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January 11, 2024

Open Source Trends and Predictions for 2024

Open Source

The open source software landscape is continually expanding, characterized by flourishing projects and active communities. The collaborative nature of open source ensures a constant influx of possibilities, and with each passing year, this space sees an impressive array of innovations. Keep reading to find out what I predict we'll see in 2024 in terms of open source trends.

Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part series; Part 1 recaps the biggest open source news from 2023. 

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Increased SBOM Usage  

This year, globally, many industry and government cybersecurity initiatives will take effect, while others will be further defined and amended. One of the results is going to be more software bills of materials (SBOMs). As organizations continue to face new pressures around security, vendors and engineering teams will increasingly generate SBOMs to meet internal and external open source software compliance. More SBOMs will improve open source security and governance by enabling organizations to keep track of software versions and vulnerabilities, making it easier to apply updates and move off of EOL open source software. 

Related video >> Why You Need a Software Bill of Materials                        

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More Organizations Adopting OSPOs 

Organizations are becoming more mature and strategic in their use of open source software, and because of this, we’ll see an increased number of Open Source Program Offices (OSPOs) in 2024. OSPOs cover overall engineering and governance management for open source software. They also help educate engineers and cultivate relationships with open source communities and foundations. Right now we are seeing OSPOs in many large corporations driving open source licensing compliance, as well standardization of security practices and knowledge-sharing inside organizations. Forming these offices will keep organizations up to date on all things related to open source, as well as maintain expertise and innovation around the use of the latest technologies.

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Open Source Software for Sustainability 

In recent years, sustainability in tech has gained prominence, from understanding how technology impacts climate change to fostering environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments. Part of the solution for ESG lies in the relationship between open source software and sustainability, and this connection will strengthen in 2024. This year we’ll see a surge in open source projects addressing sustainability — for example, tools to calculate emissions or monitor carbon footprints. Leveraging open source’s collaborative and transparent nature, it makes sense to combat climate change by sharing open source solutions. This synergy between sustainability and open source will keep gaining traction, driving increased visibility and collaboration for societal good. In 2024, expect to see more innovative OSS focused on environmental sustainability. 

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We surveyed more than 2,000 open source users worldwide to find out how much, why, and what OSS is being adopted. Find out which technologies are trending in your industry and what the future holds for open source in this comprehensive report. 

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The Next Log4Shell 

It's been two years since the zero-day vulnerability in the Java library Log4j emerged. While frequent disclosures of new critical and high-severity vulnerabilities persist, only a handful are zero-day threats, meaning they don't have an immediate fix and are capable of impacting tens of thousands of applications globally. Though 2023 passed without a Log4Shell-level critical vulnerability demanding immediate remediation efforts on an international scale, the nature of open source dependent on open source tells us that the likelihood of another critical vulnerability being maliciously exploited in 2024 is high. 

Over the years, a few significant cases, like the Apache Struts exploited vulnerability in the Equifax breach, underscore the persistent threat of zero-day vulnerabilities in open source software. In fact, while not a zero-day, on December 7, 2023, a new high-severity vulnerability on Apache Struts was disclosed. Despite improvements in the implementation of DevOps and DevSecOps practices, SBOM generation, Software Composition Analysis (SCA) tools, and organizations showing improved readiness, the looming risk of the next major zero-day vulnerability remains. 

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