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Top 3 Software Supply Chain Security Challenges

Jun 21, 2023 by Adam Frank

Software supply chain security is a top concern for engineering organizations. With the ever-increasing demand for software, it’s no surprise that the software supply chain has become a prime target for cybercriminals. 

In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2025:

45% of organizations worldwide will have experienced attacks on their software supply chains, a three-fold increase from 2021


In this blog post, we will discuss some of the top software supply chain security challenges that developers face and a few ways to overcome them.

Third-Party Components

Third-party components, libraries, and frameworks play a vital role in the development of modern software applications. However, they also pose a significant security risk to the software supply chain. Hackers can inject malicious code into third-party components, which can lead to security breaches. 

Further, those components are often not up-to-date. Developers must regularly update components to mitigate such security threats. Regularly checking components and dependencies is a vital step in software supply chain security that should not be overlooked.

Lack of Visibility

The use of open-source software increases the chances of security vulnerabilities, and the lack of visibility of dependencies in software supply chains increases the risk of attacks. Developers need visibility into the open-source code in order to track any changes or vulnerabilities in use. Several tools are available to help developers keep track of their code. 

However, the most important aspect is a proper understanding of the supply chain. It is important to have a complete inventory of software assets that are regularly checked. A thorough understanding of the software supply chain can allow any developer to investigate, resolve issues, and ultimately prevent security breaches.

Threat Intelligence

As the frequency and sophistication of attacks increase, developers need to remain vigilant and stay informed. Threat intelligence is essential to recognize and respond to new and emerging cyber threats. 

Without threat intelligence, it is difficult for developers and organizations to keep up with the rapid pace of change and the complexity of new threats. Regular access to threat intelligence and breach statistics, and the use of security tools and protocols, can help organizations stay ahead of the game and keep their software supply chain secure.

Armory Helps Shore Up Software Supply Chain Security

Software supply chain security challenges are real and require a proactive approach by developers. Addressing the challenges outlined in this blog post can help reduce the risk of security breaches and deliver software that is trusted by users. 

Types of Security Scanners

Automated tools have become common that can scan applications for vulnerabilities. Different classes of scanner are better for finding different classes of vulnerability. For example:

Static Code Scanners

These tools are frequently run in a company’s CI system, before the deployment process begins. They scan the source code for known vulnerabilities, and also scan the dependencies, flagging any that have known vulnerabilities.

Dynamic Scanners

Several classes of dynamic security scanner also exist. These typically require a running, deployed version of the application. This includes many OWASP security scanners as well as many tools that perform automated penetration testing. These analyze the entire envelope of a deployed application, not just its source code.

Developers must work closely with cybersecurity teams, trusted vendors, and purpose-built tooling to ensure that the software supply chain is secure. Built with this purpose in mind, Continuous Deployment-as-a-Service can help improve your software supply chain at every stage. Click the links below to learn more. 

With manual deployment processes, it can be a challenge to ensure all security requirements and tests pass before deploying a new application version to production. Some frameworks, such as SigStore, exist to leverage image signing so that a production environment can prevent deployment of versions lacking the required signatures. Similarly, orchestration tools like CD-as-a-Service can ensure all tests and processes pass before deploying to production, and get the required signatures applied. 

These signatures also can be verified by the runtime, which ensures that even if a supply chain hack attempts to make a production environment download an unauthorized image, the production environment will refuse since it lacks the correct signatures.

Regular monitoring and updates, improved code visibility, and access to regular threat intelligence are essential to building secure software supply chains. By taking these steps, developers can be confident in delivering secure software that meets user expectations.

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