Top 5 Tools to Maximize Security for your Open Source Application

Casper Henson
4 min readFeb 15, 2021
Photo by Franck on Unsplash


Nowadays, software development teams ship software faster than ever before, and for a good reason. Marketplace tools, including 3rd party open-source components, can help an engineering team ship daily or even hourly. One good example of this is Facebook; they release updates rapidly and at a massive scale.

As organizations want to speed up and catch up with their competitors and customers, many engineering teams no longer write proprietary software. Instead, they assemble software from various 3rd party components, including open-source components.

As developers utilize hundreds to thousands of various open-source components, all with individual licenses, this comes with a risk. It’s impossible to audit everything because of the speed. Therefore, we need tools to help scan for vulnerabilities, license compliance, etc. Thankfully, today we have various tools to choose from to support our engineering team and legal team while protecting the company from risk.


Every engineering team needs to invest in tools to maximize their productivity. Moreover, one significant investment is security compliance tools so that developers can focus more on release and innovation. And let the tools do the automation for the security checks of the open-source components. It is also vital that this tool comes with multiple levels of analysis.

Here are some things to check before buying to secure your organizations’ open source components and application.

  • Package Analysis: check whether a package comes from NuGet, Maven.
  • Security Analysis: checks for dependencies, vulnerabilities, exploit maturity, and accuracy of false positives.
  • License Compliance: manages the different licenses across software projects. Moreover, it is essential because we don’t know if a developer copies and pasted a code from somewhere in the internet space without knowing the license behind those codes.
  • Inventory of Vulnerabilities: this helps the engineering them see the vulnerabilities and provides the action items to automate them.
  • Multiple language support: most engineering teams aren’t focused on one technology stack because newer versions of programming languages are created or released. So it is vital to have multiple programming language support.
  • Easy Integration: this could be in the IDE, pull requests, and repositories.

Now that we have at least a basic understanding of this analysis, in this article, we’ll explore the top 5 tools to maximize the security of your open-source application.


Fossa focuses on improving organizations’ development workflow to track, manage, and mitigate issues with the software project’s open-source components. Moreover, they provide source code management that includes source code review.

Here are the two main things Fossa guarantees:

  • Compatible and a flexible tool for today’s modern software engineering practices.
  • Provides a useful feedback loop that empowers the legal team to focus more on strategic issues. Thus, it helps the legal team and engineers to collaborate more often.

WhiteSource Bolt

WhiteSource Bolt is a free tool designed for developers, and it is intended to find and fix open source vulnerabilities, just like the previous tools we have discussed. It runs on GitHub, and it is an extension of Azure DevOps and works by scanning all of your repositories by validating and checking vulnerabilities.

Moreover, every time a particular repository is scanned and examined thoroughly, this tool will do its best to generate a complete inventory and license reports of all open source components used within your repository.

Here are the features of White Source Bolt:

  • Continuous Integration
  • License Compliance
  • Vulnerability Identification
  • Alerts
  • Reports
  • Automated Feedback
  • Suggested Fix

FlexNet Code Insight (Revenera)

FlexNet Code Insight supports companies whose focus is shipping custom software products to customers. Their product is an on-premises (can also be deployed to the cloud) product that scans the organizations’ source code and checks for vulnerabilities. Moreover, this tool stands out because it supports 25+ programming languages includes legacy and modern languages.

You can check their sample workflow integration in the diagram below:

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OWASP Dependency Track

The company OWASP Foundation works to enhance the security of software through its community-led open-source projects. One of their projects that helps many organizations check their codes’ vulnerability when using open source components is OWASP Dependency Track.

Fundamentally, it is a Supply Chain Component Analysis Platform, which gives the organization the capability to identify and reduce risk from 3rd party and open source components. The unique thing about this tool is it uses an approach by leveraging the Software Bill of Materials (SBOM).

You can check their sample workflow integration in the diagram below:

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JFrog Xray

JFrog Xray is a universal software composition analysis (SCA) solution. It helps organizations’ DevOps teams to improve developer productivity and efficiently increase velocity, resulting in high-quality software. As they always say: “Release Fast or Die.”

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