How Zero Trust Strengthens the Software Supply Chain

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The escalation of digital transformation since the beginning of the pandemic has forced us to rethink cybersecurity and the software supply chain. As the global supply chain becomes more interconnected and complex, organizations are increasingly turning to third-party software supply chain providers to streamline operations, reduce costs, and offer a full stack of solutions.

However, third-party vendors often leave software security gaps and their customers vulnerable to an attack.

A recent study by the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity on emerging supply chain attacks found that 66% of attacks focus on the supplier’s code.

What is software supply chain security, and why does it matter?

Software Supply Chain Security refers to the risks of using third-party software components in software development. These risks include vulnerabilities in the software, malicious code inserted by attackers, and other security issues that could compromise the security and integrity of the software.

Developers utilize the secure software development lifecycle (Secure SDLC) to secure the software supply chain. Therefore, anything that affects the security of your software affects your product development cycle, production, fulfillment, delivery, and business.

With serious threats such as Log4Shell still lurking in the background, waiting to take advantage of Java’s popular Log4j logging utility, which requires very little expertise to exploit, there is an increased need for software supply chain awareness and oversight.

Securing the supply chain with Zero Trust

As discussed previously, Zero Trust is rapidly evolving as the go-to cybersecurity model for security-minded organizations. It is based on “never trust, always verify.” It assumes that every user and device, whether inside or outside the network perimeter, is potentially hostile and should not be trusted by default.

To effectively manage software supply chain risks within a Zero Trust model, organizations should implement security controls that continuously monitor and verify the security of all software components used in software development and delivery. These components can include code reviews, vulnerability assessments, and automated testing to identify and address potential security issues before attackers can exploit them.

Where do AI/ML fit in, & how can they address software supply chain concerns?

As we all know, human error is responsible for 82% of cyber attacks and breaches. This alarming statistic underscores the need for automated software supply chain security checks and balances. However, constant monitoring can be time-consuming and arduous, so unpatched software remains one of the greatest threats to an organization.

By developing and deploying artificial intelligence and machine learning throughout the various software supply chain stages, such as design, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance, organizations can identify patterns and vulnerabilities in open-source packages and thus mitigate an attack.

However, businesses must be mindful that AI/ML comes with vulnerabilities, which is why Zero Trust is the recommended default security measure.

Overall, incorporating software supply chain risk management into a Zero Trust security model is a foolproof way for organizations to improve the security posture of their software systems, reduce the risk of data breaches and other security incidents, and ensure supply chain resiliency and strength.


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