One-in-two JavaScript project audits by NPM tools sniff out at least one vulnerability...

...and those devs are then applying patches, we hope


JavaScript library custodian NPM, after years of security scrambling, looks to be getting a grip on its code safety.

There was that incident in May when NPM swiftly removed a backdoored package following complaints. No real damage was done.

A month earlier, the bit-shifting biz added a "audit" command to v6 of npm, the company's eponymous command line tool. Thereafter, npm-wielding developers had the option to type npm audit from the command line while in a Node.js project directory, generating a listing of known vulnerabilities affecting package dependencies hailing from code stored in the NPM registry.

Better still, simply typing npm install – the command to populate a Node.js project with packages declared in the package.json file – would run an automatic security audit.

Remediation is not automatic, but as of May, users gained the ability to type npm audit fix to replace outdated, insecure modules in projects with current, hopefully secure ones.

Since April, according to the company, npm users have run 50 million automatic scans and have deliberately invoked the command 3.1 million times. And they're running 3.4 million security audits a week.

Across all audits, 51 per cent found at least one vulnerability and 11 per cent identified a critical vulnerability.

Pull the other one

In a phone interview with The Register, Adam Baldwin, head of security at NPM, said he didn't have data on how many people are choosing to fix flagged flaws. "But what we've seen from pull requests suggests it's gaining traction," he said.

Incidentally, npm's thinking about security is finding similar expression elsewhere in the industry. Earlier this year, GitHub began alerting developers when their code contains insecure libraries.

During a recent media briefing, GitHub's head of platform Sam Lambert said he hoped that the process could be made more automated through the mechanized submission of git pull requests that developers could simply accept to replace flawed code.

Baldwin said NPM might implement something similar, an intervention rather than a simple notification. "Currently it's not proactive policy enforcement," he said. "But it's something we're considering."

That would appeal to NPM's growing enterprise constituency. "Enterprises for sure want the compliance and control," said Baldwin. "They want that ability to know the open source they're bringing in is safe or meets a certain set of criteria."

Upping its security game further still, NPM on Wednesday added “Report a Vulnerability” buttons to every NPM package webpage. The biz also started checking the hashes of passwords during account creation against the "Have I Been Pwned?" database, to help users avoid compromised passwords.

This isn't to say there won't be further security issues with NPM packages, but the tools for avoiding problems and fixing them are getting better. ®

Broader topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Despite 'key' partnership with AWS, Meta taps up Microsoft Azure for AI work
    Someone got Zuck'd

    Meta’s AI business unit set up shop in Microsoft Azure this week and announced a strategic partnership it says will advance PyTorch development on the public cloud.

    The deal [PDF] will see Mark Zuckerberg’s umbrella company deploy machine-learning workloads on thousands of Nvidia GPUs running in Azure. While a win for Microsoft, the partnership calls in to question just how strong Meta’s commitment to Amazon Web Services (AWS) really is.

    Back in those long-gone days of December, Meta named AWS as its “key long-term strategic cloud provider." As part of that, Meta promised that if it bought any companies that used AWS, it would continue to support their use of Amazon's cloud, rather than force them off into its own private datacenters. The pact also included a vow to expand Meta’s consumption of Amazon’s cloud-based compute, storage, database, and security services.

    Continue reading
  • Atos pushes out HPC cloud services based on Nimbix tech
    Moore's Law got you down? Throw everything at the problem! Quantum, AI, cloud...

    IT services biz Atos has introduced a suite of cloud-based high-performance computing (HPC) services, based around technology gained from its purchase of cloud provider Nimbix last year.

    The Nimbix Supercomputing Suite is described by Atos as a set of flexible and secure HPC solutions available as a service. It includes access to HPC, AI, and quantum computing resources, according to the services company.

    In addition to the existing Nimbix HPC products, the updated portfolio includes a new federated supercomputing-as-a-service platform and a dedicated bare-metal service based on Atos BullSequana supercomputer hardware.

    Continue reading
  • In record year for vulnerabilities, Microsoft actually had fewer
    Occasional gaping hole and overprivileged users still blight the Beast of Redmond

    Despite a record number of publicly disclosed security flaws in 2021, Microsoft managed to improve its stats, according to research from BeyondTrust.

    Figures from the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) of the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) show last year broke all records for security vulnerabilities. By December, according to pentester Redscan, 18,439 were recorded. That's an average of more than 50 flaws a day.

    However just 1,212 vulnerabilities were reported in Microsoft products last year, said BeyondTrust, a 5 percent drop on the previous year. In addition, critical vulnerabilities in the software (those with a CVSS score of 9 or more) plunged 47 percent, with the drop in Windows Server specifically down 50 percent. There was bad news for Internet Explorer and Edge vulnerabilities, though: they were up 280 percent on the prior year, with 349 flaws spotted in 2021.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022