How to Best Use Open-Source Code

By Hardik Savani November 5, 2023 Category : PHP

Using open-source code is incredibly popular today due to how it allows developers to finish and deploy applications quickly. If you don’t have an understanding of the risks involved with open-source code, it could cause more trouble than harm.

This post covers some factors to keep in mind when using open-source code to ensure that you can use it beneficially. Once you have a better idea about the risks involved and the things to practice to correctly use it, open-source code can be an excellent tool to use.

Set Policies

One of the best things you can do for yourself when using open-source code is to set policies. Organizations that don’t set policies leave themselves more exposed to security issues.

Developers that have policies to stick to when using open-source elements can ensure that the code being used is approved and safe to use.

Companies often have an approval system in place that means developers must get approval for open-source code before being allowed to use it. Changes being made to the code should also go through an approval process to make sure all guidelines are being met.

In addition to this, the third-party components have to go through an auditing process. This ensures that developers are given details about the licenses involved with the code to make sure that they adhere to the guidelines before including them in an application.

Automatic Audit Tools

Security automation is something that all organizations strive for. It helps companies keep their applications secure while also ensuring that developers can continue working efficiently.

Automatic audit tools are one of the elements that companies implement to achieve security automation. These tools scan through third-party libraries to find security updates that haven’t been completed.

Vulnerabilities within applications often stem from elements that are out of date. This is especially the case when it comes to using open-source code. Automatic audit tools help developers discover whether the open-source code that they’re interested in needs to be updated before being used. This can prevent a lot of problems later down the line.

While these automatic tools can be great for giving your information about the status of security updates, they don’t always pick up on everything. This is because these tools work to find updates and security risks that are already known.

Therefore, you should still be aware that even if an open-source library comes back with no issues, there could still be security update problems that are unknown.

Using a Register

It’s important to keep track of how many open-source elements you’re using. If you start to lose track, you may find that certain libraries miss updates or don’t get properly scanned for vulnerabilities.

An easy way to keep everything organized is to create a register. You can use registers to list all of the open-source elements that you’re using, the projects that they’re being used in, as well as the versions that are being used.

It may also be a good idea to note where they can be downloaded in case you want to access the code again but in its original form. Developers should also be in the habit of making documents that include what open-source elements have been used.

Open-source registers are beneficial for helping you have a clear understanding of what code is being used and where. Including details about the vulnerabilities of the open-source code that you’re using is also a good idea.

You can retrieve this information from databases such as the NVD (National Vulnerability Database). Knowing what the vulnerabilities to the code are before you use it can help you carry out a risk assessment to discover whether you think the component is safe to use.

This may feel like a tedious process due to how there are always new security risks being found. However, it’s better to stay on top of knowing what the vulnerabilities are before you use the code rather than finding out when it’s already inside an application that has been deployed.

Update Open-Source Code

Regularly updating open-source code should be standard practice. Out-of-date code is more vulnerable to being exploited by hackers due to how they contain more vulnerabilities. Hackers often target code that’s out of date because it’s easier to infiltrate.

Be sure to keep a close eye out for when updates are ready for your open-source components. It helps to add another layer of security against cybercriminals gaining access to your network.

Furthermore, you should check the updates for third-party elements that you’re interested in using beforehand. If the library hasn’t been updated for a while, it could carry a larger risk for vulnerabilities and it could be a red flag for you to avoid it.

Open-Source Licenses

Being aware of what licenses are being used for open-source elements that you’re interested in using is vital. There are various types of licenses and it’s important to ensure that you comply with these licenses when using the open-source code.

Organizations that don’t check licenses or adhere to them can find themselves in legal problems. So, be sure to save yourself the hassle of litigation and know what licenses are available for the open-source content that you want to use.

Keeping on top of open-source licenses is an ongoing process. There are so many different kinds of licenses for different third-party libraries. Therefore, developers must understand that compliance with these licenses is a constant process.


Open-source code being used in applications can help developers deliver projects much quicker. It also encourages collaboration between developers which can lead to more innovative ideas.

However, open-source code can also create serious issues if developers aren’t aware of the various risks involved. It can cause compliance and vulnerability problems. However, once you have a better understanding of the risks of open-source components, you can feel confident about using them to finish projects faster.

Hopefully, the details found throughout our post have proven to be useful in helping you to feel more assured about using open-source components confidently.

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