Code Security in Outsourcing Software Development

Companies from different markets contract out various tasks seeking speed, efficiency, and cost benefits. Most important among these advantages is the potential of savings recognized through outsourcing to other important areas. While leveraging external specialists provides many benefits, the practice also brings considerable threat, specifically in software development.

When thinking about outsourcing of software development, there are a many types of problems to think about. Finding the right mix of skill sets, developing efficient communication among global group members, reaching agreement on best practices, and ensuring the team is aligned on project goals, scope and timeframe are a few. In addition to these challenges, ensuring software security across the global software supply chain is a critical objective for organizations looking for to take advantage of external staffing resources.

Even when hiring reputable, highly skilled external developers, code security is a significant concern and for good reason. Threats to digital security are increasing in prominence and scope, and the last thing executives want for their company is to make headlines along with the words cyberattack, breach or hacked. Heartbleed, Shellshock, Poodle, FREAK Attack, and other recent open source-related vulnerabilities show that open source software, though it offers many advantages on cost and efficiency, is not necessarily more secure than its proprietary counterparts.

 

Achieving Balance

Organizations are scrambling for balance, trying to encourage making use of open source while simultaneously circumventing the risk of software code vulnerabilities. The challenges of managing external software development resources (in particular, those distributed across the globe) make it exponentially harder to identify and address open-source-related code vulnerabilities.

Regardless of industry, global software supply chains are increasing in complexity. At the same time, the process of open source code governance across the software development lifecycle is ending up being more challenging. In fact, for most large business, it’s most likely that their development teams (both internal and external) are leveraging significant amounts of open-source code despite whether senior management totally understands the security, functional and licensing ramifications of its use. This lack of understanding of, and visibility into, open-source use understandably offers senior management pause, specifically when vulnerabilities such as Heartbleed come to light.

Given this, it’s no marvel some companies handle software development labor arbitrage with care. Luckily, automating the management of open-source code throughout software development and the supply chain can assist companies decrease threats while achieving their labor arbitrage objectives adding to their assurance as they consider external options for software development.

 

Automation and the Global Software Supply Chain

Companies today routinely receive, customize and reuse software components through their worldwide software supply chain. As an outcome, making use of automated tools and best practices to gain visibility into providers’ code is becoming more strategically important than ever. The more far-removed the provider or development team, the higher the stakes when it comes to security and licensing threats.

To keep the global software supply chain secure, it’s critical for organizations that are outsourcing software development to identify vulnerabilities associated with open source code as rapidly as possible, so that vendors, providers and other partners can react rapidly and limit possible damage. Automated strategies, incorporated with a dedication to preserving open communications about possible security risks across company boundaries, assistance companies accomplish this goal.

The other benefits of automated, global open source code governance approaches include:

  • Helping developers find and assess the best open source components from among the hundreds of thousands available on the Internet.
  • Maintaining quality when software is built from code assembled from large numbers of external components.
  • Managing code across the application lifecycle, including open-source, third-party and internally sourced code.

 

Responding Faster to Vulnerabilities

With automated approaches to implementing controls in the build process, new open source vulnerabilities can be stopped in their tracks before they enter the production code base and replicate across the software supply chain. The ability to identify open source security vulnerabilities in the existing code base and map recognized problems to code in use (down to the level of specific versions, licenses and level of community activity related to a given open source project) permits organizations to plan, prioritize and schedule remediation efforts. This method helps ensure that jobs proceed on schedule, even provided the inherent challenges of keeping geographically dispersed teams on track.

In addition, automated tools for open source management allow users to monitor on an ongoing basis for future vulnerabilities associated with the existing open source in their code base. Armed with this information, companies can efficiently manage countless applications under development across hundreds of developer teamsâ regardless of where those groups lie.

When thinking about software development outsourcing, it’s reasonable to be careful. But by taking a best-practices method to managing code development across the worldwide software supply chain, organizations can satisfy their cost-savings and efficiency improvement objectives while enabling developers to prevent security mistakes, work faster and smarter, and successfully take advantage of the advantages of open source development.

 

Source: Supply & Demand Chain

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