Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

Software Bill of Materials, or sboms, have long been a straightforward, effective, but sometimes ignored security concept. In the context of software development, it is typical for developers to include elements of codebases from third parties into their programmes. 

Although it saves time compared to spending hours writing code from scratch, there may be security issues. 

For this reason, it’s essential for a developer, technology officer, or security officer to understand the code they insert into their programmes.

The need for SBOM as a security best practice has been underscored by recent attacks on SolarWinds and Log4J, which show that even strong businesses are susceptible to hostile activities. 

Corporations are cautious to use SBOM despite its ability to create a security barrier between attackers and businesses. 

Due to this, the US government has been forced to issue an Executive Order to strengthen cybersecurity, emphasizing the potential importance of sboms.

Conversely, manual SBOM deployment presents challenges for organizations. This article describes SBOM, explores its benefits, and details three techniques for automating the sbom creation.

What does a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) mean?

The Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) is a comprehensive list of every part and piece that goes into making a software product. 

It offers detailed details on dependencies, supply chain connections, and licensing for both proprietary and open source software components.

By giving you complete visibility into the software you are integrating into your product, sboms mainly help you control risk.

The list of ingredients on packaged foods, which includes the number of calories, preservatives used, and other additives like salt, sugar, and flavorings, is analogous to the SBOM. SBOM is derived from the Bill of Materials for the manufacturing sector (BOM).

The bill of materials (BOM) includes organized data on all raw materials, components, and parts used by manufacturers. 

This enables you to quickly identify the source of any damaged component so you can fix it. Similar to this, sboms identify certain components that have security flaws that might damage your software.

Sboms are created to be shared across businesses and are written in machine-readable metadata. It has the following characteristics:

Libraries available for free that are used to create application dependencies

  • Add-ons and plugins for an application
  • Developers create custom source code internally.
  • Examples of component information include versions, license status, and patch information.
  • What use does a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) serve?
  • Money saved

You may employ a streamlined process using sboms to reduce security risks by cutting down on essential time. 

You are able to proactively check for any defective programme components using the stated software components. This greatly lowers the price of effective scanning resources and the financial burden brought on by cyberattacks.

Limit the bloat in the code

You often end up with many versions of the same code when using open-source code blocks. 

Additionally, every version has a unique collection of problems. Code bloat is significantly decreased because to sboms, which let you standardize a shared set of components.

Increasing output

By minimizing unplanned and unscheduled labor, sboms help you increase the efficiency of your workforce. 

If you have greater knowledge about the codebase you’re using, you can more effectively priorities and deploy code modifications. 

You may start fixing bugs after the vulnerable components have been identified, saving yourself the extra work of looking into the impacted components.

Effective surveillance

Your capacity to check for vulnerabilities in the components used in your product increases tenfold with sboms. 

Each component will need to be examined by your team in a thorough and time-consuming procedure to see if it offers any security issues. By enhancing security, you can reassure your customers even more.

Simple EOL administration

It is likely that you will utilize third-party code that has components whose useful lives are about to expire (EOL). 

These parts are no longer maintained by their manufacturer or supplier. You could be aware of EOL components and use sboms to plan for alternative solutions. 

Although they may not be harmful, such components might affect performance.

A successful code review

By giving detailed information on each component and subcomponent inside the programme, sboms facilitate the discovery of vulnerabilities and draw attention to any security problems. 

It also helps you to comprehend how much time and work it takes to maintain a bug-free codebase.

Policy compliance

SBOM functions as a compliance checklist for rules pertaining to which components to use and which to avoid, potential security concerns, and other rules of the same kind. Therefore, using SBOM enables policy compliance.

Why is automation crucial?

Since sboms contain a vast amount of data and are created to be read by computers, handling and processing this data manually might be difficult and time-consuming. 

Automation is thus essential for manufacturing and consuming sboms. Consistency in incorporating all updates as they are released is a key benefit of sbom automation the process. 

Additionally, it ensures that components have been signed and verified using cryptography. Additionally, automation offers ongoing scanning to produce sboms and add them to the CI/CD pipeline.

Automation also has the benefit of operating at “machine speed,” which helps you save time. Instead of manually creating an SBOM, you can concentrate your energy on other important tasks. 

Determining the location of vulnerabilities also becomes an impractically time-consuming task once they are discovered. Additionally, automation enables you to perform routine audits to update and fix newly discovered vulnerabilities.