Avoiding the Pitfalls: The Risks of Using Bad Third-Party Libraries in Your App

11 Jan 2023

Third-party libraries are a common and convenient way for developers to add functionality to their applications without having to build everything from scratch. However, the use of third-party libraries also comes with certain risks that developers need to be aware of.

Security vulnerabilities

One of the main risks associated with using third-party libraries is security vulnerabilities. Many libraries, especially older or less maintained ones, may contain known security holes that can be exploited by attackers. In some cases, these vulnerabilities may have been discovered and patches released, but the library maintainer may not have released a new version that incorporates the fixes. In other cases, the vulnerability may not have been discovered at all.

Potential for stability issues

Libraries that are not maintained or are built with poor design practices can lead to bugs, crashes, and other stability problems that can harm your application. Sometimes, especially if the library is not popular, you will have a hard time finding help and debugging the issues, and you may need to replace the library.

Deprecated or unmaintained over time

Additionally, third-party libraries can also become deprecated or unmaintained over time, which means that the library may no longer receive updates or support. This can be a problem if you are relying on the library for critical functionality and it stops working or becomes incompatible with other parts of your application.

Bad license

There are several risks of using a bad or poorly licensed third-party library in an application. Some of the main risks include:

  • Legal issues: If the library is not properly licensed, you could be violating copyright laws and face legal action.
  • Damage to brand reputation: if the library is found in violation of any standard or contains a vulnerability that compromise user data, it can lead to negative public perception of the app and the company who developed it.

To mitigate these risks, it’s important to thoroughly evaluate any third-party libraries before incorporating them into your application. This includes conducting a security audit to identify any known vulnerabilities and checking the library’s maintainability and popularity.

A dependency audit is also a good practice to have in place, and it can help you to identify which libraries are not actively maintained, or if there are newer version of the library, also it can be a good opportunity to review if all libraries are being used.

In general, it’s best to stick with well-established and widely-used libraries that are actively maintained, rather than taking a chance on less popular or unmaintained libraries. It’s also a good idea to keep your libraries up-to-date and to review them on a regular basis to ensure that they continue to meet your needs and don’t introduce new risks to your application.

In conclusion, using third-party libraries can be a great way to add functionality to your application, but it’s important to be aware of the risks that come along with it. By thoroughly evaluating libraries before incorporating them and keeping them up-to-date, developers can help to ensure that their applications are as secure and stable as possible.

Don't take a risk, audit your App