- 96% of known-vulnerable open source downloads are still avoidable, highlighting again, suboptimal consumption behaviors as the root of open source risk
- Teams receive a 2x boost in efficiency when using better upgrade recommendations and better security data, for performing dependency management
October 3, 2023 – DevOps Enterprise Summit - Las Vegas – Sonatype, the pioneer of software supply chain management, today released its 9th Annual State of the Software Supply Chain Report. This year’s report highlights alarming open source software (OSS) and software supply chain security trends, while also looking at how arming developers with better, more consistent development tools and best practices can save them and their organizations a significant amount of time and money. Noteworthy findings in the report include:
- 2023 saw twice as many software supply chain attacks as 2019-2022 combined: Sonatype logged 245,032 malicious packages in 2023. One in eight open source downloads today pose known and avoidable risks.
- Nearly all (96%) vulnerabilities are still avoidable: 2.1 billion OSS downloads with known vulnerabilities in 2023 could have been avoided because a better, fixed version was available – the exact same percentage as in 2022. For every suboptimal component upgrade made, there are typically 10 superior versions available.
- Only 11% of open source projects are ‘actively maintained’: Sonatype analyzed 1,176,407 open source projects across four major ecosystems and saw an 18% decline in ‘actively maintained’ open source projects. The finding demonstrates the importance of constant vigilance from consumers in tracking the health of dependencies over time. The report once again highlights suboptimal open source consumption habits as the root cause of open source risk, contrary to public discourse often linking security risk with open source maintainers. In fact, the report demonstrates that maintainers, on average, promptly address and resolve issues.
“A lot of maintainers are very diligent – Big Tech companies go out of their way to hire talented people to maintain libraries they rely on,” says Brian Fox, CTO at Sonatype. “Our industry needs to direct its efforts towards the right place. The fact that there’s been a fix for almost all downloads of components with a known vulnerability tells us an immediate focus should be supporting developers on becoming better decision-makers, and giving them access to the right tools. The goal is to help developers be more intentional about downloading open source software from projects with the most maintainers and the healthiest ecosystem of contributors. This will not only create safer software, but also recoup nearly two weeks of wasted developer time each year."
Amidst rising software supply chain attacks, there’s also a continued disconnect between perceived security and reality in software development:
- Organizations think they have their software supply chains under control: 67% of respondents feel confident that their applications do not rely on known vulnerable libraries. Yet, nearly 10% of respondents reported their organizations had security breaches due to open source vulnerabilities in the last 12 months.
- Awareness and mitigation of open source vulnerabilities lacks urgency in many organizations: The report found that 39% of organizations discover vulnerabilities within one to seven days; 29% take over a week to become aware and 28% discover within one day; When it comes to mitigation, 36.2% of respondents require over a week to mitigate vulnerabilities.
Developers play a pivotal role in driving progress, innovation, and excellence. Findings this year further highlight the direct relationship between developer productivity and access to superior tools and high-quality open source components. While investigating solutions for reducing security risks and time wasting, Sonatype discovered that:
- Open source projects that are consistently maintained outperformed their counterparts on critical software security best practices. Compared to less-maintained libraries, consistently maintained projects tend to score:
- 5.9x higher on SAST
- 5.4x higher on Signed Releases
- 5.1x higher on Dependency Update Tools
- 3.6x higher on Code Review
- 3.8x higher on Branch Protection
- Optimal dependency management saves time, money, and decreases security risk: When teams use better security data that reduce false positive findings by 25%, in combination with making optimal upgrade decisions, each team saves a total 1.5 months of time, per application, per year. This equates to a 2X boost in time saved over just making optimal upgrades.
“Impactful change necessitates clear direction,” adds Fox. “For both better and worse, today’s software organizations face an overwhelming amount of options for addressing these issues – from a multitude of frameworks to weekly governmental guidance, and more. All that choice is ripe to create paralysis, making it hard to get started.”
Among the spike in software supply chain vulnerabilities, there are signs of developers taking measures to improve efficiencies and security posture. The report shows the use of AI/ML components in software development surging by 135% in less than a year, largely owing to the massive efficiencies the technology affords software developers, in addition to how quickly AI/ML components can be integrated into software development workflows. That said, developers and organizations face significant challenges in developing their own AI products.
“While AI/ML technology has become more accessible than ever, there are still significant implementation challenges. Developers and data scientists have to choose from hundreds of thousands of options for models and libraries,” says Stephen Magill, Vice President of Innovation at Sonatype. “Choosing open source solutions comes with all of the familiar requirements around managing open source security risk. Choosing proprietary solutions can come with high costs. And in both cases, licensing of both the models and the model outputs can be very uncertain.”
To read the full report, visit sonatype.com/state-of-the-software-supply-chain.
Note to Editors:
Sonatype is the software supply chain management company. Recognized by globally renowned analysts as a leader in the industry, Sonatype enables organizations to innovate faster in a highly competitive market. We allow engineers to develop software fearlessly and focus on building products that power businesses. Sonatype researchers have analyzed more than 120 million open source components – 40x more than its competitors – and the Sonatype platform has automatically blocked over 245,000 malicious components from entering developers’ code. Enabling high-quality, secure software helps organizations meet their business needs and those of their customers and partners. More than 2,000 organizations, including 70% of the Fortune 100 and 15 million software developers, rely on our tools and guidance to be ambitious, move fast and do it securely. To learn more about Sonatype, please visit www.sonatype.com.