When we think about software development, we usually think about complex technical concepts, thousands of lines of code written by development teams. It is not usual to think about the development of software with a supply chain.
Besides, it is interesting to note that this term is much more associated with the world of industry because it’s very easy to imagine a product’s supply chain, like a television. However, this topic is often neglected in the software development process due to a lack of knowledge of the term within the application framework.
Our goal here is to discuss the importance of the software supply chain in ensuring the reliability and integrity of the software we use daily.
Understanding what is Supply Chain
Before delving into the topic, it is vital to understand the meaning of supply chain in software development. When we think of the software industry, the supply chain is associated with components, libraries, frameworks, and everything used in building software. These components can be developed internally or by third parties.
And here are the crucial question. How can we believe in these components made by others? How do we know that these components are not compromised by an attacker trying to explore a weakness in our software or on these components?
Now it’s the moment that Supply Chain takes place. At the same time, we can bring to this scenario another component of the supply chain; I’m talking about SBOM.
Practices in Supply Chain
Also, we have several examples of a breach in the supply chain; companies have already had their applications compromised, or even their internal structure compromised, with targeted attacks or using third-party components. These incidents highlight the importance of establishing strict security processes at every supply chain step.
Developers can significantly reduce the risk of compromised applications by taking a secure approach to the supply chain. Here are some best practices for ensuring security in this area:
- Reliable sources: When selecting libraries and frameworks, make sure they come from reputable sources. Check vendors’ reputations and review their security history. If possible, give preference to widely adopted and actively maintained libraries. Software inventory mechanisms such as SBOM are a fundamental point for ensuring a general understanding of what we have as components of our applications.
- Security in Containers: Today, we are increasingly linked to cloud structures based on containers, and these images must be used safely. So building secure images is a good first step.
- Regular Updates: Keeping software dependencies up to date is essential to ensure any known vulnerabilities are fixed. Keep track of security announcements and apply updates as they become available.
- . Integrity Check: Before incorporating a dependency into your application, verify that it has not been modified or compromised. This can be done through hashes (cryptographic summaries) or digital signatures verifying the downloaded files’ integrity.
- Security Audits: Performing security audits from time to time is a good practice to identify any potential risks. This involves reviewing the source code of libraries and frameworks and conducting penetration tests on your own software.
- Information sharing: Collaboration among the developer community is key. Share information about discovered vulnerabilities and work together to mitigate risks. Participating in forums and discussion groups can be a great way to stay up-to-date and learn from others.
In other words, these practices only consider development aspects, and we have not yet said anything about the cloud structure that supports this application or even the performance of third-party teams that often work directly with development processes but do not have the same safety criteria.
Security and Development
We need to understand that building software is a complex process covering many points, not just your development team or your supplier who was hired to create your application.
Also, we believe that by implementing these best practices, developers will build a strong foundation for securing their applications. After all, secure software is the software we can trust and protect our personal data and sensitive information.
In an increasingly digital world, software security cannot be overlooked. The supply chain plays an important role in this regard, ensuring that the components used are reliable and free of vulnerabilities.
Therefore, developers must be mindful of security at all stages of software development, from library selection to regular audits. Only then will we be able to enjoy safe and reliable applications in our daily lives.