Responding To New Open Source Vulnerability Disclosures

The first way to track your dependencies is by attaching directly to your source code management (SCM) platform, such as GitHub, BitBucket, or GitLab. When using an SCM, there is almost always a "master" branch that represents the code currently deployed to production, including the dependency-related manifest files.

Monitoring dependencies in SCM is elegant and powerful. It enables great prevention and remediation capabilities, as discussed in previous chapters, and allows for automated remediation pull requests, as I’ll explain shortly. I highly recommend monitoring the dependencies used via SCM integration. That said, monitoring source code can sometimes be inaccurate, due to several scenarios.

First, as I’ve explained in Chapter 2, source code scanning requires the testing tool to approximate what would be the eventual dependency tree. This approximation can be very accurate (depending on the tool you use), but it’s not as perfect as testing a built app, especially in platforms that do not use a lock file or applications using a more complex build flow.

Second, source code is always a few steps ahead of deployed code. By definition, you modify your source code, test and evolve it, and then deploy. In the fastest scenario, merges to the master branch are immediately rolled out, meaning the master source code branch is just minutes (or even seconds) ahead of the deployed code. Most setups, however, are not quite that fast, allowing source code to evolve for hours, days, or weeks before deploying it. Therefore, if you’re monitoring your dependencies in SCM, you may be monitoring tomorrow’s dependencies and be blind to vulnerability disclosures that affect the libraries used in production today.

Lastly, monitoring source code doesn’t capture potential complexity in how you deployed code in the past. Are you using a canary version of your code to test out new changes? Do you have an older version of the application deployed to support a large historic customer? Did someone manually publish a modified version of your app to some machine when addressing an ops problem? Source code monitoring would remain blind to such scenarios.

Fundamentally, monitoring dependencies by integrating into your SCM is a great first step, as it’s the easiest and most elegant integration into your developer’s workflow, and greatly simplifies prevention and remediation steps. However, to be fully protected, you should also monitor dependencies in deployed code.

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Responding to new open source vulnerability disclosures
Cisco Opens Up Vulnerability Disclosure With OpenVuln API
Cisco stre...tches vulnerability disclosure timeline out to 90 days
Xen Project asks to limit security vulnerability advisories
GM embraces white-hat hackers with public vulnerability disclosure program
FreeBSD Patched Against Buffer Overflow Vulnerability
Equifax breach shows why companies need to act against known vulnerabilities
For Open-Source Software, the Developers Are All of Us
How Open Source Development Is Becoming More Social