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5 Essential Ways to Secure Your Software Supply Chain

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When talking of supply chains, the average person imagines a line of delivery vehicles, route planning, etc. However, modern enterprises are largely digital and this changes the nature of their supply chain. Software is intricately linked to everyday processes, and the tech stack a company chooses can pose potential threats.

What they may not realize, is that supply chain attacks can be digital, too. A vendor’s platform might transfer malware onto your system, unleashing a full-scale data breach. Securing your software supply chain is critical in the modern business environment, as a result.

Here are Five best practices to achieve this goal and prevent unintentional security compromises in your software stack.

5 Steps to help make your Software Supply Chain more Secure

Secure your Build and Update Infrastructure

Modern infrastructure can get complex in a hurry. The average enterprise uses a web of microservices, cloud containers, and on-premise servers to house applications and data. Navigating this complex web is challenging, even for the most sophisticated security team.

However, the right mix of automation with manual intervention can solve this problem. For starters, adopt Zero Trust (ZT) security practices. In this model, every entity on your network must be authenticated before being given access to systems. ZT is the opposite of legacy security where every entity deemed authentic is automatically granted access.

Zero Trust prevents attackers from manipulating outdated or unused credentials to infiltrate your system. It also pushes the automation theme. Automatically renew expiring credentials and patches to your OS and software instead of manually examining them.

Simple security measures such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) go a long way toward preventing breaches. Note that MFA isn’t a silver bullet. You must back this up with the right training so that your employees do not fall prey to social engineering attacks.

You could even consider removing the need for passwords from your MFA chain and rely instead on device-based authentication and one-time passwords. Given the modern remote work environment, insist on employees connecting to your networks via VPN.

These actions go a long way toward reducing the risk of malware entering your system from external sources.

Use Software Delivery Shield

Software Delivery Shield (SDS) is a security solution designed to protect software supply chains against a wide range of cyber threats. The software supply chain refers to the entire process of software development, from the initial design phase through to the delivery of the software to end-users. This process involves many different stakeholders, including software developers, third-party vendors, and other service providers.

SDS provides a set of security controls that can be used to secure the software supply chain. These controls are designed to prevent cyber attacks such as malware injection, code tampering, and data theft. Some of the key features of SDS include:

  1. Vulnerability Scanning: SDS uses vulnerability scanning to identify and fix security flaws in the software supply chain. This helps to prevent attacks that exploit known vulnerabilities.
  2. Code Signing: SDS uses code signing to verify the authenticity and integrity of software components. This ensures that only trusted code is delivered to end-users.
  3. Threat Detection: SDS uses threat detection to monitor the software supply chain for signs of cyber attacks. This helps to prevent attacks from going undetected.
  4. Access Control: SDS uses access control to restrict access to sensitive components of the software supply chain. This prevents unauthorized access and reduces the risk of data breaches.

Overall, SDS provides a comprehensive set of security controls that can help organizations to protect their software supply chains against cyber threats. By implementing SDS, organizations can ensure that their software is delivered securely and that their customers can trust the software they are using.

Review your Software Update Channels

Software updates and patches are an overlooked way for malicious actors to sneak malware into company systems. Given the cloud-based footprint at most companies, updates are delivered wirelessly. A malicious attacker can intercept these updates and inject code that initiates a data breach.

Typically, these updates are encrypted, however; expired credentials and a lack of ZT philosophy enforcement create an opening for attackers to leverage. For instance, an attacker might be foiled by encryption standards. However, they might use an expired credential to infiltrate the update stream and inject code.

Demanding SSL for updating channels and implementing certificate pinning are great ways to reduce this risk. These practices adhere to ZT, and you’ll reduce your risk of compromise considerably. Make sure you sign everything from config files to scripts to XML files and packages. 

Needless to say, examine all assets for digital signatures and do not accept generic input or commands. ZT assists here too by enforcing access in a time-constrained manner. The typical software update is delivered in a short while, usually a few hours at the most, but the service delivering the update has standing access to your system.

This access presents a potential attack vector an attacker can leverage. For instance, they could mimic a software update and infiltrate your system. Time-based credentials remove this risk by granting access to the service only when needed and limiting how long it remains in your system.

This process gives your security team a manageable window to monitor network activity and react to any abnormalities. Customizing access windows based on risk further reduces the breadth of what your security team has to monitor.

Why I need to use Assured Open Source Software (OSS) services for Software Supply Chain Security?

Using Assured Open Source Software (OSS) services is an effective way to enhance the security of your software supply chain. Here are some reasons why:

  1. Reduced Risk of Security Vulnerabilities: Open-source software is often developed by a community of developers who collaborate on the code. This means that the code is subject to peer review, which can help to identify and fix security vulnerabilities more quickly than in closed source software. Additionally, using Assured OSS services ensures that the open source components you’re using have undergone a thorough security review and testing.
  2. Increased Transparency: Open source software is transparent, meaning that the source code is available for review. This helps to ensure that there are no hidden backdoors or other malicious code in the software, which can help to increase trust in the software supply chain.
  3. Better Control Over Software Supply Chain: Using Assured OSS services can help you to better manage and control the software supply chain. By using vetted and tested open-source components, you can reduce the risk of introducing untested or malicious code into your software.
  4. Compliance: Many industries have regulatory requirements around the use of open source software. Using Assured OSS services can help you to comply with these regulations by providing a way to verify the security and quality of the open-source components you’re using.

Overall, using Assured OSS services can help you to reduce the risk of security vulnerabilities, increase transparency, improve control over the software supply chain, and ensure compliance with regulations. This can ultimately help you to deliver more secure software to your customers.

Create an incident Response Plan

Most companies create incident response plans once and leave them to gather dust. When a breach does occur, teams follow different workflows and rarely refer to their plans. One reason for this state of affairs is the amount of irrelevant information included in such plans.

Teams typically include the bare minimum and leave out critical information such as backup plans, locations, and security countermeasures. They also neglect to include communication plans and protocols. After all, if you suffer a data breach, your customers are affected significantly too.

Take the time to define all these points and periodically review your incident response plans. As your company grows, these plans will prove vital in guiding new employees and minimizing risk. Make sure your plan includes a risk-based grade of company assets so that your incident response team knows how to prioritize their actions.

Supply chain security is a company-wide effort

Software powers modern organizations and this means every employee is responsible for cybersecurity. Invest in education and the right tools, and you’ll manage to secure your software stack against malicious attackers. The best practices in this article will help you design the right processes and protocols.

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