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Software Supply Chain Security

What is Software Supply Chain Security?

Software supply chain security - Protecting components used to create and release products and manage environments. It consists of: Developed code, dependencies, and software created in-house and externally to create, package, integrate, and operate best practices for system access, scanning, assessment, and insights and intelligence.

Why is Software Supply Chain Security Important?

Gartner states that by 2025, about 45% of organizations will suffer from software supply chain attacks1. This is because companies commonly have inadequate security practices and tools dedicated towards protecting their open source and third party software components, leading to software supply chain attacks where malicious code is embedded into open source packages and product updates, and when users integrate these components, malware is distributed through their environment.

For example, 3CX, a voiceover IP (VoIP) software vendor, suffered from a supply chain attack where they unknowingly released malware to 1000s of their customers, potentially damaging their environments.

Additionally, in 2021, open source supply chain attacks increased by 650% with 62% of organizations suffering from these attacks2. This is because of the increased reliance on open source technologies, with over 80% of code in applications being open source3.

Finally, the impact of supply chain attacks are widespread, with some incidents causing millions of dollars in damages.

Enterprises struggle to maintain and secure their growing attack surface, making them and their users susceptible to supply chain attacks which are extremely costly to address.

Who Protects the Software Supply Chain?

DevSecOps - To determine if open source components are secure and ready to be integrated into codebases.

AppSec - To observe software supply chain risks pertaining to their attack surface, vulnerabilities, and versions of their applications.

ITSM - To secure third party vendor updates, ensuring that they are free of malicious embedded code before they are deployed across their systems.

Risk and Compliance - To establish consistent security practices and policies while deciding which compliance mandates to follow which apply to software supply chain security.

How to Secure the Software Supply Chain

By identifying vulnerabilities in components, assessing their attack surface, enforcing policies, and responding quickly to alerts, organizations can reduce their supply chain risks as they adopt the right tools and best practices.

Policies are an effective way to enforce security standards as teams can establish guardrails, determine what to scan for, how alerts should be prioritized, and how to remediate specific problems, establishing consistent best practices.

Shrinking the size of the attack surface reduces the general risk of an attack. This is accomplished when redundant or unnecessary components are removed from the software supply chain, maintaining lean applications and codebases and leaving behind components that are required to run and maintain your environment. Also, by enforcing identity and access management (IAM), users and tools can only access what is required for them to execute their jobs and tasks.

Continuously scanning open source and third party software components to find vulnerabilities and which allows teams to identify issues in real time and promote efficient remediation.

Components are frequently updated to patch vulnerabilities and potential exploits. By identifying outdated versions of components, enterprises are able to ensure that their components achieve a high level of integrity and performance.

Challenges when Securing the Software Supply Chain

A lack of visibility, leaked secrets, and unsecure open source packages lead to vulnerabilities, sensitive information being exposed, and inconsistent security practices.

With multiple teams managing various portions of the software supply chain, who are using numerous tools and best practices, there is limited visibility into components’ health, composition, and integrity while security measures are inconsistent.

Secrets are sensitive information that is vital for systems to function, like SSH keys, authorization tokens, or private certificates. However, they are commonly left in unprotected repositories, files, or applications, allowing outsiders to discover important details.

Open source projects are often inadequately monitored by their contributors, making them prone to being exploited by malicious actors and having vulnerabilities.

By adopting a common set of tools which enforce best practices which align with organization’s needs, teams are able to effectively secure their components, protect against tampering and leakage, and respond quickly to threats.

Learn More About the Software Supply Chain

If you are interested in learning more about software supply chain security, we released several resources which detail the background information, risks, challenges, and solutions to address your software supply chain and protect your components.


The monsters in your software supply chain

What traditional app sec tools miss: The monsters in your software supply chain

The State of Software Supply Chain Security
OnDemand Webinar

The State of Software Supply Chain Security

SCA Tools and Software Supply Chain Security – Better Together
Business Brief

SCA Tools and Software Supply Chain Security – Better Together