Do Your Apps Use Third-Party Components? Scan Your Code

Apr 19, 2024

Many software projects incorporate third-party components to add specific functionality. One of the biggest problems IT teams face is keeping up with what’s being used. Without a rigorous framework governing their use, one can end up with a Wild West of applications full of security vulnerabilities. Let’s explore the use of third-party components, the risks they bring, and the benefits of application security testing.  

💻 Why Do Developers Use Third-Party Components? 

For most programmers, using third-party components is a no-brainer. Why spend time reinventing the wheel when there’s code available to do what’s needed? If the programmer takes the time to review a component and ensures that adding it doesn’t introduce bugs into an application, then it’s a smart move. Many popular third-party libraries undergo constant reviews and receive frequent bug fixes and updates.  

Other advantages to using pre-built code frameworks include: 

  • Saving Money — Third-party components allow organizations to leverage existing solutions at a lower cost. This is helpful for coders working at a small business with a limited development budget. 
  • Better Quality — Open-source components tested by a community of developers can result in higher-quality code. Programmers benefit from using this collective knowledge and expertise to improve their software. 
  • Flexibility — Many open-source third-party components offer a high degree of flexibility. In addition to providing an excellent out-of-the-box solution for common development problems, developers can customize the components to meet specific requirements.

⚠️ What Risks Do They Present? 

Using third-party components introduces code written by other people, and that carries an inherent amount of risk. Let’s look at some of what you need to be aware of when using these resources.

Loss of control 

Open-source third-party components typically allow for a significant degree of customization. However, that isn’t always true for those obtained through licensed vendors. They may limit the changes programmers can make, limiting their ability to customize the component to fit the application.  

Security Risks 

Third-party libraries also have the potential to introduce new vulnerabilities into the application, such as buffer overflows, injection flaws, or the ability to bypass authentication. Hackers look for holes like these to steal data or find ways to compromise other systems.  

Malicious actors may also inject malicious code into third-party components. These tainted libraries get used by unsuspecting developers, leading to widespread security breaches in various applications.  

Some components may inadvertently execute malicious code because they haven’t been adequately vetted. Vulnerabilities like cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection attacks, code injection, or remote code execution (RCE) let attackers manipulate application behavior, compromising security.  

License Compliance 

A license governs the most popular third-party components. A developer must understand the licensing conditions and adhere to the terms to avoid being out of compliance. That could result in legal action and time-consuming remediation efforts that cost a lot of time and money.  

Dependency Management 

Suppose a third-party provider starts having performance issues or experiences downtime that directly impacts the application’s reliability. Programmers must consider the ripple effects that external services will have and have backup plans in place. Developers may also face problems because of the complex relationships between third-party frameworks and other dependencies.  

If software relies upon many third-party components with individual sets of dependencies, it’s easy to end up in a frustrating maintenance situation. That leads to a tangled web that’s hard to troubleshoot or manage. One third-party component may have compatibility issues with others, leading to a lot of maintenance overhead.  

Integration Challenges 

Some third-party components rely on exchanging information with other systems or components. One may encounter issues integrating a component with existing data sources, messaging protocols, or APIs. That’s more time developers must spend enforcing interoperability across different elements to ensure the application’s integrity.  

Adding third-party components can hamper performance and make scaling up an application more manageable. Issues can include difficulty handling more oversized loads, increased traffic, or keeping an application responsive when usage increases.  

🔎 The Role of Code Scanning 

With the number of third-party libraries available, it’s hard for one or even a team of developers to manually ensure each one’s security. Code scanning, also called static code analysis (SCA), is an essential element of open-source code management DevSecOps.  The practice involves using application security tools to review source code for potential security vulnerabilities, compliance issues, and coding errors.  

Application security best practices call for static application security testing (SAST) early in the development cycle. This practice doesn’t require a working application and allows developers to detect and fix issues before passing code to the next stage of the software development life cycle (SDLC).  

Platforms like Kiuwan automate code scanning, making it easier for developers to evaluate third-party components and locate problems quickly: 

  • Performing Vulnerability Detection — Code scanning tools like Kiuwan check against databases containing Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) entries. That helps developers find and remediate vulnerabilities more quickly.   
  • Ensuring License Compliance — Kiuwan checks the configuration settings of third-party components to find misconfigurations that could lead to security risks, preventing cyber attacks that could lead to data breaches.  
  • Improving Code Quality — Code scanning tools analyze third-party components for issues like code duplication, complexity, and compliance with coding standards. This helps developers improve code through refactoring to improve maintainability and performance.  
  • Executing Integration Testing — One of the benefits of platforms like Kiuwan is the ability to simulate the performance of third-party components. That lets developers test how they interact with other systems and software components under real-world conditions. It also helps find problems like data format discrepancies, API mismatches, and compatibility issues. That allows developers to resolve third-party component integration issues at the start of the development cycle, reducing the chances of runtime errors.  

🚀 Kiuwan Is Your Partner Third-Party Component Security 

Kiuwan’s powerful end-to-end application security platform helps developers ensure the performance of third-party components. It allows for obfuscation, which conceals important details within an application, preventing bad actors from reverse-engineering the software.  

.NET Developers can use Dotfuscator, which integrates easily with other software components to provide optimal security protection. Combining Kiuwan and obfuscation allows developers to implement an optimal security strategy.  Scanning third-party components prevents issues that can lead to costly cyber attacks. Tools like Kiuwan are crucial for coders who are considering introducing the software to places like the Play Store or Apple Store. Set up a free trial to learn more about Kiuwan’s benefits.

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