The hyperconnectivity brought about by modern technology has opened doors to an integrated world that can be accessed almost effortlessly. Hyperconnectivity essentially has become a vulnerability. No matter how secure you think your network is, you are only as strong as your most vulnerable link. And every company these days is a software company. This means that the attack surface is growing constantly and expanding the impact radius of a software supply chain attack.
The SolarWinds attack has been a wake-up call that has helped organizations and the world at large realize that new tools and approaches to security in the supply chain are desperately required.
What was unique about the SolarWinds attack is that the cybercriminals used the access they got by compromising SolarWinds itself to insert malware into the build process. This then allowed them to target SolarWinds customers that deployed this backdoor update. Since these updates were signed off by original vendors, there was no reason to suspect that they were compromised or were a threat to other systems. And this is where lies the genius of a supply chain security attack.
Over two years after the infamous SolarWinds hack, the incident was and continues to be one of the biggest espionage campaigns to be discovered. It is still at the forefront of conversations about cybersecurity. And why wouldn’t it be? The knowledge that software build systems can be compromised with a single malicious code inserted into components from reputable developers was significantly scary.
The growing importance of supply chain security
When securing your supply chain, it is key to consider everything from contracting to execution.
Organizations need to be prepared to keep attackers out as well as act quickly and minimize damage when their defenses falter.
The adoption of initiatives like strong multi-factor authentication technology, improved asset discovery, etc., are a few things that can help improve the security of a supply chain. Apart from these, there are a few other methods listed below.
There has been a growing interest in the concept known as Software Bill of Materials (SBOM).
An SBOM is a list of ingredients, open-source as well as third-party, that make up an application. It is sort of like a nest inventory that details all the items included in a product. An SBOM also consists of licenses that govern these items, the versions of the items used, and their patch status. This knowledge is critical as it provides security teams with a complete view of vulnerabilities present in an application.
Monitoring key suppliers can help detect when something goes wrong. Auditing suppliers regularly and having a clear understanding of what suppliers you are working with and what kind of access they have to your data is significant in securing your supply chain. Additionally, cyber threat intelligence enables organizations to assess their risk exposure to determine how to manage their risks.
3. Penetration testing
Testing the security in the design before introducing new technology is important. Various third-party vendors offer this as a service.
What is involved in supply chain security?
Supply chain security is a broad area that focuses on dealing with internal and external risk management, physical and cyber threats, protecting systems, and mitigating risks. It involves both, physical security relating to products and cybersecurity relating to software and services. A great supply chain security strategy contains risk management principles and cyber defense.
When it comes to the physical aspect of supply chain security, the things involved are: checking paperwork tracking and logging shipments, and auditing vendors.
When it comes to cyber threats, a few of the things listed below are involved.
- Vulnerability litigation:
Running vulnerability scans beforehand to determine security concerns. Fixing substandard password policies, securing networks, fixing poor configurations, etc. This guarantees minimal downtime.
2. Data encryption:
Using the latest standards of encryption policies to protect data of all types. Inspecting file content and other connections that arrive in real time.
Digitizing all manual processes as it is hard to secure data that is not digitized. This also helps leverage a few concepts like data loss prevention, encryption, etc., and bring in teams with security awareness to expertly manage security requirements.
4. Permissioned controls:
Security policies like access management and identity management ensure that sensitive data is being exchanged in a secure way. Privileged user monitoring and database activity monitoring are essential in a multi-faceted environment.
Sonatype’s Nexus Lifecycle solution enables teams to secure the entire software development life cycle at scale. It provides an evolving database of vulnerabilities that can be accessed by teams to detect threats before there even is an attack. The solution helps integrate security vulnerability directly into git repositories that are already in use. Sonatype can adapt according to the varying priorities of organizations as it has a solution for all of them. The software built using their tools is secure enough to fit into any and all rigid security requirements.
The threat landscape is constantly changing and evolving. And software touches all businesses in some capacity. This means a larger attack surface for cybercriminals. Therefore, prioritizing a proactive security strategy is a foundational business imperative. If organizations are looking at successfully securing their supply chain to prevent cyber attacks and/or recover from a cyber attack efficiently, security needs to start playing a more serious and significant role instead of being an afterthought.
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