NodeSource’s newest tool aims to make the Node.js ecosystem more secure

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NodeSource Inc. has taken it upon itself to help the thousands of organizations that use Node.js make their applications more secure.

The startup, which was founded three years ago to commercialize the popular programming platform, is tackling the challenge a new tool that provides the ability to vet the third-party code packages used in a software project. Certified Modules, as the offering is called, effectively acts as a quality filter for the more than 400,000 publicly available libraries in the Node.js ecosystem. At its core is a homegrown algorithm that NodeSource says can automatically identify reliability issues.

The mechanism first checks packages against a database of known security issues to identify whether incorporating them into an application might create an opening for hackers. From there, the Certified Modules algorithm checks the quality of the code, licensing restrictions various other factors that an enterprise developer may want to take into account. The results are then factored into what NodeSource describes as a “trust score” that can help users determine whether a given package is worth using.

According to the startup, the rating of a library is continuously updated as new versions become available. The goal is to help development teams identify if a package that they’ve included in a project becomes vulnerable and quickly find a suitable replacement with a sufficiently high trust score.

NodeSource thus hopes to kill two birds with one stone. The startup wants to reduce the amount of manual work involved in vetting Node.js packages while reducing the risk of human error, which in turn lowers the chance of an unreliable library finding its way into an important application. Avoiding even one vulnerability that might normally go undetected can have a major impact for large organizations.

Certified Modules makes packages that pass its screening accessible through a curated registry from which developers can safely download code without fear of violating quality controls. It’s similar to what Docker Inc. offers with the commercial version of its container platform, which received a major update earlier this month. The platform includes a catalog where companies can store their most frequently used software components and have them scanned for security vulnerabilities on a regular basis.

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