The Importance of SBOM to the Security of a Software Development Project

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A Software Bill of Materials is a full list of the software components that are in an application. Cybersecurity professionals and developers use it to find vulnerabilities in those software components and track updates made to them. This is necessary because many software developers use third-party containers and tools to build applications. 

Using third-party tools makes app development more efficient and less time-consuming, but it means that the development team will have little to no control over the code of those tools. This is a cybersecurity risk that SBOMs help mitigate.

What Makes SBOM Important?

Software developers, companies, and consumers use SBOMs to assess the vulnerabilities of an application’s components. If left unchecked, cyberattackers can exploit those vulnerabilities to breach the computer systems of the people using that application. These attacks can be prevented by keeping an updated SBOM that can be analyzed to detect defective dependencies.

This SBOM security analysis will tell you the software components that need updating and have vulnerabilities to be patched. Without an updated SBOM, it will be difficult to pinpoint the software components that can be exploited. 

Software development companies that use SBOMs will be able to find out if their applications have vulnerabilities and know if those vulnerabilities emanate from their software components or third-party and open-source components. It also makes the software development process more efficient and cost-effective.

SBOMs let developers find out if their application has vulnerabilities early in the development process. It is wise to patch vulnerabilities as soon as they are discovered because they can cause more damage down the line and become complex to resolve in the latter stages of the software development life cycle. Eliminating vulnerabilities ensures that software development companies comply with data protection laws and safeguard the data of the people who will use their applications.

SBOMs also promote transparency in applications and protect the software supply chain. Clients who want to buy an application can use it to learn about its components and verify that they were all authorized for use.

Software developers use SBOM to reduce code bloat because it helps them keep a list of the libraries and software components they are using for their projects. This confines them to familiar components, thus streamlining their codebase and making them build applications faster.

Creating a Software Bill of Materials

You can create an SBOM automatically or manually, depending on how large the development project is. It is recommended that you automate SBOMs for most of your projects. Some tools can automatically track all the components you use to build your application. However, you can create a list of all the software components you use in a spreadsheet if it is a small project. But remember that manual lists are prone to human error.

Endnote

Software Bill of Materials is invaluable to software development projects. It allows developers to keep track of all the components in their application. This helps them detect vulnerabilities so they can patch them and verify that their application is secure before selling it or releasing it for public use.