Applications weakened by third-party code

Twitter's recent vulnerability was caused by third-party code, a problem in the industry

The use of third-party code in applications represents a big security risk for companies, according to a study from security vendor Veracode.

Companies often use code libraries that have been developed from either open-source projects or outsourcing organizations that have been contracted to create applications, said Jason Steer, a solutions architect for Veracode, which specializes in scanning code for vulnerabilities.

Between 30 per cent to 70 per cent of the code in applications come from third parties, which fail to achieve an acceptable level of security up to 81 per cent of the time, according to the study. In general, third-party applications are less secure than internally developed ones on the first submission.

"This is a big problem for our customers," Steer said at the Gartner Security and Risk Management Summit in London on Wednesday.

The problem is exemplified by Twitter, which saw a cross-site scripting flaw exploited on its site on Tuesday. The third-party code enabled a JavaScript function called "onmouseover," Steer said. The command can trigger activity such as a pop-up box appearing, but could also be manipulated with the flaw to redirect a user to a malicious Web site.

The code libraries used by companies in applications are often "nested," meaning they have components developed by others. Once bundled into an application, the code can be difficult to test if it is not open source, Steer said.

This means that companies should be wary of code that hasn't been developed internally.

"Both internal and third-party components and applications must be subjected to the same level of security verification to ensure consistent security across the application portfolio," according to Veracode's report. "Procurement contracts for outsourced or commercial software vendors should insist upon the authority to perform independent security testing and specify minimum security acceptance criteria."

Veracode's latest study assessed the state of application security, drawing data from customers using its data center-based code scanning service, which performed a code-level analysis over the last six months for some 2,922 applications.

Veracode found its customers have been fixing vulnerabilities in their applications faster over the last six month than when it released its first study about a year ago.

Steer said companies are taking only about 16 days to fix problems in their code compared to more than 50 days previously. Third-party suppliers moved even faster.

"Most third-party assessed suppliers also remediated faster than applications on average, with three-quarters of all applications requiring only 11 days to achieve acceptable levels of security quality," Veracode's report said.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Development toolsapplication developmentsecurityVeracodesoftwaredata protection

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?