WG Securing Critical Projects
This charter describes operations as an OSSF Technical Initiative. The Focus section below describes what is in and out of scope, and Governance section describes how our operations are consistent with OSSF policies with links to more detailed documents.
|Source. Randall Munroe. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.5|
Open Source Software has long suffered from a "tragedy of the commons" problem. Organizations large and small make use of OSS every day, but many projects are struggling for the time, resources and attention they need.
This is a resource allocation problem - and we can help solve it together. We need ways to connect critical projects we all rely on with organizations that can provide them with support.
Whether it is dedicated help from specialized experts or simply grant money or cloud credits, we recognize that no two projects are the same, and support can come in many shapes. We intend to work with upstream maintainers to understand what help and support they need, and then develop scalable processes to make this help available.
To the best of our efforts, the goals of the working group are:
- Identify critical open source software (OSS) projects.
- Secure those projects.
- Securing Critical Projects: List of Critical Open Source Projects, Components, and Frameworks - current version
- Leads: Amir Montazery and Julia Ferraioli
- Contributors: David Wheeler, Caleb Brown, Michael Scovetta, Georg Kunz
- criticality_score - this attempts to estimate criticality using the algorithm described in "Quantifying Criticality" by Rob Pike; you can see the Hacker News Discussion. A known challenge is that it emphasizes activity, and some critical projects aren't active.
- Lead: Caleb Brown
- Harvard research - Census II Preliminary Census II
- Lead: Caleb Brown
- Lead: Caleb Brown
- Lead: Jeff Mendoza
- Lead: Drives work forward
- Contributor: Available for taking work and completing
How were critical OSS projects selected?
Securing Critical Projects: List of Critical Open Source Projects, Components, and Frameworks is our current (in progress) list of critical OSS projects.
For our purposes, a critical OSS project is an OSS project that can have an especially large impact if it has a significant unintentional vulnerability, or if it is subverted in either its source repository or distribution package(s). There are literally millions of open source software (OSS) projects today, making it difficult to create a focused list of "critical OSS projects".
The list of critical OSS projects was developed for the Great MFA Distribution Project by the OpenSSF Securing Critical Projects Working Group (WG). This OpenSSF working group has been specifically working on this problem!
There are many ways to identify "critical" projects, so the Securing Critical Projects WG combined the results of several different analyses (the analyses are also called "Selection Criteria"), The WG then used human group review of this combined set of top candidates to create a final defensible list. The analyses ("selection criteria") for identifying candidate critical OSS projects included:
- OpenSSF Criticality Score: A top OpenSSF criticality score value. This metric prefers projects that are extremely active on specific forges. Such projects are likely to be important (at least to the participants). However, this is not a perfect measure; some projects will score low here and yet be very critical. Also, it currently only considers GitHub-hosted projects. As of 2021-11-23 the projects with the top scores are node, kubernetes, rust, and spark.
- Census Program II: Harvard preliminary analysis, uses SCA & dependency data. This tends to emphasize lower-level libraries that are depended on, transitively, by many.
- OSTIF Managed Audit Program: Programs OSTIF has recommended for audit. These were selected earlier from research sources, focusing on securing the most critical projects. You can see the OSTIF Managed Audit Program (MAP25)
- Top Google Project: Featured on Google Open Source page and widely adopted.
- Top Microsoft Project: Featured on Microsoft Open Source page and widely adopted.
- Top Linux Foundation Project: Featured on Linux Foundation Project page and related to supply chains.
- Secure Supply Chain Tool: Directly related to supply chain security (identified by WG)
- Survey Response: Response to public survey
- Language implementation: Identified by community as a widely-used language implementation
- Community Addition: Separately identified by the community as important.
- Previously subverted: If software has been previously attacked & it made headlines, it must be critical enough to attack.
Every method for identify critical OSS projects has its strengths and weaknesses; we believe the combination of analysis combined with human review is better than trying to do any one of them. For example, high criticality score tends to emphasize very busy projects; human review can remove projects that are busy but for whatever reason are less critical. Some projects are very important yet not active; by using other measures (not just the OpenSSF criticality score) we can still identify them.
We have no doubt that other OSS projects will be added to the critical OSS projects list over time. If you're interested in helping to do that, please join the working group.
Related work to quantitatively identify critical projects
- Vulnerabilities in the Core: Preliminary Report and Census II of Open Source Software by Frank Nagle, Jessica Wilkerson, James Dana, and Jennifer L. Hoffman, Linux Foundation & Harvard, February 2020.
- Open Source Software Projects Needing Security Investments by David A. Wheeler & Samir Khakimov, June 19, 2015
- "The Dark Reality of Open Source Through the Lens of Threat and Vulnerability Management" by Risksense, which identifies OSS with the most publicly-reported vulnerabilities reported as CVEs. Having more reported vulnerabilities does not mean that the software is necessarily more vulnerable; it often means that more people are looking for vulnerabilities & that there's a robust process for processing them. However, if so many people are searching for vulnerabilities in a product, that suggests it's an important (critical) project)
- OSTIF's list of critical projects for Managed Audit Program (link to more info here.
- Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII) Open Source Software Census II Strategy by David A. Wheeler & Jason N. Dossett, October 2017
- Report on the 2020 FOSS Contributor Survey by Frank Nagle, David A. Wheeler, Hila Lifshitz-Assaf, Haylee Ham, and Jennifer L. Hoffman
WG-Securing-Critical-Projects operations are consistent with standard operating guidelines provided by the OSSF Technical Advisory Committee TAC.
Meetings will all be published on the OSSF Community Calendar.
We have a public email list available here: https://lists.openssf.org/g/openssf-wg-securing-crit-prjs
You can also join us for day-to-day conversations on slack: https://openssf.slack.com/messages/wg_securing_critical_projects
Meeting Notes and Agendas are available on Google Drive.
Meeting Recordings are available on Youtube at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVl2hFL_zAh-cAfx6y4k-fODfbHeQzb_O.
This group is chaired by Amir Montazery (OSTIF) and Jeff Mendoza (Kusari).
Full details of process and roles are linked from governance README.
Identifying Critical Projects
See information on identifying critical projects
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