Linux Foundation Lists Top Open Source Libraries

The Linux Foundation today published a report that provides access to eight lists of the top 500 open source libraries being used by organizations as part of an ongoing effort to help better secure software supply chains.

The Census II of Free and Open Source Software—Application Libraries report is based on usage data from providers of software composition analysis (SCA) tools such as Snyk, the Synopsys Cybersecurity Research Center (CyRC) and FOSSA. The report itself was compiled by the Harvard Lab for Innovation Science.

The eight lists are made up of four that include version numbers and four that are version agnostic. The lists are separated into npm and non-npm packages because npm packages would dominate any ranking created. The top non-npm packages being employed include maven, nugget, Go and cargo.

Frank Nagle, assistant professor at Harvard Business School, said the report is intended to provide organizations with some guidance in terms of knowing what open source packages are used in the wake of recent vulnerabilities discovered in the widely employed Log4j software used to manage logs within Java applications.

Many of the organizations impacted by that vulnerability were unaware of just how widely shared Log4j was within their enterprise IT organizations. IT organizations should evaluate the sustainability of those projects in terms of the number of contributors and maintainers that are working to ensure the security of those libraries.

One of the biggest challenges is to find a way to standardize naming schema for software components and the overall management of versions of different libraries, noted Nagle.

Ultimately, the goal is to convince more enterprise IT organizations—and the vendors that support them—to make more resources available to secure those libraries, noted Nagle. Much of the most widely used open source software is developed and maintained by only a handful of contributors. Many of those contributors argue that, while they made that software available for free, it is the responsibility of the organizations employing it to secure it.

The Linux Foundation is moving to become a conduit through which it will make available additional resources to help better secure open source software. The Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF), a consortium hosted at the Linux Foundation, earlier this week announced that 19 additional organizations have joined OpenSSF to help identify and fix security vulnerabilities in open source software and improve tooling, training, research, best practices and vulnerability disclosure practices.

Brian Behlendorf, executive director at OpenSSF, said in addition to making resources available, it’s clear there is a need for some form of a third-party audit of open source software as organizations are more broadly employing that software across their software supply chains.

New premier member commitments to OpenSSF are now coming from 1Password, Citi, Coinbase, Huawei Technologies, JFrog and Wipro. New general member commitments are being made by Accuknox, Alibaba Cloud, Block, Inc., Blockchain Technology Partners, Catena Cyber, Chainguard, DeployHub, Gravitational Inc., MongoDB, NCC Group, ReversingLabs, Spotify and Wingtecher Technology. New associate members include Institute of Software, the Chinese Academy of Science (ISCAS), MITER and OpenUK.

Other efforts led by the OpenSSF include an Alpha-Omega Project to better secure open source security posture, scorecards that identify risks of the dependencies within more than one million projects, multi-factor authentication tokens and a Project Sigstore initiative to sign, verify and protect open source code.

It may be a while before open source software achieves the level of security the IT industry strives for. On the plus side, however, there have never been more resources dedicated to achieving that goal.

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