Software supply chains are complex and dynamic systems. The way software is produced, bought, and sold has changed dramatically in recent years. There are many benefits of a software supply chain, including lower costs and faster time to market. However, these advantages come with numerous risks for companies that don’t take security into account from the very beginning. For example, the software supply chain can make it easier for attackers to steal customer data or inject malicious code into common applications used across an organization.
Let’s see the risks associated with Software Supply Chain.
1) Vendor Security
A common way the software supply chain can lead to security issues is by introducing third parties that don’t have secure software development practices. This can happen at any stage of the software supply chain. For example, third-party software vendors may not have a secure development lifecycle (SDLC) in place. This means they may not be following secure software development best practices, like conducting threat modeling.
Third-party vendors are usually used for plug-ins and add-ons, such as analytics services, data storage, and payment gateways. They may also provide software that connects to the company’s central software. If those vendors don’t follow secure software development best practices, they can introduce security issues that the customer’s software must deal with. This can result in software bugs that cause service disruptions or jeopardize data privacy and security.
2) Third-Party Code
Third-party code is another risk in the software supply chain. This can include open-source software, code libraries, and frameworks. Such code is usually free and available online to be copied and used in commercial products. Companies can also buy third-party codes. Using open-source code is a good way to accelerate software development by reusing existing code. However, developers may not understand the code they’re using. As a result, they may overlook vulnerabilities or mistakenly assume the code is secure.
There’s no requirement for developers to vet open-source code for security issues before using it. It’s also difficult to trace the code back to its original author to report the bugs. Similarly, when companies buy third-party code, they’re taking the code as it currently is, with all its security issues. There’s usually no obligation for the vendor to fix any problems.
3) Cloud Infrastructure
Many companies are moving to cloud infrastructure, which involves hosting servers remotely. It’s common to use cloud computing service providers, especially for large companies. However, moving data and applications to the cloud doesn’t guarantee security. And it can open up new security vulnerabilities. The several security issues to consider are:
- Data privacy and ownership – Data should be encrypted in transit and at rest, and customers should be able to determine who has access to it.
- Access control – Cloud providers should use multi-factor authentication and provide granular access controls so only authorized people can access the system.
- Application security – Cloud providers should perform rigorous penetration testing and have a bug bounty program so hackers can report issues and get rewarded. –
- Infrastructure security – Cloud providers should use tools like firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and automatic patching to defend against attacks.
4) Data Transparency
When companies outsource parts of their software supply chain, they may not have a clear view of how their data is stored and managed. This can happen in the cloud as well as on-premises. If a vendor uses a custom database or data storage system that isn’t disclosed to the customer, the company may experience a data breach without knowing it. This can lead to data loss, where data is lost permanently. It can also result in data theft, where an attacker gains access to data without permission.
These are just a few examples of software supply chain risk. There are countless others, including:
- Poorly designed architecture – Architecture refers to the design of a system, including the hardware, software, network, and database. If the architecture is poorly designed, it could result in performance issues, data loss, or data theft.
- Insufficient capacity – If a vendor is overwhelmed with work and doesn’t have enough capacity to handle the customer’s order, it may result in delays or poor-quality work.
- Vendor compliance issues – If a vendor doesn’t follow common security standards, it may violate the terms of its contract or put the customer at legal and regulatory risk.
The software supply chain can be a source of risk, but it can also be managed through due diligence during procurement, ongoing monitoring, and strong risk management. To do this, companies must adopt a holistic approach that considers all aspects of the chain and doesn’t stop at simply auditing vendors for compliance.
At the same time, vendors can take steps to protect their customers from supply chain threats by implementing best practices like threat modeling, building in-house security into their code, and conducting code audits.
Contact our experts today to know more about the software supply chain.