What Can SBOM Automation Give You?

SBOM currently is the sort of thing software companies hate to admit they need. Why? Because it is incredibly complex, tedious, and a huge challenge, yet absolutely necessary for their success — not only to optimize their process, better understand their infrastructure, reduce costs, and secure their products but because most countries – including the US – demand you have a precise SBOM report on hand before you can launch a product. In this article, we’re going to give you a quick look at what a software bill of management is and why SBOM automation might mitigate some of those headaches associated with it.

SBOM — what is it? How is it structured? Its anatomy

A BOM is an abbreviation for Bill Of Materials. This is a document that lists all the components that are required to manufacture a product. Any product. From a simple action figure all the way to an app.

In the tech industry, when these types of ingredient lists are manufactured for software, an S is placed at the very front. Transforming the acronym into SBOM — which stands for Software Bill Of Materials.

SBOM is a list of software components that are used to develop an application. It is an important document for developers as it contains all the necessary information about the product and its development process. The components may be categorized by how they are used, who needs them, and what they do concerning each other.

These types of bills include basic components, as well as complex ones. It is analogous to a list of ingredients on a food packet. The concept of it has the same application as that of an ingredient list — it gives organizations that are about to “consume” the software the necessary info they need. This will help them evaluate the product and make an informed decision on its nutritional content and whether or not they should avoid it.

SBOM should include data that is relevant to the company and its stakeholders. It is useful not only for buyers but for the software’s manufacturer — this is because builders often use 3rd-party applications in order to create their products. By auditing said applications and demanding their own SBOM they can more easily ascertain the success of incorporating them into their product’s DNA.

When it comes to what kinds of data SBOM should include, it is important to consider the company and its stakeholders. The data should be relevant to their needs, concerns, and interests. It is also important to make sure that the data is accurate and up-to-date so that they can make informed decisions.

Another important factor of SBOM is the fact that, as of today, it is a Federal must for software — Ever since The Cyber Supply Chain Management and Transparency Act of 2014 and later the Cyber security IoT act of 2017.

The Cyber Supply Chain Management and Transparency Act of 2014, also known as the Cybersecurity Act of 2014, is a United States federal law that was enacted to help protect the supply chain from cyberattacks. The bill requires companies who sell products or services to the U.S. government to implement a cyber security plan that includes a process for verifying the originator’s identity and determining whether it is an approved supplier.

Over the years, that Act has been perfected and loopholes in it sealed shut. Updates to it have been passed into law, including the US Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity of May 12, 2021.

How to create SBOM?

Generally speaking, most BOMs are created on a spreadsheet. They are just a list of components and ingredients. Nevertheless, when it comes to SBOM generation, certain digital tools and processes need to be incorporated to meet Federal guidelines. Amongst them: baseline information on each component, automation support, practices, and process, and automatic generation – which is only possible with the use of SCA – Software Composition Analysis – solutions.

The SBOM creation process includes the following steps:

– Identify the purpose of the SBOM

– Create a list of tasks

– Create a list of stakeholders and their roles in the project

– Identify the risks associated with this project

– Establish a timeline for completion

– Establish deadlines for each task and stakeholder, considering their availability and workloads.

Why consider SBOM automation?

It’s pivotal to incorporate into SBOM generation automatic solutions and tools. SBOM automation will not only help a company generate reports and stay on top of Federal requirements – such as the Cyber Supply Chain Management and Transparency Act of 2014 – but be more efficient when it comes to their software creation.

Also, on July 12, 2021, the NTIA – the National Telecommunication and Information Administration – published a Federally mandated guideline of minimum elements needed for an SBOM. Amongst these elements is the “automation support.” The latter requires that SBOM have automation features for automatic generation.

The advantages of automatic SBOM generation

Most companies just use Microsoft Excel or a spreadsheet application for BOM management. It’s important to generate SBOM efficiently to incorporate automation tools. Why? Because there are additional problems, complexities, risks, and issues when it comes to the creation of a Software Bill Of Management. Risks include cyber supply chain threats, NIST issues, federal requirements, baseline information about a software’s components and a software’s update, a layout of options for future evolution, etc. Dozens of other factors that can’t be properly quantified in a spreadsheet. All these components and characteristics gain greater value when automatically and collectively stored in a repository that can be easily queried — one that can create human-readable reports.

Comprehending SBOM generation and using it to analyze vulnerabilities is a crucial part of managing a company’s risk profile.

How to choose the right tool for SBOM generation?

The Software Bill Of Management is a tool that helps in the process of generating reports and audits about a software’s DNA. It can be used by builders, inspectors, and consumers to generate an informed decision about a product.

There are many tools available in the market today for generating SBOM. The best ones are those that provide a user-friendly interface, have an option to upload data from outside sources, and are compatible with different types of systems.

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