In recent years, the vast majority of software solutions are not being produced from scratch, but rather assembled by combining multiple existing libraries, frameworks, and components. All of the components that are used to create any software solution have different vulnerabilities, so understanding them is vital for the security of your organization. Software bill of materials, or abbreviated SBOM, is a structured list of all of the components which were used to build a piece of software.

Additionally, SBOMs usually catalog all of the versions, upgrades, and known vulnerabilities in these components. By using SBOMs, you can easily track the risk-prone components and take action to nullify the threats and protect your IT infrastructure.

Defining SBOMs – Why Do They Matter?

Any software bill of materials contains the following items:

Open-Source Components

Almost all of the codebases nowadays contain one or more open-source components. They are widely used because they allow faster development and speed up the delivery process. Yet, it is quite rare to see companies that allow complete visibility into the open-source components included in their software. By utilizing an SBOM, you will be able to see all of the open-source components in any software and have a better view of open-source exposure.

Open-Source Licenses

Noncompliance with open-source licenses is a risk for the better part of all businesses. In most cases, companies are not even aware of this vulnerability and end up breaking the law and compromising intellectual property. An SBOM can help you avoid license conflicts and assess the legal and intellectual property risks in your codebase.

Open-Source Versions

About 90% of all codebases contain components that are outdated for at least 4 years. This means that those components didn’t have proper maintenance, upgrade, or patching in a very long time, making them potentially vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The versions list you can get from an SBOM will allow you to identify these components and evaluate the risk they pose.

Open-Source Vulnerabilities

The increased usage of open-source components has also increased the number of vulnerabilities carried to software products. In fact, there are a few notable security breaches that were performed by exploiting an open-source vulnerability in recent years, including

Equifax’s breach in 2017. So, SBOMs is a great way to stay alert to these open source vulnerabilities and address them on time.

How You Can Benefit from Using SBOMs

Greater Visibility

One of the main benefits that SBOMs provide is increased visibility into the open-source components, versions, and licenses. In addition, SBOMs also provide you with critical metadata including origin, maintainers, and digital signatures. Information like executable software, data, and configuration files can be quite important when your goal is identifying vulnerabilities and patching them accordingly.

Increased Transparency

As a customer, you have the right to know what you are buying, and with SBOMs you can get the needed transparency to understand the software that you are acquiring. When you are familiar with the vulnerabilities that a software possesses, you can better prioritize your security needs. The clarity that SBOMs provide can be vital to the decision-making process in your organization.

Decreased Risk of a Data Breach

Preventing a cyber-attack requires you to have a firm grasp of the vulnerabilities in the entire software supply chain. With the help of SBOMs, you and your software provider will have a complete list of vulnerabilities that you can assess and address. Moreover, you can conduct license compliance and quality assurance checks to evaluate the health of your software.

Trustworthiness

SBOMs can help you earn the trust of your customers by allowing you to provide them with products that are secure. Trustworthiness is invaluable in any business, as even the smallest mistakes can make big stains on your reputation. By making use of SBOMs, you will guarantee that you are offering a risk-free high-quality product that your clients don’t need to worry about.

Conclusion

All software has vulnerabilities, and SBOMs play an integral role in identifying and assessing them. The information that an SBOM can provide you with regarding components, licenses, and versions can offer you better visibility into vulnerabilities that are hard to detect. In order to deliver a secure product that is free of risks, SBOMs is essential.

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