The Best SCA Tools for 2023
With much of the tech we use daily relying on open-source software, it’s safe to say that the digital economy runs on open-source. But that doesn’t mean everyone knows how to protect it.
The sheer amount of open-source code available today makes it impossible to manually track that code to ensure it is safe for your company to use it. Software Composition Analysis (SCA) automates that process, analyzing open-source software in a codebase to evaluate its security, quality, and license compliance.
If you’re walking into 2023 looking for more reliability, speed, and enhanced security that saves you time and money, SCA should be a tool in your business’ security toolbox.
Who Needs SCA Tools?
With the growth of cloud-native applications and a rising number of businesses using multiple cloud services, a dependable SCA tool is necessary to protect your business. The emergence of hybrid work structures has created increasingly-complex IT systems that make it difficult to monitor every cloud service a company uses. Employees may also create vulnerabilities by misusing cloud applications, lousy password hygiene, or other human errors that expose a company to risk.
These vulnerabilities are exactly what cybercriminals are looking for. Hackers disproportionately target finance and e-commerce companies because of the gold mine of personal and financial data they hold–Just look at the 1,318% increase in ransomware attacks the global banking industry experienced in 2021.
When there are 188 million victims of data breaches in the US annually, you must ensure your company, employees, and customers are protected. Companies of all sizes are targets, even reputable financial companies like Flagstar Bank, one of the United States’ biggest financial providers. The company experienced a massive data breach in which 1.5 million customers’ social security numbers were leaked in June 2022. This follows the settlement of multiple class-action lawsuits in March 2021 related to a prior data breach due to the company’s failure to implement adequate protection protocols before falling victim to a second attack.
Small businesses are at risk too. Nearly 85% of data breaches in the US target small businesses at a rate of almost 4,000 attempted attacks per day. These attacks cost small businesses an average of $120,000 per incident, and 60% of the companies victimized shut down within six months.
The data surrounding cyber attacks makes it abundantly clear that companies that neglect cyber security will pay exceptional amounts of money in the long run. In 2021, the global average cost of a data breach exceeded $4.2 million, and this number doesn’t include the potential fines and legal fees that could come in the aftermath due to tightening privacy regulations.
It’s also important to consider the importance of SCA tools in a time of unprecedented development speeds. The adoption of DevOps methodologies has created a projected industry growth rate of 24.7% per year between 2019 and 2026, with worldwide revenue in 2021 totaling $15.9 billion. Rising competition has pushed companies to release new software and updates at increasingly faster rates, and DevOps helps meet this demand. However, many organizations don’t have enough employees in security teams to test all of their code thoroughly, meaning security can often be left for last or entirely out of the DevOps flow, leaving potential vulnerabilities unresolved.
With the damage cyberattacks can do to your company in one hit, it’s vital to be proactive with your protection protocols. Read on to learn how an SCA tool can benefit your business and the top SCA tools to choose from.
What Is Software Composition Analysis (SCA)?
Software composition analysis (SCA) is an automatic process that detects open-source software in a codebase. SCA tools scrutinize source code, manifest files, package managers, binary files, container images, and more to compile into a Bill of Materials (BOM). This is then compared against numerous databases, such as the National Vulnerability Database (NVD). SCA tools can use BOMs to evaluate overall code quality and compare against other databases to identify any licenses associated with the code. This allows security teams to identify critical legal or security vulnerabilities so they can act quickly to resolve them.
What Can SCA Tools Do for Me?
Developers and companies use SCA tools to assess vulnerabilities and verify licensing of the open-source components within their applications. Research has found that 97% of codebases have open-source components, 53% of which contain license conflicts, and 81% have at least one vulnerability. SCA tools automatically scan for these vulnerabilities and license compliance to provide insights into resolving the identified vulnerabilities. As SCA tools are more vigorous than vulnerability scanner software, they are better suited to help companies at high risk of attacks, like those in finance, e-commerce, and healthcare.
Key Considerations When Choosing SCA Tools
There are a few important considerations you should make when deciding which SCA tool works best for you:
To allow your teams to continue working efficiently and quickly, you need SCA software that seamlessly integrates with the tools your teams already use. A key consideration is ensuring an SCA tool can be incorporated across the software development life cycle (SDLC). You should also choose an SCA tool that works with your application security testing (AST) tool requirements. Begin your evaluation by considering SCA tools offered by your AST to allow for a more tightly-integrated experience.
You can’t fix the vulnerabilities in your code if you don’t know which part of your code is open source. To choose an SCA tool, you must look at its language coverage to ensure the coding languages you use are included. Be mindful of the languages you currently use and what you may use in the future. Failure to do so could cause you to outgrow the tool you choose quickly.
