In the current era, open source is no longer a new concept in the world of software. Cloud computing utilizes OpenStack, Linux is a major open source operating system and many companies have access to a wide range of end-user open source solutions ranging from WordPress to OpenOffice. Even if the open source scripts are desirable and come without any price tags, they are not risk free!
Here is the critical information that every company / individual needs to know about using an open source software:
Getting Exposed To Vulnerabilities
It is estimated that more than 70% of the most prominent websites using WordPress for operating their blogs are basically using versions that comprise of security vulnerabilities. The default configurations of WordPress prior to version 3.6.1 do not prevent the upload of *.exe files. With an open source platform it becomes easy for the hackers to get into the admin authentication privileges. It is also possible to submerge some WordPress deployments through brute-force login attempts or injection of SQL commands through any URL.
This whole issue boils down to one thing – the nature of technology. Hackers will always try to find methods for compromising the software irrespective of whether it is open source or proprietary. However, open source presents with a special condition as the deployments usually provide with minimum technical support and the users can make customizations to the code as per their preference. You will often find many open source codes posted on the forums and communities and the users can download or copy/paste the data and then use it on the company networks. With very less effort, hackers can interject rootkits any other type of malware into an open source software.
Check Twice And Install Once
The easiest way of testing an open source code before operating or installing it on the official company network is to utilize a web based vulnerability scanner. ‘Nessus’ is a proprietary scanner that analyzes the open source scripts for making sure that they don’t comprise of any malicious lines of code. ‘Wapiti’ is a free web based scanner that executes the similar function. These scanners first scan the web pages of the deployed open source applications and then make an attempt to add the data. This process is known as ‘fuzzing’, it helps in identifying the vulnerabilities if any.
Important Aspects Using Open Source Software
The open source software platform has a great future. The most prominent and popular global companies are behind implementing cloud-computing techniques. Many web hosting services also provide access to a wide range of open source scripts that can be directly accessed through the consumer control panels. In order to ensure that the script you are using is the safest available option, it’s worth following some best practices. Updating the version of the open source software you are using to the latest one is also extremely crucial. The main reason behind this is that the new versions are improvised and the security fails in the earlier versions are corrected in the new ones. Although the open source software is available for free, there might still be some indirect costs such as paying for the external support. Using an open source platform means that there are many people around the world who are identifying the bugs and updating them; however, this also means that there are malicious users who can get to the code and plan the hacking attacks.
First and the most important aspect is making sure that the open source software that you are planning to use is provided by a reputable and reliable vendor (may be a web host) or you are downloading it from the official website. Next important thing is, never take code for granted! no matter how small it is, and also don’t assume it to be secure! no matter how famous it is. The big players like WordPress offer immediate and easy access to the tools and apps, however they are not invincible.
It is true that using open source tools can help in significantly reducing the cost without compromising on the functionality. In order to get the best out of these open source scripts, it is important to ensure diligence in procurement and be careful with customizing the code.
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