In recent years the SolarWinds and Log4j breaches have spotlighted the importance of software supply chain security. Hackers have become increasingly sophisticated in their methods and now target the cloud-based software that organizations rely on, leading to significant security breaches. It’s essential for organizations to prioritize their security posture by implementing best practices for software supply chain security.

To assure the security of their software supply chains, businesses must understand the different supply chain “levels” in their operations and the risks associated with each. The software supply chain includes various components from open-source libraries to proprietary software, and every component is a potential target for hackers.

This article will explore the best practices for securing your software supply chain, including vetting third-party vendors, implementing security controls throughout the development process, and regularly monitoring for vulnerabilities.

What Is Software Supply Chain Security?

Software supply chain security is just what the name suggests: a cybersecurity regime thrown across all the software your company uses in its services and products. That software supply chain could include:

  • Standard desktop software employees use to manage operations;
  • Custom-developed software for specific needs at your company;
  • Cloud-based software you rent from tech vendors;
  • Software used by your suppliers that might interact with your own IT systems;
  • Software provided by third parties for products you sell (say, an operating system you purchase to install on hardware products you then sell to your own customers).

The software supply chain itself encompasses all vendors within an organization’s ecosystem that affect your company’s software code. This includes software development agencies, source code developers, application security providers, automation tools, API connections, and deployment environments. Software supply chain security assures that all those components are free from security flaws and that the code is securely developed, tested, and distributed.

The 2020 GitHub State of the Octoverse report found that an average software repository had more than 200 dependencies. As open-source code is not written by the user, it’s essential to have a comprehensive vetting process for each source. Implementing best security practices is crucial to effectively managing the software supply chain.

See also

Best Practices to Mitigate Vendor Risk Within Your Supply Chain

How to Mitigate Software Supply Chain Attacks and Threats

Businesses can mitigate software supply chain threats by taking the following steps:

  • Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment of your software vendors, including analysis of codebases, to identify potential supply chain threats, vulnerabilities, and security issues.
  • Establish clear guidelines and standards for software suppliers, including requirements for application security testing, to assure the quality and security of their products.
  • Develop a formal vendor management program that includes regular supplier assessments and initiatives to remediate any identified security issues.
  • Regularly monitor and evaluate your software supply chain using automated testing and analysis tools to detect vulnerabilities, backdoors, and other security risks.
  • Establish clear communication channels with software suppliers, including open-source projects, to ensure transparency and visibility throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC).
  • Limit the number of third-party software dependencies and carefully vet any third-party code before incorporating it into your software to minimize the risk of introducing security vulnerabilities.
  • Implement access controls and other security measures, such as the principle of least privilege, to limit the risk of unauthorized access to your software supply chain and prevent potential attacks.
  • Incorporate secure software development practices to limit the risk of introducing security vulnerabilities.
  • Incorporate security testing and analysis into the software development lifecycle to identify and remediate potential vulnerabilities.
  • Train employees and stakeholders on software supply chain security best practices, including identifying and responding to potential security risks.
  • Implement multi-factor authentication for all systems and applications that contain sensitive data to prevent unauthorized access.

What Is the Biggest Threat to Supply Chain Security?

Various factors can threaten supply chain security. Some of the most significant include:

  • Cybersecurity risks. Malicious code, malware, and data breaches can compromise the security of the supply chain, leading to the theft of sensitive information, disruption of operations, and loss of revenue. Using open-source software can also increase the attack surface, creating additional vulnerabilities attackers can exploit.
  • Physical security risks. Theft, damage, and sabotage of goods, equipment, and facilities can cause significant disruption to the supply chain, leading to delays and increased costs. Security teams should conduct regular assessments of the supply chain to identify potential vulnerabilities and improve security measures.
  • Regulatory compliance. Supply chain compliance is essential for ensuring that all partners and suppliers in the supply chain meet required regulatory standards. Failure to meet these requirements can result in fines, legal action, and reputation damage, leading to disruption in the supply chain. Security teams should conduct regular assessments to identify compliance gaps and take appropriate action to address them.

Protect Your Supply Chain With ZenGRC

It’s vital to clearly understand your threat landscape to prevent supply chain attacks against software products. The ZenGRC can help you achieve enhanced and granular visibility into your supply chain risks, making it easy to identify and track potential threats. You can also simplify collaboration efforts by automating workflows and integrating with your critical systems. By storing all relevant vendor documentation in a centralized repository, you can save time and eliminate manual work.

Plus, ZenGRC allows businesses to track compliance with multiple frameworks simultaneously. This eliminates redundant efforts and streamlines compliance.

Schedule a free demo now to see ZenGRC in action.

Best Practices to Mitigate Vendor
Risk Within Your Supply Chain