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Image: Time to Prep for Better Open Source & Third-Party Software Management

Open source software (OSS) is a wonderful resource that streamlines development and increases the reliability of your project. However, the price of using OSS is being able to manage it effectively. As your business is delivering software applications to market, it is your responsibility to ensure what you deliver does not come with security risks.

Luckily, it’s never too late to prepare for better open source and third-party component management. Compliance is never perfect; there will always be more to do. Instead of letting this factor deter you, understand that management is about continual improvement. The sooner you begin, the easier things will get and the more reliable you become for your customers and stakeholders.

Formulating a plan and getting started will help your company build in the right direction. Let’s dive into the best ways of preparing to manage open source and third-party software.

How To Get Started with Open Source & Third-Party Software Management

Open source management and compliance can appear to be a massive task, and one that quickly becomes difficult to do manually. Especially when conducting a procedure like creating license notices, doing so manually is an arduous and often boring process. The first step that any company – small or large – should take is implementing a commercial software composition analysis (SCA) tool for open source and third-party component tracking.

An automatic SCA solution tool decreases the total amount of time that license and security risk management will take you. Be sure to select a tool that will enable you to produce a comprehensive SBOM. With this in place, you’ll have a much more effective framework to work from, helping you to get on top of open source management and compliance.

Once your company has started using an SCA solution, there are a few critical process steps to build into your strategic approach. Here are five core strategies that your company can employ to better prepare:

  • Triage Issues – When remediating compliance and security problems, an easy method that helps get the ball rolling is to triage based on criticality. Your SCA solution should help categorize issues. This framework will give you a better idea of where to begin, helping to turn a large problem into manageable segments.
  • Be Proactive – After finding a tool that works for your business, make sure to integrate it into the heart of your DevOps processes. Instead of a second thought, make the production and accuracy of your SBOM a main priority. Incorporating this into your development process will convert open source and third-party software management into a continuous effort, not a frantic sprint.
  • Turn to Education – Especially for smaller companies, your employees may not fully understand the need for open source software management and compliance. Without clarity, this can lead to the process being ignored or forgotten. By creating education programs where you explain the importance of setting policies and following them, you can holistically improve awareness within your company.
  • Start on the Highest Level – Starting at the highest level allows you to find the correct framework for your business. From there, you can slot in the most appropriate solution, be it personal analysis, automation, etc. By architecting a solution like this, you avoid the cost of implementing a solution that isn’t a perfect fit for your business.
  • Engage with Policy – Without policy in place that dictates how you will use your data, no matter how many scans you run and how much information you collect, it won’t be effective. Understanding how you are going to process your data, how often you’ll run scans, what you’ll scan, and where you’ll begin, is vital for success in open source software management.

By using these solutions, combined with an automated tool that helps you to manage and track open source software, you’re in a much better position to deal with compliance on a large scale.

To learn more about open source compliance and the software supply chain, be sure to tune in to this short panel discussion about open source management trends.