Sun. Sep 24th, 2023

An attack on a supply chain is one type of cyberattack in which the attacker targets a supply chain to access sensitive information or disrupt business operations. It is possible to compromise a vendor, supplier, or third-party provider, and then use that access to gain entry into the target company’s system. These attacks are difficult to detect or prevent, as they usually originate outside of the target company’s network.

Supply-chain attacks can be seen in the SolarWinds attack, where a Russian hacking team compromised the software updates of a software firm to gain access into multiple networks within the government and private sectors, or the NotPetya malware, which spread malware through a compromised update.

This article will explain the risk to supply chains, and how a new security tool called software composition analysis can be used to mitigate it.

Understanding Supply Chain Threat

Software supply chains consist of complex systems with many interconnected parties. Any disruption can have serious consequences for consumers, businesses, and the economy.

What you need to know about supply chain threats

  • Dependency: Many businesses rely on a global network of partners to manufacture and distribute products. Any disruptions to these links can lead to cascading effects on the rest of the supply chain. This could result in delays, higher costs, or even a complete shutdown.
  • Vulnerability – Supply chains are susceptible to a variety of risks including natural disasters and cyberattacks. They can also be affected by geopolitical events or pandemics. These systems are interconnected, so a problem at one end of the chain could quickly spread to another.
  • Resilience – Building resilience in supply chains will help to mitigate the impact of disruptions. Diversifying partners and suppliers, creating redundancy for critical processes, and developing contingency planning can be part of this.
  • Collaboration is key: Communication and collaboration between supply chain partners will help identify and address potential threats. Transparency and trust between partners are key to improving the visibility of supply chain operations.

What is Software Composition Analysis? How does it assist with the threat to the supply chain?

SCA is a method used to assess and identify the security risks of using third-party components within an application. SCA Tools scan the source code of an application and its dependencies in order to identify software components. They also check these against known licenses and vulnerabilities.

SCA allows companies to assess and mitigate any security risks that may be associated with the use of third-party software and make informed decisions regarding which software components they will use in their applications.

SCA tools offer a variety of features to help protect against supply chain threats, including:

  • Vulnerability Scanning: SCA Tools scan the code of an application and its dependencies to find known vulnerabilities. They provide detailed information on any vulnerabilities found. This allows companies to identify and fix any vulnerabilities before an attacker can exploit them.
  • License Compliance: SCA Tools check the licenses for all third-party components of software used in an application to ensure that the company is complying with any legal obligations related to the use of these components.
  • Outdated Software Identification: SCA Tools can help identify components of the software that are no longer supported. This allows companies to avoid incorporating them into their applications.
  • Automatic updates: Some SCA Tools automatically update an application with the latest versions of software components. This ensures that the application remains up-to-date and protected from known vulnerabilities.

Software Composition Analysis: Tips and Tricks

Adopting SCA tools is a challenge, even though SCA can provide a powerful defensive tool for your supply chains. Consider these best practices for a smoother SCA implementation:

Find a developer-friendly tool

It is a good idea to find a tool that’s developer-friendly for SCA for a number of reasons.

  • Easy integration: An SCA tool that is developer-friendly can be easily integrated into the development process so that developers can scan their code quickly and easily for vulnerabilities, and fix any issues they find. It is easier to use a tool that reduces the amount of time and effort needed to perform SCA.
  • Results that are clear and actionable: An SCA tool designed for developers provides results that are both clear and actionable, making it easier for them to understand any vulnerabilities found and fix them. This allows developers to quickly and efficiently fix any vulnerabilities, reducing the risks of a supply-chain attack.
  • Automation: An SCA tool that is developer-friendly offers features such as automatic updating of dependencies. This means developers don’t have to manually update their code. This reduces human error and saves time for developers.
  • Customizable: Developer-friendly SCA tools are customizable. This means developers can configure them to meet their specific application needs. This ensures that the tool will be tailored to the specific vulnerabilities in the application, and provide the most accurate results.

Integrate SCA directly into your CI/CD pipeline

The Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipeline should incorporate Software Composition Analysis (SCA) for several reasons:

  • Real-time security Integrating SCA in the CI/CD Pipeline means vulnerabilities are identified and then addressed in real time before attackers exploit them. This ensures that the application will always be secure, and helps reduce the risk of an attack on the supply chain.
  • Integration of SCA in the CI/CD pipeline leads to faster deployment as vulnerabilities can be identified and fixed before the application is released. This ensures that the application will always be up-to-date and secure.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Integrating SCA in the CI/CD process is cost-effective because vulnerabilities are identified early and fixed before they cause damage. It reduces costs for repairing vulnerabilities and restoring systems following a supply-chain attack.
  • Monitoring: Integration of SCA in the CI/CD process allows for continuous monitoring, allowing vulnerabilities to be identified and fixed as soon as possible, reducing supply chain attacks.

The conclusion of the article is:

Supply chain attacks are designed to target the weakest link in the supply chain in order to cause damage to all parties involved in this chain. SolarWinds’ attack is a good example of how successful supply chain attacks are able to cause massive damage to many parties.

SCA tools provide a detailed evaluation of licenses and components from third parties, which can protect against supply-chain attacks. This visibility allows developers to identify security vulnerabilities that could be exploited in supply chain attacks.

By Tejas

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