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Vulnerabilities in Software Supply Chains Must be Re-valuated

With so many unknowns about the tools and code bases your developers and systems depend on, it is time to take security seriously.

 


The year ended in fine style for many IT teams as 2021 came to a close. However, they were caught off guard just before the holiday season by an unpleasant surprise. 

Hundreds of servers around the globe are susceptible to a vulnerability in Log4Shell, which requires urgent remediation. Consequently, the experts froze their leaves and returned to the scene to check the position of the band-aid after freezing their leaves. 

In the wake of this vulnerability, many organizations are still working to gain peace of mind. The company wants to make sure that this vulnerability, which affects so many segments of today's modern information technology infrastructure, is not lurking somewhere in its systems. 

This is because it affects Java enterprise applications often used in small and medium-sized companies. Another surprise is just around the corner this holiday season when it comes to this vulnerability. 

Among the challenges is finding the most appropriate place to apply a patch or repair the loophole to fix the problem. It is estimated that more than 35,000 Java packages, or 8% of all Java packages in the Maven Central repository, may have been affected by the Log4Shell problem. This is based on some calculations. 

With the sheer volume of third-party code that modern IT systems rely upon today, even outside of Java, it is easy to imagine the kind of headaches that IT teams face in dealing with today's complex IT systems. The problem is that we have too much to sort through to come up with a solution. If you do not see the problem, you can not fix it. 

It is estimated that approximately 40% to 80% of the lines of code in software today come from third parties, such as libraries, components, and software development kits (SDKs) that are provided by third parties. Gartner's research determined that by 2025, 45% of organizations around the world will have experienced attacks on their software supply chains. This is a threefold increase over what was seen in 2021, according to a report by Gartner, a company specializing in information security research. 
 

The Need for More Automation and Visibility Must be Addressed 


Currently, an industry has been built around cyberattacks. Currently, this industry has numerous specialists waiting on the Dark Web. These specialists can play specific roles in a ransomware attack, from crafting the phishing message to collecting the ransom in the case of a ransomware attack. 

In a world where malicious actors have been developing such intricate supply chains and weaponizing malware as a tool for criminals, businesses should step up their game if they want to maintain a competitive edge in their software supply chains. 

A tool that can improve automation within their IT systems as well as provide them with visibility into their IT systems is what they need to provide the level of service they currently provide. Essentially, this means that they will be able to find vulnerabilities in their software supply chain more easily, instead of manually searching for such vulnerabilities. 

A software supply chain has so many parts that it can be quite intimidating. If we were to narrow it down to Java software specifically, here are some of the features to keep an eye out for: 

• An application-level vulnerability assessment can be performed continuously without the need to obtain source code to assess visibility at the application level. A Java-specific CVE database is used to compare code against the CVE database that is run against Java. 

• It is critical to ensure that false positives are avoided by monitoring code executed by the Java runtime (JVM) and building accurate results that are not detected by traditional tools. 

• Performance transparency: By adding additional agents to the production system, we avoid performance degradation caused by overheads that are added to the machine. There should be a way to run a solution without any agents being involved. 

• The tool must perform thorough checks to ensure that it works on all versions of Java software installed on users' computers. This is to avoid missing any loopholes that may exist. 

Traceability history: Establish a history of the components and code used so forensics efforts can concentrate on finding vulnerable code that led to exploits so that forensic efforts can focus on determining what caused the exploit. 

Adapting to an uncertain environment 


As IT environments become more complex, businesses need to be able to observe more of what is going on and increase automation as required. There is no possibility of using manual labor in the future. During production, a piece of software that is running in production daily needs to be closely monitored and observed at a high level. As the supply chain of software becomes more and more complex, malicious actors are increasingly seeking a way to gain access to victims' systems by digging deeper into them. 

Cyberattackers have come up with new ways to penetrate software supply chains, not just through the Log4Shell issue. This vulnerability was classified as one of the most serious software vulnerabilities in history by the United States Department of Homeland Security, but also through various other creative approaches. Their attacks are also somewhat more brazen in the way they do so, as well as in the way they mount them. 

Users of MiMi, a Chinese messaging app whose version was spiked with malicious code earlier this year, have seen a fake version of it being served to them. Depending on how the software is configured, this could allow an attacker to remotely control the program. As a result, the spies could see what the users were chatting about during their chat sessions. 

One of the most remarkable things about this attack was the fact that the attackers somehow managed to gain control over the servers on which the app was delivered to the users. As a result, the attackers added code to the app, removed the original version, and tricked victims into downloading and installing it without their knowledge. 

There is no doubt that this was not a Java-based issue, however, it demonstrates how dangerous software supply chain vulnerabilities have become in the past few years, as well as just how challenging it is to stem the tide of attacks such as this. 

The issue of trust is also one that needs to be taken into account. The majority of digital services today rely on several third parties to provide them with services, ranging from open-source repositories, where attackers can plant malicious code, to packaged apps that are installed by enterprises on their devices. 

This is the background against which businesses have to adopt a smarter approach if they wish to ensure that their digital communications efforts do not go astray. They must also be careful not to encumber themselves with excessive security measures that are too onerous and do not benefit the customer's experience at all. 

To become more agile, companies must look for streamlined solutions that can detect threats automatically as it will enable them to maintain the competitiveness they need.
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