Using blockchain to secure the software supply chain

Code: DAP/22-03

Start: December 2022

End: December 2026

When developing software, developers and companies usually rely on numerous external libraries. According to GitHub State of the Octoverse Report 2019 [1], open-source projects have an average of 180 package dependencies. The same goes for commercial and closed-source software, although no official numbers are available.

For an attacker, it is enough to compromise one of these dependencies to break into the network or data of the final user of the software [3]. This technique has proven extremely effective, and hence is increasingly used by attackers [2].

This supply chain attack technique can be applied to any programming language and dependency management tool: PHP/composer, Python/PIP, DotNET/NuGet, Java/Maven. All these dependency management systems rely on a central system storing the details of available libraries.

In this project, we plan to study how these central systems can be replaced by a distributed system relying on blockchain. A blockchain system is often compared to a distributed ledger. It allows to guarantee the integrity of stored data: no record can be inserted or modified in the database of libraries without being detected by the users of the database. This property would allow to create a software supply chain that would be protected against supply chain attacks.

References

  1. GitHub State of the Octoverse Report, 2019 https://github.blog/2019-11-06-the-state-of-the-octoverse-2019/
  2. Microsoft Digital Defense Report, September 2020 https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=101738
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