How to Audit Your Software Supply Chain Security

Feb 9 2024/Software Supply Chain/4 min read
Digital threats are part of the development landscape, so how should you audit your software supply chain security to ensure you protect your pipeline? This blog will take you through the threats that are lurking and the steps you can follow to guard against them.

In a world where digital threats lurk at every corner, securing your software supply chain is vital. Without proper tooling, you can’t adequately protect it. 

Over the past few months, software supply chain attacks have compromised thousands of organizations. Okta, users of Progress Software's MOVEit file transfer app, and JetBrains’ TeamCity On-Premise development platform are just a few. In 2020, the notorious SolarWinds supply chain attack infected more than 18,000 customers, including Microsoft, Intel, and roughly 100 other companies, as well as a dozen U.S. government agencies.

Cybersecurity Ventures research suggests the financial impact of supply chain attacks is rising by 15% annually. They predict that the cost to businesses will reach $60 billion by 2025 and $138 billion by 2031. This alarming trend underscores the urgency for robust security measures and regular audits to safeguard against these evolving threats.

What is Software Supply Chain Security?

Software supply chain security involves protecting all aspects of the software development and deployment process. It's not just about the code you write, but also about the third-party components you integrate. Common threats include compromised dependencies and inadequate control over third-party libraries. Open source software has accelerated the speed of development and delivery, and is present in an estimated 96% of computer software, according to the Open Source Security and Risk Analysis Report 2023. Every element, from source code to deployment, is a potential vulnerability point. 

Ignoring these risks can lead to catastrophic data breaches and operational disruptions. 

How can I mitigate my risk of exposure to a software supply chain attack?

A thorough security audit is essential for identifying and mitigating risks in your software supply chain. So where do you start?

1. Build an inventory of your software supply chain

Map your entire software supply chain to understand where vulnerabilities may exist. You need to list all of your software components, as each presents a potential risk. This includes the code your team writes and all the third party libraries, frameworks, and tools you use to build and deploy your software. Don’t forget about database systems, orchestration tools, and cloud services. For each component, understand its:

  • origin 
  • trustworthiness
  • dependencies 

Without the right tooling this can be difficult, especially if you have multiple teams that are on different technology stacks or using separate DevOps tools. You need a fully-managed software supply chain product like Cloudsmith to know what artifacts your teams are using and where the potential risks lie. 

2. Assess vulnerabilities

Now that you have mapped each component in your software supply chain, you need to assess its security posture against known vulnerabilities and industry standards. Tools like Cloudsmith Navigator, a free tool for analyzing the quality and security of OSS packages, can give you insights into the quality and trustworthiness of open-source packages.In addition, standards like the Dependency-check from OWASP can help you determine your dependencies and check them for publicly disclosed vulnerabilities.

3. Reduce + remove vulnerabilities 

Once you’ve identified potential vulnerabilities in your chain, it's time to formulate a plan to address identified vulnerabilities, including updating or replacing insecure components.This may include patching software, updating systems, changing code, or even replacing certain tools or components. It’s crucial to have a detailed action plan for each type of vulnerability.

4. Continuously monitor to protect your supply chain:  

Your software supply chain is not static. Every day your development teams and the global open-source community make software changes that could impact your security. New vulnerabilities are being discovered and new threats emerge. To maintain security in your software supply chain, you must automate ongoing surveillance of the supply chain while enabling your developers to continue innovating at pace.

How can Cloudsmith help?

Use Cloudsmith to streamline your audit process and secure your software supply chain. 

Build your software supply chain inventory by creating a single source of truth for all your software assets with Cloudsmith. We provide one home for all your components, supporting all of your programming languages, teams, and development pipelines. Each and every package pulled into Cloudsmith is fully traceable, giving you insight into what software was built using what dependencies and by which teams and developers.

Trust the packages your teams are using. Artifacts coming into your Cloudsmith repositories are subject to the policies and controls that you configure. SBOMs contain all of the components and dependencies, and Cloudsmith ensures the authenticity and origin of your artifacts by scanning your packages for malware and CVE. 

React automatically.  Cloudsmith makes it easy to establish rules-based protocols for handling low, medium, and critical software vulnerabilities so that risks are stopped and quarantined before they can do damage.

Stay in control of your software supply chain. Build usage policies, pin dependencies, segregate environments, and use package promotion workflows to ensure the right teams, people, and systems have access to use the packages that meet your specific needs.

Continuously monitor and protect your software supply chain. Cloudsmith is cloud-based, offering enhanced speed, security, and ease of use. Our multi-tenant, global infrastructure means you can rely on the platform to scale to meet your needs and not worry about troublesome upgrades that lead to lost productivity and developer frustration.  

Mastering software supply chain security audits is not just a matter of implementing a set of procedures; it's a continuous commitment to safeguarding your digital ecosystem. As we've seen with high-profile breaches and the rise in attack frequency and sophistication, no organization can afford to overlook this crucial aspect of cybersecurity. 

By maintaining an inventory of your software supply chain, vigilantly assessing vulnerabilities, promptly addressing them, and continuously monitoring for new threats, you can create a robust defence against the ever-evolving landscape of digital risks. 

About Cloudsmith

Cloudsmith plays a pivotal role in securing the software supply chains of diverse and global clients like PagerDuty, Stack Overflow, FontAwesome, Shopify, and RabbitMQ. With Cloudsmith, the fast, modern artifact management platform, you can ensure that your software supply chain remains secure, resilient, and ahead of the curve in cybersecurity. Start your free trial today.

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