What Can Happen If You Don’t Address Software Supply Chain Security Issues?

This blog post address the issues around dealing with Software Supply Chain Security Risks

By now we know that software supply chain security issues are plentiful. And perhaps you’ve (wisely) decided that it’s a good idea to secure your software supply chain…you just haven’t gotten around to dealing with it yet, given other organizational priorities.

The more software you use, the more important it becomes to secure it. Software supply chain attacks are increasing, and there are major implications if you don’t.

You may think you’re just leaving your organization open to cyber threats. Think again. Unlike a traditional cyberattack, where hackers exploit a vulnerability to steal information from one system or a single company, attacking the supply chain packs a much bigger punch. When a single system or package is compromised, attackers gain access to a vast number of systems.

Not only that but when a cyberattacker infiltrates a network and deploys malicious code, the software is compromised before it is sent to customers. That compromised software sparks a chain reaction—it then compromises your customer’s data or system. Newly-acquired software may be compromised from the outset, or a compromise may occur through other means like a patch or fix.

Yet, even if a patch or fix is applied, the compromise is still there because it occurred prior to the patch or fix entering the customer’s network. That means all users of the compromised software will be impacted by these types of attacks, and they have widespread consequences for government, critical infrastructure, and private sector software customers.

We don’t just mean users of various software, but the personally identifiable information of any U.S. citizen. Taking it a step further, rival nations could gain a competitive advantage over the U.S. in trade, intelligence, or military action with the theft of data or digital assets.

Pipeline, Tools, Code Repositories, Oh My

Software supply chain breaches and attacks can zero in on build servers in a CI/CD pipeline, deployment tools, testing frameworks, and code repositories. Compromising code inside an open-source tool, hijacking updates, and undermining code signing are other risks.

A study by API security firm Salt Security’s “State of the CISO 2023” finds that supply chain and third-party vendors were the biggest security control gap for CISOs in their digital initiatives at 38%.

Dealing with Software Supply Chain Security Issues: You Don’t Have To Go It Alone

CISOs are understandably overwhelmed by the risks that come with rapid digitalization. They also are concerned about personal litigation resulting from security breaches, the report revealed.

With more open-source software being used in the software development process, there is rising demand among companies and government agencies for vendors to provide an SBOM, which identifies, inventories, and tracks the components used to build a software package. When an SBOM is dynamic and automated, it becomes an even more powerful way for organizations to keep tabs on security and compliance risks as they emerge.

SCA tools can also help by providing automated visibility into all open source software components in a codebase. This analysis is conducted to evaluate security, license compliance, and code quality. Companies must be aware of open-source license limitations and obligations.

“Today, SCA vendors offer features for ensuring supply chain integrity,” and many [like Rezilion??] directly provide SBOM in the user interface.

Don’t let the risks of reusable software components outweigh the use of a software supply chain. These components are essential for fast, modern development pipelines. By understanding the maintenance required to safeguard your applications and implementing the right tools and automated security testing, you can effectively manage supply chain risks.

About the author: Esther Shein is a longtime freelance tech and business writer and editor whose work has appeared in several publications, including CIO.com, TechRepublic, VentureBeat, ZDNet, TechTarget, The Boston Globe and Inc. She has also written thought leadership whitepapers, ebooks, case studies and marketing materials.

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