Cybersecurity attacks aren’t aimed solely at individual organizations anymore. In a growing number of cases, these incidents are affecting numerous companies within supply chains.
Just look at some of the recent cyber events, including the attacks against Solarwinds and Kaseya, and vulnerabilities such as the one discovered in Log4j in late 2021. These incidents reveal weaknesses within supply chains that can lead to repercussions for hundreds or thousands of companies.
The software attack surface continues to grow through software innovation. Millions of lines of code and a rising number of software components from a broad range of sources means elevated risk. Today’s software environment includes components from packages, images, libraries and files, including third-party and open source components.
It’s an increasingly complex environment that’s difficult to manage, and threat actors can leverage this growing software attack surface and find new threat vectors.
To mitigate software security threats, security leaders and teams need to truly understand their attack surface at any given time; know which components of the attack surface are vulnerable and exploitable; understand their supply chain risk; have the critical information they need to prioritize software risks; and be positioned to mitigate risks quickly.
The way to achieve these objectives is by deploying dynamic software bill of materials (SBOM). SBOMs, if they are truly dynamic, provide businesses with complete and real-time transparency across the entire software lifecycle and stack.
The Features to Look For In an SBOM
It’s important for security leaders to remember that not all SBOMs are the same, and they should be looking for certain features and capabilities.
One is automated updates. Software is constantly changing, and SBOMs need to reflect these changes in real time. If they can’t be easily updated, the value of these resources is greatly diminished. The ability of an SBOM to continuously update based on changes in software is essentially what makes it dynamic rather than a static, point-in-time artifact.
Another important feature is real-time visibility into changes. A dynamic SBOM should seamlessly plug into all software environments, from development to production, and provide real-time visibility to all software components. It provides coverage of third-party and home-grown software across hosts, containers and application layers.
An effective SBOM does more than just uncover what software components are there. It reveals if and how they are being executed in runtime, providing teams with the ability to understand where vulnerabilities exist and whether they can be exploited by attackers.
In addition, SBOMs should be versatile, not specific to certain software or applications. This is important given that modern software environments have multiple types of software applications in development and production at any given time.
And effective SBOMs should be able to provide context. SBOMs by themselves offer limited value for understanding the exploitability of a specific vulnerability unless they provide the additional context needed to understand if the components and vulnerabilities are actually exploitable. Run-time context helps teams determine where to focus their remediation efforts.
By deploying dynamic SBOMs with these key features, organizations can help ensure the security of the software supply chain.
Dynamic SBOMs represent a new approach of continuous security which is integrated, automated, streamlined, and enforced at predefined stages within the workflow so that developers don’t waste time and product security teams gain time-to-market. It’s a win-win for both product security and developers.
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