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US bill to secure FOSS software

Updated on 2022-09-22: Senate Bill Addresses Open Source Software Protection

Members of the US Senate Homeland Security Committee have introduced a bill that aims to enhance open-source software security. The Securing Open Source Software Act would direct the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to develop a framework for assessing open source software risk. It would also direct the Office of Management and Budget to publish guidance to help agencies secure open source software.


  • Even commercial software could not exist in its current form without open source. Protecting open source by extension does protect the vast majority of commercial software as well.
  • The proposed language gives CISA a year to put out yet another framework and then another two years for a report to determine if private industry could use that same framework. Three years to more paper documents is not major movement forward. On the good side, funding hiring of open source expertise in the CISA is a good thing and treating open source software used in critical functions as critical infrastructure is a very good thing. CISA should use the OpenSSF and the Linux Foundation “Open Source Software Security Mobilization Plan” as a starting point to fund immediate movement forward in parallel with any framework development.​​​​​​​
  • Executive Order 14028 already introduced requirements for securing the software supply chain. Additionally, there is existing guidance you can look to already to raise your bar. At a minimum, ensure you’re only allowing secure access to code repositories, implementing MFA for users and making sure you are using the vetted release of components in your CI/CD pipeline.​​​​​​​
  • ​​​​​​​Being able to measure risk is always useful. So is hiring those with skills and experience. One can hardly fault a laws that favors such. However, we already know that this risk is high and that there is not much the buyers can do about it. We know skills and experience are in short supply. As John Pescatore suggests, the time scale for this law to have any real impact is very long. A law that requires a digital software bill of materials would be a good place for Congress to start and would have earlier impact. While our tolerance for supplier error is high, at some point we need to hold sellers accountable for malicious code in their products. That too will require legislation.



Two US senators, Rob Portman (R-OH) and Gary Peters (D-MI), introduced a new bill last week to help strengthen the security of open source software. Read more: Portman, Peters Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Help Secure Open Source Software

The Securing Open Source Software Act would direct CISA to develop a risk framework to evaluate how open source code is used by the federal government. CISA would also evaluate how the same framework could be voluntarily used by critical infrastructure owners and operators. This will identify ways to mitigate risks in systems that use open source software. The legislation also requires CISA to hire professionals with experience developing open source software to ensure that government and the community work hand-in-hand and are prepared to address incidents like the Log4j vulnerability. Additionally, the legislation requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue guidance to federal agencies on the secure usage of open source software and establishes a software security subcommittee on the CISA Cybersecurity Advisory Committee.

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