Software bill of materials
A software bill of materials (SBOM) is a list of components in a piece of software. Software vendors often create products by assembling open source and commercial software components. The SBOM describes the components in a product. It is analogous to a list of ingredients on food packaging.
The concept of a BOM is well-established in traditional manufacturing as part of supply chain management. A manufacturer uses a BOM to track the parts it uses to create a product. If defects are later found in a specific part, the BOM makes it easy to locate affected products.
An SBOM is useful both to the builder (manufacturer) and the buyer (customer) of a software product. Builders often leverage available open source and third-party software components to create a product; an SBOM allows the builder to make sure those components are up to date and to respond quickly to new vulnerabilities. Buyers can use a SBOM to perform vulnerability or license analysis, both of which can be used to evaluate risk in a product. Although many companies use Microsoft Excel for general BOM management, there are additional risks and issues using a spreadsheet for an SBOM. SBOMs gain greater value when collectively stored in a repository that can be easily queried by other applications and systems.
The Cyber Supply Chain Management and Transparency Act of 2014 was US legislation that proposed to require government agencies to obtain SBOMs for any new products they purchase. It also would have required obtaining SBOMs for "any software, firmware, or product in use by the United States Government". Though it ultimately didn't pass, this act did bring awareness to government and spurred later legislation such as "Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2017."
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