Tuesday, October 9, 2018

BH18: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the SBOM

Allan Friedman  | Director of Cybersecurity, NTIA / US Department of Commerce

Vendors need to understand what they are shipping to the customer, need to understand the risks in what is going out the door. You cannot defend what you don’t know. Think about ingredients list on a box – if you know you have an allergy, you can simply check the ingredients and make a decision. Why should software/hardware we ship be any different?

There had been a bill before congress, requesting that there always be an SBOM (SW Bill of Materials) for anything the US Government buys – so they know what they are getting and how to take care of it. The bill was DoA, but things are changing…

The Healthcare Sector has started getting behind that. Now people in FDA and Washington are concerned about the supply chain. There should not be health care way of doing this, automotive way of doing this, DoD way of doing this… there should be one way.   That’s where the US Department 
of Commerce comes in.  We don’t want this coming from a single sector.

Committees are the best way to do this – they are consensus based. That means it is stakeholder driven, no single person can derail. Think about it like “I push, but I don’t steer”.

We need Software Component Transparency. We need to compile the data, share it and use it.  Committee kicked off on July 19 in DC. Some folks believe this is a solved problem, but how do we make sure the existing data is machine readable? We can’t just say ‘use grep’. Ideally it could hook into tools we are already using.

First working group is tackling defining the problem. Another is working on case studies and state of practice. Others on standards and formats, healthcare proof of concept, and others.

We need more people to understand and poke at the idea of software transparency – it has real potential to improve resiliency across different sectors.

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