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Supply-chain Levels for Software Artifacts (SLSA)

What is SLSA?

Supply-chain Levels for Software Artifacts (SLSA)A collaborative framework run by the Linux Foundation that offers guidelines for establishing a clear understanding of the origins, dependencies, and potential vulnerabilities associated with software components. With it, software artifacts are categorized into levels based on their proximity to the development process, creating a structured approach to assess and manage potential security risks.

The importance of employing SLSA

Enhanced security: By identifying and addressing vulnerabilities at different supply chain stages, organizations can effectively reduce the avenues open to malicious actors for exploitation.

Better reliability: Managing the software supply chain requires fostering trust-based relationships with vendors and suppliers. A foundation of trust, with all parties invested in the partnership's success, is necessary for the delivery of high-quality and secure software components.

Streamlined compliance: Organizations can simplify the often daunting task of regulatory compliance by maintaining transparency and ensuring that every stage of the supply chain is well documented.

Risk mitigation: Every software component carries potential risks, most notably third-party dependencies. By proactively managing these risks, organizations can significantly reduce the chances of security breaches or disruptions to operations.

The components of SLSA

Source components: The foundational building blocks of any software application are typically the original codes or components developed in-house by an organization.
Intermediate components: This refers to third-party libraries or modules that are integrated into the original code to enhance functionality or expedite the development process. These integral components bring in tried-and-tested functionalities so that developers don’t need to start from scratch.
Deployed components: These are the completed software artifacts deployed in production environments.

Business benefits of leveraging SLSA

Enhanced reputation: Demonstrating a commitment to software security builds customer trust.
Reduced downtime: By identifying vulnerabilities early, organizations can prevent downtime caused by security breaches.
Cost savings: Addressing security issues proactively is more cost-effective than dealing with breaches after they occur.
Compliance adherence: Maintaining a clear record of software components and their origins simplifies compliance audits.

Using SLSA to enhance supply chain integrity

Comprehensive analysis: Thoroughly assess each software artifact's origin, dependencies, and security posture. 
Vendor evaluation: Carefully vet third-party vendors and suppliers for their security practices and track record.
Continuous monitoring: Implement monitoring of software artifacts throughout their lifecycle.
Security updates: Security patches and updates for all software components.

[Related: Supply chain integrity attacks

Use cases for SLSA

Software development: Ensure secure coding practices and robust dependency management.
Third-party integrations: Safeguard against vulnerabilities introduced by third-party components.
Open-source contributions: Maintain transparency and security when contributing to open-source projects.

Learn more

For further insights into SLSA, explore the following articles:

Blog Report


SLSA 1.0 delivers build provenance: What app sec teams need to know

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Blog Report

SLSA-Survey (1)

Supply chain security is maturing — but it's a work in progress

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What went wrong with the 3CX supply chain attack — and how it could have been prevented

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