You must also assess the toolset’s discovery methods for finding open-source code. Some scanning package managers are fast but can miss open-source code if copied over in pieces or modified. You need an SCA with a more sophisticated scanning approach in these cases. You also want to choose an SCA tool that can scan binaries, as you may not always have access to the source code.
3. License Data
While much of the focus with open-source software is on security breaches, license risks can be just as expensive. Look for an SCA tool with extensive open-source licenses databases to reduce your risk of legal ramifications.
4. Vulnerability Data
Once your Bill of Materials (BoM) has been compiled, it needs to be compared to known security vulnerabilities. SCA tools that combine a diverse set of data resources with a research team dedicated to expanding that data will provide the most actionable and comprehensive information.
Top SCA Tools for 2023
Reflectiz uses behavioral analysis to identify and mitigate risks on customers’ websites. By mapping out all third-party activity on a website, Reflectiz provides the website owner with data about their potential compliance issues and vulnerabilities so they can be remedied in real-time.
Best for: e-commerce and financial services companies
Pros: Monitors network activity to detect client-side attacks, an area traditional security solutions are unable to see
Cons: No on-premise deployment
Review: “Great company and great product. They have helped us so much in tuning their product to help make it as easy to use as possible.” Chris R.
Jit orchestrates npm-audit, an open-source SCA solution, so you can integrate it with your CI/CD to run automatically for every new PR. This makes it easy to scan code dependencies for vulnerabilities and run a security audit of the dependencies configured in your project to your default registry.
Best for: Dev organizations
Pros: Increases Dev velocity in alignment with security principles, simple experience, created by developers and for developers
Cons: Requires Dev experience
Review: “Very easy to onboard with this tool; You get a lot of points for the user experience. I like that the plan configuration corresponds to the code representation–very transparent.” Head of DevOps at a SaaS startup of 120 employees.
The SpectralOps platform integrates with all leading CI systems to prevent leaks caused by bad credentials hygiene and human error. This solution allows developers to focus on coding while Spectral monitors the code for possible mistakes that could lead to expensive vulnerabilities.
Best for: Hybrid work environments that need both a cloud and on-premise solution
Pros: Created by developers, for developers.
Cons: Lacks customization
Review: “Spectral is a reliable gatekeeper for our secrets.” Benny B.
Snyk helps developers to secure custom code, open-source dependencies, cloud infrastructure, and containers from just one platform. Snyk’s solution empowers developers to build security for the whole application.
Best for: SMBs
Pros: Comprehensive and detailed reporting structure
Cons: Expensive for medium-sized businesses
Review: “Powerful analysis to reduce risk in your applications.” Sean P.
5. Black Duck (by Synopsys)
Black Duck helps developers secure code as they write it by automating testing within development pipelines. The solution allows security teams to manage risks throughout the application lifecycle proactively.
Best for: Enterprise and mid-market organizations
Pros: Supports a wide range of languages
Cons: More expensive than other solutions
Review: “It has impressive legal and security third-party software compliance features.” Pratik H.
FOSSA is a comprehensive open-source risk management platform used by legal teams to maintain compliance, by security teams to assess and fix vulnerabilities, and by engineers/developers to improve code quality.
Best for: Multiple teams collaborating
Pros: Reasonable pricing
Cons: Lacking license databases
Review: “Easy to use tool to monitor license compliance.” Dhruv B.
Wiz is a purpose-built platform to handle the complexities of multi-environment, multi-workload, and multi-project cloud estates. Their 100% API-based approach scans every workload and platform configuration for vulnerabilities.
Best for: Multi-cloud and Kubernetes environments
Pros: Fast and simple implementation
Cons: Limited customer support options
Review: “Frictionless Cloud Security for automated visibility and alerting on compliance and vulnerabilities.” Craig S.
MergeBase offers software supply chain protection that boasts the lowest rate of false positives in the industry and complete DevOps coverage throughout every stage of development.
Best for: Companies with complex supply chains
Pros: Exclusively focused on SCA
Cons: Challenges reading binary
Review: “Excellent for reducing open-source risk.” Gabriela G.
Managing Risks in a Software World
Businesses have become increasingly software-reliant, and many applications they rely on (even in-house ones) involve external code that can expose a company to third-party risk. While SCA tools can help to mitigate these risks, it is also necessary to be vigilant beyond your company’s server. SCA tools should be used in combination with third-party monitoring tools so your business can defend against risks from external parties you lack control over. That’s why the Reflectiz platform expands beyond SCA with continuous web threat management.
Find out how Reflectiz can protect your company by signing up for a free version: https://www.reflectiz.com/registration/