Is Open-Source Software Safe?

Is open-source software safe even though its source code is publicly accessible? Here's what you need to know about the best practices for using it securely.

Marcel Deer - Writer for Unleash
By Marcel Deer
a man in a white shirt is posing for a picture
Edited by Jovan Mijailović

Published September 28, 2023.

Open-source software (OSS) is free to utilize, study, modify, and distribute—which attracts a large community of users and developers who produce, test, and promote its use.

But does such access make open-source software safe?

Understanding Open-Source Software

Open-source software’s code is in a public repository that anyone around the globe can access and modify. Other advantages include:

  • Transparency
  • Customization
  • Community-driven innovation

Security in Open-Source Software

Open-source software does have some security measures:

  • Transparency and peer review: The source code is publicly accessible for detailed examination.
  • Rapid response to vulnerabilities: It is easy to respond to threats because anybody can modify the source code.
  • Diverse developer skill set: As community-backed software, many developers with varied experience levels contribute to its creation, enhancing security.

Common Concerns and Counterarguments

Still, some people remain unsure whether open-source software is safe. They are concerned about a perceived lack of accountability because of bottom-up rather than top-down community management. Open-source software also has upstream supply chain vulnerabilities because of the nature of its distribution.

3 Best Practices for Using Open-Source Software Securely

Follow these steps to use open-source software safely:

1. Vetted sources and repositories: Only use open-source software from trusted developers.

2. Regular updates & patches: Be sure you have the latest version of any open-source software.

3. Community engagement: Inspect the community to gauge support and engagement.

Embracing Open-Source Software Securely: A Continuously Strengthening Path

Unleash is an enterprise search engine that can boost your project’s productivity when working with open-source software. It searches every folder and application to find the source code you need from the repository, streamlining your productivity.