High Tech Reviews

What is a software bill of materials? Everything you need to know 

You may quickly respond to operational, legal, and security concerns to open source software by using a software Bill of Materials (SBOM).

A codebase’s open source and third-party components are all listed in a software Bill of Materials (SBOM). 

An SBOM also lists the components’ versions inside the codebase, their patch status, and the licenses that control them, enabling security teams to immediately identify any license or security problems.

A program A bill of materials is an inventory of all the components that go into a product, and it originates from the manufacturing sector. 

Automotive manufacturers, for instance, maintain a complete Bill of Materials for each car. Parts made by the original equipment manufacturer and parts bought from outside sources are both included in this BOM. 

The automaker is aware of which vehicles are affected when a defect is found and may inform owners that a repair or replacement is necessary.

To ensure their code is of the highest caliber, compliant, and secure, intelligent software development companies maintain an accurate, current software Bill of Materials that includes a list of third-party and open source components.

Why is a software Bill of Materials required by businesses?

In 2021, there were a number of well-known security lapses, including those involving Apache Log4j, Codecov, and Kaseya most recently. 

President Biden issued a cybersecurity executive order (EO) in response to these supply chain breaches, establishing the conditions under which federal departments, agencies, and contractors doing business with the government must secure their software. 

One of the suggestions called for SBOMs to confirm the integrity and safety of software used by the federal government.

Despite the fact that the EO is targeted at companies doing business with the government, these guidelines, including SBOMs, are likely to become the de facto norm for how all companies develop, test, safeguard, and maintain their software systems.

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Any company that produces software is required to maintain an sbom free fire for each of its codebases. Organizations frequently combine custom-written code, commercial off-the-shelf code, and open source components to create software. 

One chief architect of a significant software supply chain organization stated, “We have over a hundred products, and each of those products has hundreds to thousands of unique third-party and open source components. Businesses can keep track of all the components in their codebases by using a software Bill of Materials.

What is a software bill of materials composed of?

An SBOM is an exhaustive list of a codebase’s open source components, along with information on their license, versions, and the existence of any known vulnerabilities.

The open source components

Use open source components by your programmers? You may speed up execution, save development time, and profitably provide your goods to your consumers by using open source. 

The “Open Source Security Risk and Analysis” (OSSRA) research from 2022 discovered open source in 97% of the codebases examined.

Although open source code is equally dangerous to proprietary code in terms of risk, neglecting to properly secure it increases the overall security risk for your company. 

Few companies have a thorough grasp of the open source they use, and even fewer are capable of producing an accurate, current Bill of Materials for software that includes open source components. 

The licenses, versions, and patch status of each open source component utilized in your apps are listed in a thorough SBOM.

Open source software licenses

Are you aware of the permissive or viral licenses that the open source components in your apps are using? Are you using a one-time variant or one of the most widely used open source licenses?

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Failure to abide by open source licenses can put businesses in serious legal danger and put their intellectual property at risk (IP). 

Conflicts between open source software licenses were present in more than 53% of the codebases examined for the OSSRA report, with the GNU General Public License being the most prevalent. 

These disagreements may have a significant impact on distribution problems, vendor disputes, and mergers and acquisitions. 

Using a software Bill of Materials, you may identify and evaluate your legal and intellectual property risks by summarizing the open source licenses that apply to the components you use.

Open-source iterations

Do you know how frequently the open source parts of your codebase are updated? Operational risk increases when teams use outdated components, components that have not recently undergone development, or components from projects where there is insufficient developer support to maintain the code. 

Operational risk can lead to security problems in addition to issues with code quality, stability, and maintainability. 

If there aren’t any developers looking for issues and correcting them, there won’t be any developers finding, reporting, and fixing security weaknesses, making it a simpler target for threat actors. 

When determining whether you are using any outdated, potentially insecure code, an SBOM provides a list of the open source component versions utilized in your project.

Issues with open source software

Do you know whether any known vulnerabilities exist in the open source components you’re using? The OSSRA analysis found that 81% of the 2,400 examined codebases had at least one open source vulnerability that was publicly known. 

Only a small number of open source vulnerabilities, like those infamously affecting Apache Struts or OpenSSL, are likely to be extensively used. 

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The necessity for open source security, however, becomes front-page news when such an exploit happens, as it did in 2017 with the Equifax data security incident. 

One of the main causes of the hack was Equifax’s absence of a comprehensive IT asset inventory, or SBOM. 

According to a report on the incident, this “made it difficult, if not impossible, for Equifax to establish whether vulnerabilities existed on its networks.” “A vulnerability cannot be patched if it cannot be found.”

By the end of 2021, Log4j had offered another another example of how crucial it is to have an SBOM. It was a race to patch the vulnerability as soon as it was identified before malicious actors could attack it. 

In a situation where every second matters, a software Bill of Materials can assist you in swiftly identifying and evaluating risks in your codebase.

Where can I find the bill of materials for software?

An whole open source SBOM, including custom and third-party components, may be constructed using a powerful software composition analysis (SCA) tool, such as Black Duck®. 

The ability of SCA tools to regularly provide this data is crucial since it guarantees that you have the most current understanding of your open source risks.

Every software development team should use an efficient SCA tool to inventory open source and third-party components in their code, given the significance of open source in modern application development.

If you want to be able to react quickly to security, license, and operational issues relating to the use of open source software, maintaining a software Bill of Materials is crucial.