What is software composition analysis?
Software composition analysis (SCA) is a process of analyzing the third-party libraries and open-source components that are included in a software application. It is designed to identify any vulnerabilities, licenses, or security issues that may be present in these components.
SCA is typically performed as part of the software development process, before the application is released. It can help developers identify and address potential security vulnerabilities or legal issues that may arise from the use of third-party code.
SCA tools are often used to automate this process, by scanning the codebase and generating a report that lists all of the third-party components that are included in the application. This report can then be used to identify any potential issues that need to be addressed before the application is released.
Who uses SCA tools and why?
SCA tools are used by a wide range of organizations and individuals to ensure the security and compliance of software applications and to reduce the risk of data breaches or other security incidents. Here are the main use cases:
SCA tools are primarily used by software developers and organizations that build software applications. They use SCA tools to identify any potential security vulnerabilities or legal issues that may arise from the use of third-party code in their application.
SCA tools are also used by organizations that rely on software applications to run their business, such as banks, healthcare organizations, and eCommerce companies. These organizations use SCA tools to ensure the security and compliance of the software applications they use, and to reduce the risk of data breaches or other security incidents.
SCA tools are also used by government agencies and regulatory bodies, which often have strict requirements for the security and compliance of software applications.
Common features of SCA products
SCA tools can offer a wide range of features, depending on the specific tool and the needs of the user. Some common features that may be offered by SCA tools include:
- Component scanning: The ability to scan a software application and identify all of the third-party libraries and open-source components that are included in it.
- Vulnerability detection: The ability to identify any known vulnerabilities in the third-party libraries and open-source components that are included in the application.
- License compliance: The ability to identify any potential issues with the licenses of the third-party components that are included in the application, such as compatibility with the user’s own license or potential legal issues.
- Security alerts: The ability to receive alerts when new vulnerabilities or other security issues are discovered in the third-party libraries and open-source components that are included in the application.
- Integration with other tools: The ability to integrate with other tools, such as build systems or version control systems, to streamline the SCA process.
- Custom policies: The ability to create custom policies to specify the types of third-party components that are allowed or prohibited in the application.
- Risk assessment: The ability to assess the overall risk level of the application based on the vulnerabilities and other issues that are identified.
SCA market definition, direction and trends
SCA tools play a crucial role in managing open-source dependencies and supporting open-source software governance efforts. These tools are commonly used to identify and analyze the third-party libraries and components used in a software application, with the goal of identifying any security vulnerabilities or license compliance issues that may exist.
One of the key benefits of SCA tools is that they can help organizations evaluate the operational risks associated with open-source software. There are several types of operational risks that organizations need to be aware of when using open-source software, including:
- Package viability: Some open-source packages may become unmaintained over time, which can lead to security vulnerabilities or other issues that are not addressed. Using SCA tools can help organizations identify any packages that are no longer actively maintained and choose alternatives that are more reliable.
- Compromise: Some open-source packages may be compromised by malicious actors, who can introduce vulnerabilities or malicious code into the package. Using SCA tools can help organizations identify any known vulnerabilities or compromises in the packages they are using.
- Malicious code: In some cases, open-source packages may contain malicious code that is designed to cause harm to the application or to the organization. SCA tools can help organizations identify any known instances of malicious code in the packages they are using.
These risks can lead to supply chain attacks, in which an attacker targets a vulnerable component in the software supply chain in order to compromise the software or steal sensitive data. Using SCA tools can help organizations identify and address any vulnerabilities or issues in their open-source dependencies, reducing the risk of a supply chain attack.
Factors driving SCA market growth
There are several reasons for the increasing adoption of SCA tools, including:
- Focus on application security: As the importance of protecting against cyber threats has increased, there has been a greater focus on ensuring that software applications are secure. SCA tools can help organizations identify and fix any security vulnerabilities that may exist in the third-party libraries and components used in their applications.
- Concerns about operational risks and supply chain attacks: The use of open-source software can introduce a number of operational risks, including the possibility of package compromise, malicious code, and supply chain attacks. SCA tools can help organizations identify and mitigate these risks.
- Creation of software bill of materials: A software bill of materials (SBOM) is a list of all of the components used in a software application, including information on their licenses and any known vulnerabilities. SCA tools can help organizations create an SBOM, which can be useful for managing operational risks and demonstrating compliance with regulations.
- Need for enhanced open-source software governance: As the use of open-source software has increased, so has the need for effective governance to ensure that it is used in a secure and compliant manner. SCA tools can help organizations manage their use of open-source software and ensure that they are in compliance with relevant regulations and policies.
According to Gartner, fewer than 50% of organizations have adopted SCA tools at this time, but adoption is expected to increase steadily in the coming years. This trend is likely to be driven in part by the U.S. government’s recent Executive Order on Cybersecurity, which requires IT vendors to provide an SBOM when selling products to the government. This requirement is likely to increase demand for SCA tools as organizations seek to comply with the new regulations.
In conclusion, the Software Composition Analysis (SCA) market is experiencing significant growth as organizations increasingly recognize the importance of identifying and managing the third-party libraries and components used in their software applications. SCA tools can help organizations ensure that their software is secure and compliant, reducing the risk of legal issues, financial penalties, and supply chain attacks.
With fewer than 50% of organizations having adopted SCA tools at this time, there is significant potential for further growth in the market. The U.S. government’s recent Executive Order on Cybersecurity, which requires IT vendors to provide a software bill of materials, is likely to drive further adoption of SCA tools as organizations seek to comply with the new regulations.