Software Composition Analysis Explained

Free and Open-Source Software makes up a large portion of any given piece of modern software to reduce the possibility of legal non-compliance, it is critical that each open-source component used in an organization’s initiatives be tracked. Software Composition Analysis (SCA) allows development teams to see exactly which open-source components and libraries are being used by their software. This would also include the detection and elimination of possible vulnerabilities.

This might seem like a daunting task to many; however, organizations do not necessarily need to have the in-house skill to effectively identify and track these open-source components and their security vulnerabilities. Some third-party vendors specialize in the identification and tracking of open-source application components on behalf of the organization, greatly simplifying this process. Vendors would essentially manage the risk that improper management of these open-source components might have on the organization. One such third-party vendor is They specialize in the monitoring of open-source components through security testing of cloud-native applications. As part of your software development lifecycle, they uncover code vulnerabilities and highlight high-risk instances.

To effectively manage open-source code additions with SCA, as a starting point, open-source licenses need to be accurately classified first. Open-source licenses can be placed into either of the following broad categories:

Copyleft licensing

They frequently demand payment or reciprocity in exchange for the component’s and its constituent code’s use. A license may, for example, stipulate that any changes made to the code in a separate development branch be made accessible for inclusion in the master branch of the originating project, or it may limit the component’s use in commercial applications. These licenses are riskier to use in commercial applications since they limit economic value or jeopardize intellectual property confidentiality.

Permissive licensing

Permissive licenses are more in line with the primary notion of open-source software, allowing for innovation without needing any remuneration for the creators. Permissive licenses include fewer limits on how a component’s code can be used, and they provide a lower compliance risk in a company’s software portfolio.

It is essential to the organization’s compliance risk management that an accurate Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) be compiled for each project. The SBOM is a function of SCA.

SCA Process Breakdown

Starting, the SCA solution analyzes a codebase and generates an SBOM of open-source components in use, including their dependencies. The solution keeps track of the metadata relating to identified components, such as license information, component version, and detection location. The completeness of the metadata database against which scan results are reviewed determines the scope and accuracy of the information generated by the SCA solution.

Any connected open-source security issues, such as common vulnerabilities and exposures, are then identified by the SCA solution. Any vulnerabilities or potential license conflicts found in the cloud environment will then automatically be highlighted and security stakeholders and developers are alerted of the condition. Advanced SCA systems can even evaluate each detected open-source component to a set of policies and automatically block or inform stakeholders that aid the remediation process.

Not All SCA Tools Are Created Equally

You should know that not all SCA tools are created equally. You should be on the lookout for SCA tools that have the following characteristics as a minimum benchmark. SCA tools should be able to draw from a wide range of data sources, including proprietary security research. This will greatly improve the chances of correctly identifying components and associating them with known vulnerabilities. To give reliable information on connected vulnerabilities., the open-source database must support various of the more popular development languages in the industry. Your SCA tool should include a wide range of report options and integrations that can assist a variety of possible stakeholders. Finally, prioritization and verification of real hazards can save teams a lot of time and effort, allowing them to promptly resolve problems.

Although security by design should be the first line of protection when it comes to application security, no organization will ever be immune to vulnerabilities. Whether these vulnerabilities are introduced through human error or unreliable third-party code, risk needs to be managed effectively. SCA tools will decrease the risk involved and add to the overall compliance of software projects.

Work done by a Team Of Security Experts from Cyber Writes ( - World’s First Dedicated Content-as-a-Service (CaaS) Platform for Cybersecurity. For Exclusive Cyber Security Contents, Reach at: [email protected]