Security Experts:

New Google Tool Helps Developers Visualize Dependencies of Open Source Projects

Google has launched a new experimental tool designed to help application developers visualize the dependencies of open source projects.

In an effort to help developers gain a better perspective into the packages their open-source projects rely on, Google has introduced Open Source Insights, an exploratory visualization site that offers a view of dependencies, in an organized and accessible way.

One of the main issues that Open Source Insights aims to address is related to staying up to date with the latest changes in the dependencies of employed third-party packages, their latest updates and new features, or the security holes they might bring along.

In addition to offering a visualization of a project’s dependencies, the website also offers an “overview of how a particular software package is put together” and allows developers to visualize dependency graphs and compare different versions of the same package, all without having to install the package.

“Insights also helps you see the importance of your project by showing the projects that depend on it: its dependents. Even a small project is important if a large number of other projects depend on it, either directly or through transitive dependencies,” Google explains.

The website scans millions of open source projects to gather information about packages and build dependency graphs that are constantly updated.

Open Source Insights currently includes support for npm, Maven, Go modules, and Cargo, but Google says it plans on adding more packaging systems.

Constantly evolving: user protection

Google last week also made two announcements related to user protection: the launch of a new Abuse Research Grants Program and additional protections in Enhanced Safe Browsing in Chrome.

Launched as an addition to the existing Vulnerability Research Grants, the new experimental Abuse Research Grants Program will provide researchers with up-front awards before they have even submitted a bug.

According to Google, its Abuse Bug Bounty program has already resulted in more than a thousand valid bugs being identified over the past three years. Thus, last year, the search giant increased the rewards offered through the program.

The new features Google introduced in Enhanced Safe Browsing ensure that Chrome users are better protected when downloading risky files or when installing new extensions from the Chrome Web Store, by informing users when the extension is not on a trusted list.

“Any extensions built by a developer who follows the Chrome Web Store Developer Program Policies, will be considered trusted by Enhanced Safe Browsing. For new developers, it will take at least a few months of respecting these conditions to become trusted,” the company explains.

When downloading files, the browser checks with Google Safe Browsing to determine whether the file is potentially suspicious and will warn if the download is considered risky (but not clearly unsafe). Users will be able to send the file for further analysis, but will also have the option to bypass the warning and open the file without scanning it first.

Related: Google Workspace Gets New Security Features

Related: Google Funds Linux Kernel Security Development

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