/jul 27, 2023

Why SCA is Critical for Securing the Software Supply Chain

By Natalie Tischler

Weaknesses within software supply chains create a foothold for exploitation from cyberattacks. The problem is so significant that even the White House released an Executive Order that speaks directly on this topic. “The Federal Government must take action to rapidly improve the security and integrity of the software supply chain,” states the Executive Order emphatically. Now, you may be wondering what your organization can do to mitigate this risk. Let’s dive into understanding risk in the software supply chain and the solutions currently available for improving your supply chain security and overall cybersecurity posture. 

Understanding Risk in the Software Supply Chain 

To understand risk in the software supply chain, one must understand its components. These components include source code, version control, build systems, dependencies, testing deployment, continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD), release management, and monitoring. Each of these components has different risks associated with it; here are two examples. 

  • Source Code: Unauthorized access to source code can lead to intellectual property theft or the introduction of malicious code. 

  • Dependencies: Outdated or vulnerable dependencies can be exploited by attackers to gain access to the system or perform code injection attacks. 

For a deeper dive into how different components play a role in producing secure software, download The DevSecOps Playbook

Understanding the risks also means understanding the consequences. When it comes to looking at the impact of supply chain attacks on organizations, look no further than the SolarWinds hack. This cyberattack targeted the software supply chain and affected numerous organizations, including government organizations and private companies. In 2022, SolarWinds settled a $26 million lawsuit over the data breach. 

How SCA Works to Secure the Software Supply Chain 

Software Composition Analysis (SCA) is a software security practice that helps secure the software supply chain by identifying and managing the risks associated with third-party and open-source software components used in a software application.  

Key capabilities of an effective SCA solution include component identification, vulnerability scanning, risk assessment, remediation guidance, dependency graphs, automatic policy enforcement, and Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) generation. Together, these key capabilities form an organized system through which teams can proactively identify and address security risk in third-party and open-source components, reducing the risk of supply chain attacks like the SolarWinds incident. 

Benefits of SCA for Software Supply Chain Security 

Now that you understand how SCA works, let’s look at the benefits of getting SCA scans up and running effectively. SCA offers several benefits for enhancing software supply chain security, including enhanced visibility, vulnerability detection, and managed license risks. 

You can’t fix what you can’t find. Comprehensive visibility into the components of your software (and any vulnerabilities inside those components) is a fundamental benefit of SCA. Using Veracode SCA, you can detect with our premium database new vulnerabilities in your code, including those that never made it into the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) or have yet to be registered. 

Another benefit of SCA is license compliance and risk mitigation. Just because software is open source doesn’t automatically mean you have the license to use it. Detect license risk, manage usage, and avoid penalties using SCA, and your legal team with thank you. 

A Best Practice for Implementing SCA to Secure Cloud Development 

One of the most important practices for implementing SCA to secure cloud development is integration and automation, so as to not disrupt developer workflow. Automation is hugely important for scaling SCA to the point where it can be most effective at reducing risk. Integration means that when you’re exploring vendors, you make sure you find out whether you can immediately test in your environment. With the right solution, you should be able to launch scans right from the command line. 

In fact, Veracode just released SCA for JetBrain in early July. The extension is available via the JetBrains Marketplace. This release is in addition to one earlier this year: SCA for VS Code. Try our plugin and take for a spin by downloading the extension in the Microsoft Marketplace.

Now developers can remediate the vulnerabilities within their code – without leaving the IDE. Giving developers the power to remediate early keeps vulnerabilities from getting any further into the supply chain greatly reduces risk. Schedule a demo to see how we can help you integrate SCA today. 

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By Natalie Tischler

Natalie Tischler believes in a world where software is built secure from the start. She writes content for Veracode that focuses on empowering harmony between Security and Development teams.