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How Software Composition Analysis (SCA) Enables Secure and Compliant Open-Source Usage

Software Composition Analysis (SCA) is a critical tool for managing open-source software risks. SCA scans codebases to assess security, licensing compliance, and code quality. It creates a Software Bill of Materials, identifies vulnerabilities, and provides remediation guidance. SCA helps organizations achieve baseline compliance, expose security issues early in the SDLC, and automate open-source tracking processes.

The expanding popularity of open-source software raises new concerns about risky libraries. Organizations have responded by implementing new security technologies, such as software composition analysis, which scans code libraries for vulnerabilities. Organizations may utilize these technologies to decrease risk at the beginning of the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC). 

Historically, corporations monitored these vulnerabilities manually or by sifting through large amounts of code. Both approaches wasted time and resources. Software Composition Analysis (SCA) has emerged as an essential tool for dealing with the increasing complexity of open-source software. SCA quickly and reliably analyses software dependencies for vulnerabilities in security. 

What is Software Composition Analysis? 

The automated technique of identifying open-source software in a codebase is known as Software Composition Analysis (SCA). This study is being conducted to assess security, code quality, and licencing compliance. 

Companies must understand the risks and obligations of open-source licencing. Manually tracking these commitments became too time-consuming, and it frequently overlooked code and its accompanying issues. SCA, an automated solution, was developed and expanded beyond its initial use case to assess code security and quality. 

SCA tools operate by scanning a code base and provide a vulnerability analysis. The study creates a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM), which lists software components and their licencing. Furthermore, the scan inspects files for vulnerable third-party libraries and offers information on open-source dependencies. The SBOM is then compared to other vulnerability databases to identify serious vulnerabilities. Finally, an SCA tool provides remedial recommendations to address potentially damaging vulnerabilities. SCA delivers a comprehensive study of open-source project health data as part of the process. 

SCA may help an organization achieve baseline licence compliance and expose security vulnerabilities if it wants to develop a complete security and compliance baseline. As teams refine their code, they may utilize SCA to verify licence compliance and consistent security. 


Most SCA solutions start with a scan, which produces an inventory report of all open-source components in the product, including direct and transitive dependencies. A complete inventory of all open-source components is essential for regulating your open-source use. After all, it is impossible to safeguard or verify compliance with an unknown component. 

Licence Compliance 

SCA tools provide information on each open-source component after they have been detected. This section discusses open-source licencing, attribution requirements, and if the licence is compatible with the goals of your company. 

Security Vulnerabilities 

Discovering open-source components with known vulnerabilities is one of the key objectives of the SCA tools. Good software composition analysis tools not only tell you whether libraries based on open-source have known vulnerabilities, but also whether your code utilizes the problematic library and, if so, how to remedy it. Furthermore, the solution should identify any open-source libraries in your code base that require updates or modifications. 

SCA can detect several types of vulnerabilities 

When there are defects or weaknesses in the code, open-source vulnerabilities occur. These might be unintentional coding flaws or intentional discrepancies in the code. Attackers can then exploit them to gain unauthorized access to systems, steal data, or cause software or system damage. Vulnerabilities can also be caused by outdated software or unpatched versions of current software. These can lead to security flaws that attackers can exploit to penetrate your programmes and exfiltrate sensitive and valuable data, which can then be disabled and ransomed. 

SCA may also help detect licencing concerns to ensure licencing compliance with any third-party code used. 

Features of Advanced Software Composition Analysis (SCA) 

Advanced SCA systems also offer automatic policy enforcement, which compares every open-source component in your code to organizational regulations and initiates various reactions, such as launching an automated approval procedure or failing the build. 

The open-source selection, approval, and tracking processes are completely automated with modern SCA systems. Some can even alert developers to vulnerabilities in a component before they submit a pull request and allow it to join the system. This saves time and improves development accuracy. 

Software Composition Analysis (SCA) Limitations 

SCA is concerned with detecting and mitigating hazards in open-source components and third-party dependencies. It is not intended to discover flaws in bespoke (original) code. Because older SCA systems were not built to scan development and deployment environments, they are incapable of securing the later stages of your SDLC. Furthermore, some earlier SCA technologies lack the context required to appropriately estimate the risk effect of any errors. Without this context, these technologies might create an excessive number of false positives, using limited resources as security teams make unneeded adjustments. With prioritization capabilities, newer, more current SCA systems have solved this difficulty. 

The influence of new technology on SCA 

Source code, components, and dependencies are increasingly being utilized to construct new software and applications. It is commonly believed that up to 90% of certain organizations’ source code is now open source, implying that the potential attack surface has grown significantly and continues to grow. This raises the likelihood of open-source vulnerabilities and malicious packages entering and attacking software and apps.  As a result, the importance of SCA grows. 

SCA’s Future in Software Development 

Developers, DevOps, and DevSecOps teams are now entrusted with scanning, discovering, and remediating open-source vulnerabilities far earlier in the SDLC. They are relocating security to the left to address and resolve concerns as soon as possible, rather than waiting until the programme is ready for production or delivery. There is a contemporary trend in the development process known as “shifting smart,” which pushes teams to use agile scanning and remediation techniques that rapidly and easily update code wherever it is in the SDLC, while remaining within existing developer workflows. This is something that modern SCA systems can achieve, as well as prioritize vulnerabilities and identify those that may be safely ignored. As a result, contemporary SCA is at the centre of every effective application security approach. 

