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posted by hubie on Friday March 10 2023, @05:29AM   Printer-friendly

There's never enough time or staff to scan code repositories:

Software dependencies, or a piece of software that an application requires to function, are notoriously difficult to manage and constitute a major software supply chain risk. If you're not aware of what's in your software supply chain, an upstream vulnerability in one of your dependencies can be fatal.

A simple React-based Web application can have upward of 1,700 transitive NodeJS "npm" dependencies, and after a few months "npm audit" will reveal that a relatively large number of those dependencies have security vulnerabilities. The case is similar for Python, Rust, and every other programming language with a package manager.

I like to think of dependencies as decaying fruit in the unrefrigerated section of the code grocer, especially npm packages, which are often written by unpaid developers who have little motivation to put in more than the bare minimum of effort. They're often written for personal use and they're open sourced by chance, not by choice. They're not written to last.

[...] Not all hope is lost. For known (reported and accepted) vulnerabilities, tools exist, such as pip-audit, which scans a developer's Python working environment for vulnerabilities. Npm-audit does the same for nodeJS packages. Similar tools exist for every major programming language and, in fact, Google recently released OSV-Scanner, which attempts to be a Swiss Army knife for software dependency vulnerabilities. Whether developers are encouraged (or forced) to run these audits regularly is beyond the scope of this analysis, as is whether they actually take action to remediate these known vulnerabilities.

However, luckily for all of us, automated CI/CD tools like Dependabot exist to make these fixes as painless as possible. These tools will continually scan your code repositories for out-of-date packages and automatically submit a pull request (PR) to fix them. Searching for "dependabot[bot]" or "renovate[bot]" on GitHub and filtering to active PRs yields millions of results! However, 3 million dependency fixes versus hundreds of millions of active PRs at any given time is an impossible quantification to attempt to make outside of an in-depth analysis.

[...] Did you install your packages from the command line? If so, did you type them in properly? Now that you've installed your dependencies "correctly," did you verify that the code for each dependency does exactly what you think it does? Did you verify that each dependency was installed from the expected package repository? Did you ....

Probably not, and that's OK! It's inhumane to expect developers to do this for every single dependency. The best bet for software developers, software companies, and even individual tinkerers is to have some form of runtime protection/detection. Luckily for us all, there are detection and response tools that have relatively recently been created which are now part of a healthy and competitive ecosystem! Many of them, like Falco, Sysdig Open Source, and Osquery, even have free and open source components. Most even come with a default set of rules/protections.


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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by istartedi on Friday March 10 2023, @11:43PM (1 child)

    by istartedi (123) on Friday March 10 2023, @11:43PM (#1295616) Journal

    I'm pretty sure it was like that at every professional project I worked on. The only thing to add is to make sure that you really can restore from backup. I know that was an exercise I saw at least once--pull backup tape, image raw box, build entire product. No connection to an external repository required. "A company you can hold in your hand", that's how it should be.

    Merging in public changes is a PiTA, a busy-work chore, but the people responsible for it didn't seem to mind too much. There was usually enough "dev" in their "ops" to keep it interesting.

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  • (Score: 2) by turgid on Sunday March 12 2023, @10:54AM

    by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 12 2023, @10:54AM (#1295757) Journal

    My company is moving most stuff to the cloud. I'm looking for a new job.