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Overcoming Open Source Vulnerabilities in the Software Supply Chain

By securing access to code and running scans against all code changes, developers can better prevent — and detect — potential risks and vulnerabilities.

Microsoft Security, Microsoft

September 6, 2023

3 Min Read
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As workforces grow increasingly digital, developers are looking for new ways to streamline their workloads. Currently, 78% of businesses report using open source software in some component of their networks, and more than 90% of developers leverage open source components to create proprietary applications.

While open source is critical for helping software developers scale at the pace of business, it can also lead to serious security issues in the software supply chain, such as hijacked software updates or code vulnerabilities. 

Once a cybercriminal has gained persistent, privileged access to your network via the software supply chain, they can steal data, extort payment, monitor activity within your network, disable critical systems, and more. Developers and security practitioners face these types of challenges every day. 

Read on to learn how you can overcome these risks and create a more secure software supply chain moving forward.

The Move to Shift Left In the Software Development Life Cycle 

Software supply chain attacks typically target developers and the systems they use. These attacks often contain multiple separate incidents and usually begin with an initial compromise. And while threat actors may target developers with their initial hacks, their end goal is usually to compromise downstream consumers. 

Today we're seeing a growing trend of threat groups shifting left earlier on in the software development life cycle. This can be seen in incidents like Solorigate and 3CX — both long-con attacks in which threat actors bided their time before enacting their attacks on the objective. 

But as cyberattackers shift left, so too must security practitioners and software developers. More and more, we're seeing organizations work to prevent cyberattacks by creating secure environments earlier on in the software development process. This can include everything from the devices and apps that developers use to login with their credentials. But what's really critical are code, builds, and deployments. By securing access to code and running scans against all code changes, software developers can better prevent and detect potential risks and vulnerabilities.

Building in Security Is Key to Future-Proofing Operations

Implementing secure design and secure coding practices into every phase of software development enables organizations to safeguard their operations against both common threats and hidden vulnerabilities that may be found when integrating open source components. There are a number of ways for organizations to adopt built-in security, one of which is the Secure Supply Chain Consumption Framework (S2C2F).

The S2C2F relies on threat-based, risk-reduction methods to protect against threats in open source software (OSS). It uses a consumption-focused framework to outline real-world OSS supply chain threats and includes platform- and software-agnostic focuses. These focuses are divided into eight areas of practice: ingest, inventory, update, enforce, audit, scan, rebuild, and fix/upstream. 

Within each practice are certain requirements for addressing threats and reducing risk. These requirements are further broken down into different levels of maturity to help developers and security practitioners advance to a higher level of security. When paired with a producer-focused, artifact-oriented framework, S2C2F acts as a comprehensive guide for building and consuming software securely.

Ultimately, a secure software supply chain requires numerous safety measures to prevent threat groups from infiltrating the supply chain and causing exponential harm. Adopting built-in security is one such way to inject security earlier on in the software development life cycle.

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Microsoft Security


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