Cybersecurity is a constantly evolving industry that is more important today than ever before. Our professional and personal lives are reliant on software, so it is vital that the software we use is as safe and secure as possible. This reliance isn’t just consumers handing off the responsibility to companies, though. Consumers have been activists and hold their privacy and security in the highest regard, meaning that companies have to improve their standards and strive to produce teh results consumers want to see.
Today, software programs and platforms are highly secure and use state-of-the-art protective measures to keep user data and information safe. In response to this, cyber criminals have begun to target the software supply chain instead, where there are far more weaknesses and vulnerabilities. If you’re looking for some software supply chain security guidance, we’ve got you covered. Read on to find out more.
The software supply chain
In days gone by, software could be created by a small team featuring just a handful of individuals. However, software today is so complex and sophisticated that it requires an enormous collaborative effort from a range of different professionals and experts. Programmers, designers, artists, and engineers all work together, often remotely and from far flung corners of the globe, to develop the types of software platforms we see in use today.
With so many variables and different factors going into the design and development of modern software, it will come as no surprise to learn that this gives rise to a number of new weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Scammers can target any one of these weaknesses during the development process and gain access to key data and sensitive information. If cybercriminals manage to successfully compromise software, they can install malicious code within the software’s native code, which can then target the end user. This could be catastrophic for both the user and the company that developed the software.
How can this be stopped?
How can you protect your company against these kinds of attacks? You can do so by implementing a software supply chain security policy. One of the first things you can do is to ensure your development process is adhering to the SSDF (NIST 800-218) framework. This set of standards is designed to ensure developers are implementing security and transparency practices and works to reduce infiltration and interference from cybercriminals. The framework has four primary aspects:
- Preparation: Ensuring that everyone involved in the software supply chain is prepared and capable of adhering to security standards
- Protection: Protecting software from attack from rogue third parties
- Production: Producing high quality software that is safe, secure, and that does not pose a security risk to the end user
- Response: Identifying potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the software supply chain and responding to these issues in a prompt and effective manner
Adhering to a framework such as the SSDF (NIST 800-218) can give you an overview of how your software supply chain security initiative should be structured.But what kind of securing measures should be put in place?
The first step you should take is to ensure all logins and permissions systems used during the development of your software are secured. This means using things like two-factor authentication wherever possible to prevent logins from being compromised by scammers.
The development process often involves the use of open-source software or commercially available tools. These are frequent targets for cybercriminals and can be used by scammers to distribute malware across a large network. You should strive to avoid an overreliance on these kinds of tools and work to develop your own systems instead. If you do have to use such tools, you must ensure that you are making use of the latest versions and that all code has been scanned properly prior to use.
You should have a stringent quality control policy in place whereby all code is reviewed and verified by experienced team members. Doing this can allow you to identify and flag poorly code script and take steps to correct it or remove it entirely. Allowing bad code to slip by and make it into your final product can create weaknesses or vulnerabilities further down the line that could be exploited by cybercriminals.
Staying on top of the latest cybersecurity best practices can seem like an impossible task. Software development is highly complex and often involves large, international teams. However, keeping on top of security is paramount and is the only way to ensure your software doesn’t fall victim to an attack. Follow a security framework such as the SSDF (NIST 800-218) and implement your own security initiative and quality control policy to verify contribuotr and scan code for potential weakness. By using the advice that we have outlined in the guide above you will be able to safeguard your development processes and ensure the safety and security of your software.