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 newsletter!

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

Tags securityVeracodesoftwaredata protectionapplication developmentDevelopment tools

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

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?