Security Solutions

How the context of your code bases can affect the security of your applications

Organizations today need agility to deliver better services, meet changing requirements, and seize new opportunities. Applications are what provides businesses with the needed advantage to compete and win in the current digital-first environment.

To support that goal modern apps are built from many components, including proprietary code, open-source components, and third-party APIs. All of this information needs to be stored somewhere.

Code bases house all code for applications. Over the years code bases have increased in complexity in order to be able to store large volumes of information and scale easily. However, as a result, code bases are often riddled with security vulnerabilities.

Large and complex code bases can make it difficult for your security teams to know whether there are security risks. Knowing the context of the code bases in your IT infrastructure is crucial to strengthening your security posture.

What are code bases?

A single file of code is inadequate for any modern app or software. Most apps and software rely on proprietary code, open source components, and APIs. However, there are many additional code files, data files, etc., pulled from various third-party sources used to build an application.

All of these resources are arranged in folders which are then placed in a single folder. The single folder that holds all the code files is called the code base. In simpler terms, a code base is a collection of source code used to build an application.

Code bases can be hosted locally or borrowed from third parties. Developers have favored using third-party code and libraries when building web apps for some time now. Third-party code is preferred due to the current need for a constant influx of quality code. The need for large amounts of high quality code makes it illogical to create code from scratch each time you start a new project. It is easier to use readily available third party code in order to achieve quick and effective results.

A big part of this third-party code is vulnerable: according to a new OSSRA report by Synopsys, open source’s share of code bases grew to 78% in 2021. Furthermore, 81% of code bases contain at least one security vulnerability and 85% use an open-source component over four years out of date.

At the same time, malicious actors continuously scan the internet, looking for apps running vulnerable open-source components. Vulnerabilities in open source code present an easy entry point for attackers to gain unauthorized access to source code, sensitive information, and the whole IT network. While the open-source community tends to be prompt in releasing patches and fixes for vulnerabilities, organizations don’t always have the needed in-depth visibility into their infrastructure to apply patches in a timely manner.

With proprietary code bases often containing hundreds of open-source components, this complex software supply chain often goes unchecked.

Hosting your code bases and how it can lead to vulnerabilities

Every software project or an app’s code base needs a good code repository host. A code repository is a code archive and a hosting platform for these archives. Archives contain a project’s technical documentation, web pages, patches, etc. Overall, code repositories are used to:

  • Offer version control for app projects to ensure all changes done to the code are tracked, and it’s possible to know who made what changes. Additionally, this allows developers to revert the code changes in case of errors or mistakes.

  • Keep the code hosted in one place, which provides a simple way for developers to collaborate.

  • Prepare code for release to production.

  • Track changes in the code and better detect potential bugs.


Many source code repository hosts are available across an organization’s developer teams, from the widely-used GitHub and Bitbucket to the lesser-known yet specific repo hosts. But just as with any introduction of third-party software or platforms, code repository hosts add another layer to your attack surface.

The most popular code bases are GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket by Atlassian. All three platforms are common targets for attackers and continuously report critical vulnerabilities that allow attackers to access sensitive information of millions of users and their code bases.

Malicious actors find these code base hosting platforms attractive as code and supporting files hosted on GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket can contain login credentials. When attackers gain access to code and code-based assets, they can also gain access to related services such as Amazon Web Services. Access to such related services allows cybercriminals to increase their foothold in an organization’s network, and access more sensitive data. Resources stored on these platforms, such as source codes, are considered intellectual property and priced accordingly on the Dark Web.

Why knowing the context of your code bases is important

Code bases are complex systems that have acted as building blocks for the current wave of external-facing application. Any component, source, or piece of code in a code base can act as a vector for malicious actors, making it a common part of their attack paths. We don’t need to look further than the infamous Log4Shell vulnerability. The vulnerability in the Log4J open source code library impacted over 44% corporate networks and shows how devastating the consequences of insecure code base components can be.

Having an understanding of the full context of components in your code bases is an effective step for any organization looking to ensure maximum security and minimize entry points to their networks.

For this, many organizations turn to attack surface management (ASM). ASM is a process in which organizations perform continuous discovery, classification, prioritization, and monitoring of external digital assets. ASM helps to unearth any malicious assets, security risks, and vulnerabilities in the entire IT infrastructure. Including code-based assets in any infrastructure monitoring efforts can ensure that organizations have insight into the context of code bases and uncover any flaws and weaknesses before they are exploited.

Protect against risks in your code bases with valuable source context powered by Hadrian

Hadrian’s powerful graph-based mapping will allow you to visualize your assets and their relations. Attack surface mapping provides a comprehensive view of your attack surface and takes into mind the complex IT infrastructures of today.

Hadrian goes beyond many market ASM tools by not only identifying your assets but contextualizing them. Hadrian collects IP data, DNS records, and app screenshots to reveal the relations between assets.

A focus on context means Hadrian considers where your third-part code is coming from and possible vulnerabilities in code based assets. Hadrian’s technology uncovers any blind spots that are exposed to the public so you can better understand and effectively prioritize your third-party risk, including those originating from code bases.

Summary

The modern digital attack surface today includes all assets such as applications, ports, servers, websites, and code an organization runs as part of its infrastructure. Code and code bases are an important part of an attack surface as they commonly contain security risks due to design flaws, insecure coding processes, and outdated and vulnerable third-party components.

Organizations must keep track of their code and code bases in their attack surface management and reduction efforts. Including code-based assets in any infrastructure monitoring actions will be the ideal proactive measure in uncovering and remediating any risks.

Don’t let your applications and code bases hinder your organization’s progress. Hadrian’s solution mimics how a cybercriminal would approach your organization and leaves no assets unturned in your infrastructure. Proactively scanning and testing your IT infrastructure will identify critical context on code bases that will allow you to close entry points. Learn more about Hadrian’s technology.

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