Detection Is not Sufficient 

As more people utilize open-source software, the number of known open-source vulnerabilities climbs. When you consider how many notifications developers and security professionals receive daily, it all becomes noise. The initial stage is to concentrate entirely on detection. It does not assist organizations in reducing risk. Detection without correction is an insufficient application security model. 

Prioritization and Remediation 

Prioritization – A competent software composition analysis tool should integrate open-source vulnerability prioritization technology. Organizations may prioritize their security vulnerabilities by automatically finding those that provide the most risk. Developers and security experts do not waste time and money reading through pages of warnings to decide which vulnerabilities are most critical, perhaps leaving highly exploitable defects exposed in a production system. 

Remediation – Priority-setting is followed by remediation. Automatic vulnerability remediation does more than just notify developers of the vulnerability; it also offers a solution and gives data on how likely the repair is to affect a build. Automated remediation operations can begin in response to security vulnerability policies initiated by vulnerability discovery, severity, Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) score, or version upgrade. To prevent being exposed to known vulnerabilities, one of the most dependable risk mitigation approaches is to keep your open-source components patched. An excellent SCA solution can assist you with this. 

Advanced SCA technologies, such as repository, browser, and IDE interfaces, integrate easily into the SDLC to identify vulnerabilities early in the process, when they are easier and less expensive to resolve. 

How security can “shift left” in a DevSecOps lifecycle 

One of the primary advantages of the SCA is that security professionals may incorporate it into the early phases of the SDLC. Teams may test projects for vulnerabilities early in the development process before the issues reach the build stage. This reduces total manufacturing costs and protects critical resources. 

Furthermore, IT professionals may utilize SCA to obtain a better understanding of the open-source software used by their organization and to track licences. As a result, SCA solutions can help to expedite the licence management process and enforce security and licence regulations throughout the SDLC. 

Finally, SCA tools bridge the gap between detection and fix by displaying vulnerability locations, rating their effects, and recommending corrective steps. 

Why should you include SCA in your application security portfolio? 

Open-source components have replaced proprietary components as the primary building blocks of software programmes across all industries. Nonetheless, despite the widespread usage of open-source, far too many businesses fail to ensure that their open-source components meet fundamental security requirements and are in accordance with licencing rules. 

It is difficult to secure your application in today’s dynamic digital environment. You are one step closer to lowering your open-source risk with the correct SCA solution. 

SCA is focused on scanning, detecting, and remediating open-source vulnerabilities, which may involve finding and correcting components and dependencies that do not match licence requirements. SCA may assist guarantee that your code base is up to date and completely compliant by locating such issues and versions that meet with licence restrictions. 

OpenSSL Patches Two High Severity Vulnerabilities 

According to OpenSSL, a significant vulnerability will be fixed in version 3.0.7. The vulnerability’s nature and implications could be discussed in detail because the notice was issued a week before it was published. 

After conducting the study, the week before, OpenSSL revised its statement and released version 3.0.7, claiming that what appeared to be a huge vulnerability was severe. The release included a second significant problem. Two buffer overflows that could result in a denial of service are addressed in OpenSSL 3.0.7 by CVE-2022-3786 and CVE-2022-3602. They are relevant to versions 3.0 and higher of OpenSSL, which were released no earlier than September 2021. 

During the X.509 certificate verification process, OpenSSL’s name constraint checking function was vulnerable to buffer overflow vulnerabilities (CVE-2022-3786 and CVE-2022-3602). The severity of these issues was assessed as HIGH. To cause a buffer overflow, it is possible to exploit a certificate that has an intentionally created puny code encoded email address. An incident of denial of service (DoS) may result from a successful exploitation. 

Due to the possibility of remote code execution, CVE-2022-3602 was originally categorized as critical. OpenSSL did learn, however, that some Linux versions made both DOS and RCE difficult, and that more recent systems had stack overflow safeguards that lessened the likelihood of RCE during the prenotification phase. The vulnerability has been upgraded from critical to severe since, in general, the chance of RCE is low but not zero. 


With vulnerabilities and software supply chain assaults on an all-time high, detecting and flagging security flaws in open-source software, which accounts for 80% of all current codebases, is a critical phase in the software development process. As a result, SCA is an indispensable instrument in the arsenal of those fighting the good cause. Software Composition Analysis is more than just a term in the business; it is a crucial discipline that any software development organization should implement. The advantages, which range from greater security to legal compliance and improved code quality, make it an indispensable component of modern software development. 

eInfochips, is a reputable worldwide supplier of product engineering and semiconductor design services. We offer our services to organizations in compliance with OWASP, MITRE, ENISA, NIST, and other security industry standards, regulations, and guidelines. These include hardware testing, firmware testing, secure code review, Software Composition Analysis (SCA), secure SDLC, debugging, vulnerability assessment, and security auditing. Get in touch with us for your security needs. 



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