Software composition analysis (SCA) has emerged as an increasingly necessary tool to help organizations control risks that stem from the use of open source software. The sheer volume of OSS in modern applications — the average app uses 147 different
open source components (which pull in even more dependencies) — makes it hard for organizations to stay on top of issues in areas like:
Software composition analysis helps teams mitigate these risks by automating the discovery of vulnerabilities, licenses, and potential quality issues — then offering actionable insight to inform remediation. Finally, SCA tools also generally include capabilities that enable teams to apply security and license compliance policies at scale. (For example, an organization might use this functionality to flag anything with a GPL-licensed component across all builds.)
Many organizations pair software composition analysis (which can only be used with open source code) with tools for proprietary code (like SAST, DAST, IAST, and RASP) to form a complete suite of application security testing products.
In this guide, we’ll take a close look at the ins and outs of software composition analysis, including the specific ways SCA tools help organizations reduce open source risk. We’ll also discuss what organizations should consider when they evaluate SCA tools, what to expect in the next generation of SCA solutions, and the relationship between SCA and a software bill of materials.