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Report: Software supply chain attacks increased 300% in 2021


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Software supply chain attacks grew by more than 300% in 2021, according to a study from Argon Security, recently acquired by Aqua Security.

The report found that the level of security across software development environments remains low, and every company evaluated had vulnerabilities and misconfigurations that can expose them to supply chain attacks. The study identified three primary areas of risk that companies should understand and address to improve software supply chain security.

Vulnerable package usage is one of the fastest-growing methods of carrying out a software supply chain attack. Two common attacks that leverage vulnerable packages are: 1) exploiting packages’ existing vulnerabilities to obtain access to the application and execute the attack, and 2) planting malicious code in popular open source packages and private packages to trick developers or automated pipeline tools into incorporating them as part of the application build process.

Visualizing where and how some of the biggest attacks compromise the software supply chain.
Visualizing where and how some of the biggest attacks compromise the software supply chain.

Furthermore, compromised CI/CD pipeline can expose an application’s source code. This type of breach is hard to identify and can cause significant damage if left undetected. Attackers can take advantage of privileged access, misconfigurations, and vulnerabilities in the CI/CD pipeline infrastructure, which provides access to critical IT infrastructure, development processes, source code, and applications. It enables attackers to change code or inject malicious code during the build process and tamper with applications.

Finally, code/artifact integrity was another one of the main risk areas identified. The upload of bad code to source code repositories directly impacts artifact quality and security posture. Common issues that were found in most customer environments were sensitive data in code, code quality and security issues, infrastructure as code issues, container image vulnerabilities and misconfigurations. Many issues discovered required dedicated time-intensive cleanup projects to reduce exposure.

Findings were based on a six-month analysis of customer security assessments conducted by Argon’s researchers to determine the state of enterprise security and readiness to defend against software supply chain attacks.

Read the full report by Argon Security and Aqua Security.

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