Developing a Mobile App Using Open Source Software? Consider These Tips For Security
Today, almost every IT organization (including the Fortune 500 companies) use an open source software. Many developers have been able to resolve several issues associated with web development, by accessing open-source repositories such as Github and others. This help users from having to write code from scratch. Despite of the advantages of open-source software, many developers remain confused as to whether they should choose an open source for web development or not. This is because many such softwares are often exposed to cyber security vulnerabilities.
Through this post, I’ll like to help you know about a few simple tips that will help in maintaining the security of your mobile app development project. But let us before have a quick view on: if open-source software is safe to use or not.
Is Open Source Software Secure and Safe To Use?
The best thing about an open source software is that it helps provide users the ability to access and examine the basic source code. Since the code can be viewed by many eyes (i.e. multiple users), an open-source software is believed to be a much better option compared to its closed alternatives. However, noted computer security and privacy expert Bruce Schneier argues using open source code when it comes to security.
According to Bruce, “open source doesn’t sound compatible with the idea of strong cybersecurity.”
But, on the other hand, many traditional responses related to security concerns associated with open source has been that: since many people can look at the source code, potential vulnerabilities or bugs will be naturally eradicated.
No wonder, reading both the above statements will leave you perplexed about using open source software. However, with the rise in threats to software in real-world, it does not make sense to using a software solution if it poses a possible threat to security.
But, then again considering the fact that many small size businesses and organization make use of open-source software since it provides them with a quick and cheap way to meet their project deadlines, one can’t completely ignore using an open source solution.
Tips to Ensure Open-Source Software Security For Mobile App Development
Here are a few easy-to-follow tips that you must adhere to when using an open-source software for developing a mobile app, to ensure producing a secure end product:
1. Pick an open source software maintained by some noted foundation/governance model.
You can find many well-recognized foundations/governing bodies, such as the likes of the Apache Software Foundation, that host open-source projects. Making use of an open source software belonging to any of such organizations will enable you to access critical information about stakeholders, licenses used and so on. Moreover, a software that is backed by a known organizational body is usually kept updated to ward off potential vulnerabilities.
2. Conduct a security scan on open source code at basic level.
Before using the open source code in your mobile application development process, make sure to perform an initial scan on that code. This will help you know if your code contains security vulnerabilities, or not. You can choose to scan the source code either manually or using an automated tool (i.e. a scanning software that helps monitor code for bugs).
3. Review source code snippets for continuous development.
Next, when using an open source code for your next mobile application development project, make sure to implement a “pre-approval workflow” for your open source software to review code for bugs. Luckily, there are a few open source platforms such as Phabricator that helps submit code snippets to be reviewed for vulnerabilities, before the code is being used in the app development process. You can also make use of any commercial software solution that enables you to execute workflow approval processes for an open-source software that ensures app development using larger teams. Not to mention, the more people will test your open source solution for security risks, the more bugs you will be able to find quickly and efficiently.
4. Go for tools that helps scan vulnerabilities in source code real-time.
Lastly, look out for effective tools that helps perform real-time scanning of code, as it will help detect hidden security vulnerabilities that can break your app and tarnish its reputation by disclosing users’ personal data. It is recommended that you should consider using databases such as the “National Vulnerability Database” (NVD) or others when it comes to accessing an open source software for finding vulnerability in code. Besides, you can use automated tools to scan the code used in your apps for bugs, and can get real-time alerts when any vulnerability is detected.
There is no disputing the fact that an open-source software can be of great help for businesses and developers, seeking to develop a mobile app project quickly without writing code from scratch. However, it is important that you follow the aforementioned tips to ensure the security of your end product against vulnerabilities that are found in open source solutions.
Rick Brown is an application developer working with Mobiers Ltd, a leading mobile application development services provider. He provides concrete information on latest technologies like iOS, Android mobile apps development.