Software Supply Chain Security: Three Risks to Address ASAP 

Robust, end-to-end cybersecurity is essential for operational integrity – even more so when it comes to aspects of your business that have a lot of moving pieces and parts. Take software supply chain security (SSCS), for example. Since it’s often the linchpin between several different systems, it’s also a frequent target in cyberattacks.

Protecting that code and the networks of information it powers comes down to a few key frameworks. Ahead we unpack which ones cybersecure companies are using to address their most vulnerable software supply chain threats.

What Is SSCS and Why You Can’t Ignore It

Security breaches can happen in any department, industry, or tech stack. And while disruptive, they have the potential to be contained in a way that a SSCS attack may not.

Because your software supply chain is the sum of interconnected systems, infrastructures, processes and protocols, internal and external tools, and people that engage in application development, anything and everything in your software development lifecycle (SDLC) is potentially at risk without the right safeguards.

If you have any software that is unpatched, open source, or that contains third-party code, it’s an immediate starting place to begin fortifying. “Most software today isn’t written from scratch – it’s typically a combination of software artifacts containing open source software,” explains Geek Flare. “However, these software artifacts are subject to vulnerabilities, and developers have less control over source code from a third party or any changes made to a software artifact over time.”

Once you’ve taken inventory, you can make your way down the list of potential threats, any one of which could create a domino effect that halts your daily operations.

Understanding Software Supply Chain Threats

As with any breach, it’s important to consider the internal and external ways your software supply chain may be at risk.

A 2022 Cost of Insider Threats: Global Report reveals, insider threats are on the rise in cost and frequency, jumping 44% in two years and carrying a $15+ million costs per incident price tag. Be it stolen logins, leaked proprietary data, data loss, file corruption, or an accidental malware download, the down time and loss of confidence in your brand can have long term ramifications.

Looking outward, any single one of these attack techniques (or a combination thereof) can originate outside your organization and disrupt your software supply chain. The key is knowing which entry points in your software lifecycle need more coverage.

The update phase. Security bugs and the new software versions that fix them are common. Unfortunately, so are hijacked updates containing malware or that give threat actors access to and control of your software.
Malicious code signing. This type of authentication disruptor puts the integrity of your code at risk and can replace its true authors with threat actors. When the systems confuse a hacker for a trusted vendor, malicious code can easily make its way into your software.
More open-source oversight. If compromised code makes its way into public code libraries, unknowing developers have the potential to adapt it into their code. That means code blocks from any number of third-party sources could be compromised.

Software Supply Chain Security

Considerations for Implementing a Secure Software Development Framework

All software has to contend with inherent vulnerabilities. If exploited, the linkages of your software supply chain can have a cascading impact on the rest of your systems and operations.

With a dedicated eye towards risk management planning, take some time to communicate as a team and set up concrete security controls that insulate you from harm. Be sure to involve your vendors and customers in this process, too.

As Google reminds us, “The overall integrity of your supply chain is only as strong as its most vulnerable part. Neglecting an attack vector increases risk of attack in that part of your supply chain.”
They recommend implementing changes and updates in gradual shifts. These are the frameworks and best practices that add up to a varied, more comprehensive approach to your software supply chain’s security.