the tips above to enjoy using such software without having to worry about the risks.