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SBOMs: 3 Software Security Questions CISOs Need To Answer

Posted by Neil Sheppard on June 13, 2023
SBOMs: 3 Software Security Questions CISOs Need To Answer

SBOMs are essential tools for CISOs that allow them to respond rapidly to open-source software risk. Let's consider three important questions that CISOs will be called on to answer about software supply chain security and how SBOMs can empower them to do so.

Software bills of materials (SBOMs) are becoming a crucial topic for software supply chain license compliance. They're an especially powerful tool for chief information and security officers (CISOs).

When vulnerabilities are detected in commonly used open-source software, CISOs need to be able to immediately answer questions about the impacts for their organization. SBOMs empower them to do that.

This is important, as a Synopsis report found that 81% of commercial code had at least one vulnerability, 53% had licensing conflicts, and 85% were more than four years out of date. Without a way to respond to open-source code risk to software supply chain security (SSCS), CISOs will be left unable to answer three important questions:

  1. How will an open-source software vulnerability impact you?
  2. How can you go about software vulnerability remediation?
  3. How can you prevent similar vulnerabilities in the future?

Let's consider each of these software supply chain security questions and how SBOMs can help you to answer them:

1 How Will An Open-Source Software Vulnerability Impact You?

When a vulnerability is discovered within a commonly used piece of open-source software, the immediate question is 'how big a problem is this for us?' The vulnerability can run from something you can safely ignore, to a situation you need to take immediate action about.

Whether the vulnerability impacts you will depend on whether your organization has used that open-source code with the vulnerability as a building block in your software. How big a threat it is will depend on where it has been used.

The SBOM Solution

Software bills of materials (SBOMs) are essentially ingredient lists for your software. They detail every piece of open-source code that has been used in the creation of your software and makes it easy to see where the vulnerabilities lie.

This empowers you to immediately report back to the board on the risks involved. This is essential in order for any chief information and security officer (CISO) to inspire confidence in their firm's software supply chain security (SSCS).

2 How Can You Go About Software Vulnerability Remediation?

Understanding the impact of the open-source software risk to your organization will allow you to develop a software vulnerability remediation plan. This will involve a multi-faceted approach involving all stakeholders.

You'll need to collaborate with your IT teams, developers, leadership, and various other internal stakeholders. It may also be worth leveraging threat intelligence feeds, security advisories, and other external resources to stay informed about the latest mitigation techniques.

The SBOM Solution

Knowing where in your software supply chain the vulnerabilities exist, and the degree of risk to your organization if each area is breached, is vital to restoring the risk to an acceptable level. That's where SBOMs become vital for software vulnerability remediation.

3 How Can You Prevent Similar Vulnerabilities In The Future?

Addressing a crucial vulnerability is important, but it's not the end of the story. Chief information and security officers (CISOs) also have a responsibility to improve software supply chain security (SSCS), and that also makes life easier when the next vulnerability comes along.

Reducing open-source software risk and improving license compliance requires having a full picture of software supply chain security practices. This includes scrutinizing third-party components, vendor relationships, and code-development processes.

The SBOM Solution

Getting a clear overview of your software supply chain security (SSCS) is vital for software vulnerability remediation, even before vulnerabilities arise. Software Bills of Materials (SBOM) allow for enhanced visibility and transparency, enabling organizations to assess potential risks associated with third-party dependencies and make informed decisions about their software supply chain.

The Limitations Of SCA Tools

Software composition analysis (SCA) tools produce software bills of materials (SBOMs) for your software. Yet, having a selection of SBOMs documenting all the components used in your tech stack is just the beginning.

Once you have your SBOMs, you need to catalog them in an accessible location, so you can search through them and find vulnerabilities as they occur. As SBOM use becomes commonplace, tools to collate and catalog this information will be increasingly vital.

Now that the US government is requiring all the third-party software it employs has SBOM documentation, having regularly updated SBOMs prepared to supply to customers is becoming essential. This is where the LeanIX Value Stream Management (VSM) platform comes in.

READ: SBOM Now Vital For Open Source Software On Executive Order

The LeanIX VSM

The LeanIX Value Stream Management (LeanIX VSM) platform empowers chief information and security officers (CISOs) to speak with confidence about tech risk and associated impacts. Its user-friendly interface and enterprise-level interoperability help to save time, minimize risk, and respond faster to security threats.

Powerful out-of-the-box integrations and easy-to-use APIs will give you a real-time inventory of your services, their software bills of materials (SBOMs), and the teams responsible for them. As a result, CISOs can understand at a glance which services are dependent on a specific library, which teams are responsible, and which products use the service.

To find out more about using the LeanIX VSM to catalog your SBOMs, visit our solution page:

DOWNLOAD: Best Practice Guide To Securing Software Supply Chains

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