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Linux Foundation Intros SBOM Standard to Improve Cybersecurity Practices

June 21, 2021

The Linux Foundation introduced new industry research, training, and tools – backed by the SPDX industry standard – to accelerate the use of a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) in secure software development.

The Linux Foundation is accelerating the adoption of SBOM practices to secure software supply chains with:

SBOM standard: stewarding SPDX, the de-facto standard for requirements and data sharing

SBOM survey: highlighting the current state of industry practices to establish benchmarks and best practices

SBOM training: delivering a new course on Generating a Software Bill of Materials to accelerate adoption

SBOM tools: enabling development teams to create SBOMs for their applications

“As the architects of today’s digital infrastructure, the open source community is in a position to advance the understanding and adoption of SBOMs across the public and private sectors,” said Mike Dolan, Senior Vice President and General Manager Linux Foundation Projects. “The rise in cybersecurity threats is driving a necessity that the open source community anticipated many years ago to standardize on how we share what is in our software. The time has never been more pressing to surface new data and offer additional resources that help increase understanding about how to adopt and generate SBOMs, and then act on the information.”

Ninety percent (90%) of a modern application is assembled from open source software components. An SBOM accounts for the open source software components contained in an application that details their quality, license, and security attributes. SBOMs are used to ensure developers understand what components are flowing throughout their software supply chains, proactively identify issues and risks, and establish a starting point for their remediation.

The recent presidential Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity referenced the importance of SBOMs in protecting and securing the software supply chain. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) followed the issuance of this order by asking for wide-ranging feedback to define a minimum SBOM. The Linux Foundation has responded to the NTIA’s SBOM inquiry here, and the presidential Executive Order here.

SPDX: The De-Facto SBOM Open Industry Standard

SPDX – a Linux Foundation Project, is the de-facto open standard for communicating SBOM information, including open source software components, licenses, and known security vulnerabilities. SPDX evolved organically over the last ten years by collaborating with hundreds of companies, including the leading Software Composition Analysis (SCA) vendors – making it the most robust, mature, and adopted SBOM standard in the market.

SBOM Readiness Survey

Linux Foundation Research is conducting the SBOM Readiness Survey. It will be deployed next week and will examine obstacles to adoption for SBOMs and future actions required to overcome them related to the security of software supply chains. The recent US Executive Order on Cybersecurity emphasizes SBOMs, and this survey will help identify industry gaps in SBOM applications. Survey questions address tooling, security measures, and industries leading in producing and consuming SBOMs, among other topics.

New Course: Generating a Software Bill of Materials

The Linux Foundation is also announcing a free, online training course, Generating a Software Bill of Materials (LFC192). This course provides foundational knowledge about the options and the tools available for generating SBOMs and how to use them to improve the ability to respond to cybersecurity needs. It is designed for directors, product managers, open source program office staff, security professionals, and developers in organizations building software. Participants will walk away with the ability to identify the minimum elements for an SBOM, how they can be assembled, and an understanding of some of the open source tooling available to support the generation and consumption of an SBOM.

New Tools: SBOM Generator

Also announced today is the availability of the SPDX SBOM generator, which uses a command-line interface (CLI) to generate SBOM information, including components, licenses, copyrights, and security references of your application using SPDX v2.2 specification and aligning with the current known minimum elements from NTIA. Currently, the CLI supports GoMod (go), Cargo (Rust), Composer (PHP), DotNet (.NET), Maven (Java), NPM (Node.js), Yarn (Node.js), PIP (Python), Pipenv (Python), and Gems (Ruby). It is easily embeddable in automated processes such as continuous integration (CI) pipelines and is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

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