Security Experts:

OpenSSF Alpha-Omega Project Tackles Supply Chain Security

Microsoft and Google are throwing their weight behind a new Linux Foundation OpenSSF initiative to address major security gaps in the open-source software ecosystem.

The two tech giants have invested $5 million into the Alpha-Omega Project, an ambitious effort that tackles open source software security through direct engagement of software security experts and automated security testing. 

The Alpha-Omega Project is the first major announcement following a meeting between the U.S. government and private sector security leaders in response to the Log4j incident and promises help for at least 10,000 important and widely deployed open-source projects.

The OpenSSF said the new project aims to improve global OSS supply chain security by working with project maintainers to systematically look for new, as-yet-undiscovered vulnerabilities in open source code, and get them fixed.

The plan is for  “Alpha” to work with the maintainers of the most critical open source projects to help them identify and fix security vulnerabilities, and improve their security posture. 

[ READ: Apache Foundation Calls Out Open-Source Leechers ]

In tandem, the group said “Omega” will identify at least 10,000 widely deployed OSS projects where it can apply automated security analysis, scoring, and remediation guidance to their open source maintainer communities.

“Open source software is a vital component of critical infrastructure for modern society. Therefore we must take every measure necessary to keep it and our software supply chains secure,” said Brian Behlendorf, General Manager, OpenSSF.  

The plan is for “Alpha” to be a collaborative effort to identify and evaluate the most critical open source projects to help them improve their security postures.  The group said these projects will include standalone projects and core ecosystem services and will be selected based on the work by the OpenSSF Securing Critical Projects working group using a combination of expert opinions and data, including the OpenSSF Criticality Score and Harvard’s “Census” analysis identifying critical open source software.

Once a project is selected, Alpha team members will provide specialized assistance to understand and address security gaps. This help will include threat modeling, automated security testing, source code audits, and support remediating vulnerabilities that are discovered. 

Omega, by contrast, will focus on the long tail security implications of problems in  open-source software projects. The group said Omega will use automated methods and tools to identify critical security vulnerabilities across at least 10,000 widely-deployed open source projects. 

“Omega community members will provide suggestions on how to automate detection of security vulnerabilities in the future and more generally on efficient ways to implement security best practices,” the group said in a statement. 

Related: Apache Foundation Calls Out Open-Source Leechers

Related: Exploits Swirling for Major Security Defect in Apache Log4j

Related: Google Finds 35,863 Java Packages Using Defective Log4j 

Related: OpenSSF Bags $10 Million Investment

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Ryan Naraine is Editor-at-Large at SecurityWeek and host of the popular Security Conversations podcast series. Ryan is a veteran cybersecurity strategist who has built security engagement programs at major global brands, including Intel Corp., Bishop Fox and GReAT. He is a co-founder of Threatpost and the global SAS conference series. Ryan's past career as a security journalist included bylines at major technology publications including Ziff Davis eWEEK, CBS Interactive's ZDNet, PCMag and PC World. Ryan is a director of the Security Tinkerers non-profit, an advisor to early-stage entrepreneurs, and a regular speaker at security conferences around the world. Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanaraine.