In recent times, software hacks have become the order of the day. Malware and viruses somehow find a way to creep into the software development life cycle, with the developers and end users bearing the brunt of the issue.
Various components of the software supply chain are at risk, and there’s often only telling of a security breach once the product has been deployed and released.
The U.S. government has taken steps to discourage this worrying trend, with President Biden signing an Executive Order calling for a revamp of cybersecurity standards in the public sector.
This article will closely examine six ways to prevent supply chain attacks. But first, let’s delve briefly into the software supply chain and see just how crucial it is in developing a software product.
What is a software supply chain?
The software supply chain comprises the processes, tools, code libraries, and other components used to develop, build and deploy a software product such as a Mac or iOS app.
With software development being such a complex procedure, it naturally demands several integrated components to function optimally. More often than not, the process of developing each component of the software is insufficient to match the pace of product release and delivery.
That is to say, not all software components are proprietary. Third-party libraries and code make up a huge chunk of the mix, which is essential, given that software updates, deployments, and releases are carried out at a frenetic pace within the industry.
As such, there’s no time to code every single component. This is why the software supply chain is crucial, as are the vendors providing the required components. When their methods, or code, are compromised, it introduces a massive security risk into the project, with the developers inadvertently incorporating these vulnerabilities into their processes.
As such, it’s important to know what is software supply chain security. We’ll discuss about this and more in the section below:
Preventing supply chain attacks
A supply chain attack is a cyberattack involving a security breach in an organization facilitated via supply chain vulnerabilities.
Software vendors typically require private data access for efficient user integration. As such, if a software vendor is breached, it could also result in the loss of user data.
Software vendors, like the developers of cross-compatible software, web extensions, and other integrations, tend to have vast user networks. Thus, a vulnerability in one vendor’s product can affect several businesses simultaneously.
For this reason, supply chain attacks are doubly efficient. Hackers don’t need to target multiple organizations painstakingly. Instead, they can figuratively kill multiple birds with one stone, compromising cybersecurity in several organizations by targeting a single vendor.
Preventing supply chain attacks is such a big issue because organizations often have no means of preventing them. With the source code, you may have a degree of control, as are the tools and components you choose. However, you have no say in the tools and components chosen by the vendors.
While there’s no such thing as “100% unhackable”, using a combination of proper security measures and tools can help to mitigate the risks and prevent supply chain attacks.
Here are some steps to take:
Honeytokens are fictitious resources or records that are inserted into legitimate databases. In other words, they’re decoys posing as important and sensitive organizational data. When hackers interact with them, it activates signals that alert the organization of malicious activity within the network.
As such, honeytokens are tripwire mechanisms of a sort that warn organizations in advance of potential security breaches. Another advantage of using honeytokens is that they not only give a warning but also provide insightful detail regarding the methods that hackers use to breach security.
Honeytokens are essential for vendors and work well, provided the cyber attack is not launched from behind a firewall. In such cases, a more efficient tool like Scribe will be required.
Know your vendors
Another way to prevent supply chain attacks is to know each vendor and their relationship with your extended software supply chain.
The cyber ecosystem is quite massive in scope, and organizations may be unaware of certain relationships and dependencies in the software supply chain. As such, comprehensive visibility of vendors is encouraged to boost security management and tracking, which is essential for preventing supply chain attacks.
Of course, cybersecurity tools are also great in this instance (Scribe would be a good example), as they provide end-to-end security in the software supply chain.
Continuously scan GitHub repositories
Supply chain attacks often result in the leaking of sensitive data, which is damaging to an organization’s reputation. By continuously scanning open source repositories like GitHub, you can get real-time notifications in the instance that such secrets have been published there.
Even better, you can prevent the leaks, depending on the specifics of the hack. Using the Search and Events APIs, you get close to real-time data on commits for your organization.
Use an Identity Access Management (IAM) system
Although cybersecurity tools provide a more rounded solution to securing your software supply chain, using an IAM is an efficient measure to help you tackle the problem of unrestricted access.
With it, all accounts with access and privileges are duly accounted for, and exposure risks from old or dormant accounts are mitigated.
Additionally, you should ensure to encrypt internal data with military-grade encryption protocols, such as the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). This makes it tougher for hackers to create the backdoors they need to steal data in software supply chain attacks.
Use cybersecurity tools
All the measures highlighted above are efficient ways to prevent supply chain attacks. However, automating these processes can save you a lot of time and ensure that your pipeline is secure at every stage of product development, testing, build, and deployment.
Malicious incursions into software components are quite commonplace, with various stages of the development life cycle at threat.
There is the onus on DevOps engineers and software developers to find ways to protect their pipelines, given the threats that abound.
If you choose the right tools, there’s no need to worry about these incursions, as it virtually audits all the components and provides full security reports and actionable insights.
More security tips
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