Three Reasons Why You Need to Get an SBOM Going Now

Three Reasons Why You Need to Get an SBOM Going Now

Software Bill of Materials or SBOMs are gaining momentum because they really do make a difference when it comes to enhancing the security and reliability of software. Here are three reasons why organizations need to jump on the SBOM train now.

SBOMs Lead to Stronger Software Security

Organizations or individuals that purchase software can use an SBOM to perform vulnerability analyses to evaluate the risk a product presents. This is valuable for organizations in terms of understanding what goes into the software products they buy and how that might affect security.

Because SBOMs are formal records that include the details and supply chain relationships of the components used in building software, they provide extensive histories of software products that can help identify potentially risky components or sources.

Development teams are being encouraged to incorporate security into the development process through efforts such as DevSecOps, and one way they can do this is by referring to an SBOM for possible vulnerabilities, considering the context of these flaws and fixing them before the development process moves ahead.

SBOMs Lead to an Enhanced Development Process

From the standpoint of software development, SBOMs can allow developers who rely on open source and third-party components to make sure the components are up-to-date. This can save lots of time and cost on the backend because teams can avoid the need for major revisions in products to fix vulnerabilities.

In the future, SBOMs will be integrated into the security lifecycle of software products. They’ll be created automatically at pre-defined stages of code development, which is important given that many software providers don’t know what vulnerabilities might be present in their products, or which of them is exploitable.

Vulnerabilities are part of the software development process, so having the ability to find and address the most serious ones and document them in an SBOM in a timely manner is vital. Building security into the development lifecycle is important, and integrating SBOMs into the lifecycle and producing them automatically at various stages of development will become the standard.

Federal Government is All-In on SBOMs

For companies that supply software to the U.S. government, an SBOM is a must.

Among the requirements of the White House executive order on improving the nation’s cybersecurity, announced in May 2021, is that organizations provide buyers of software products with an SBOM for each product directly, or by publishing it on a public website.

The order directs the Department of Commerce, in coordination with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), to publish the “minimum elements” for SBOMs. Commerce has said that an SBOM provides those who produce, purchase, and operate software with information that enhances their understanding of the supply chain, and this enables multiple benefits.

SBOMs form a foundational data layer on which further security tools, practices, and assurances can be built, the department noted.

And the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), part of the Department of Homeland Security that leads national efforts to reduce risk to the cyber and physical infrastructure, said SBOM has emerged as a key building block in software security and software supply chain risk management.

For organizations or teams that have been putting off creating a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM)—or just ignoring the topic altogether—delaying is no longer an option.

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