A New Linux Tool Aims to Guard Against Supply Chain Attacks

4 days ago 34

In the wake of alarming incidents like Russia's massive 2017 NotPetya malware attack and the Kremlin's 2020 SolarWinds cyberespionage campaign—both pulled off by poisoning wells for software distribution—organizations around the world have been scrambling to get a handle on software supply chain security. In general, and for open source software in particular, stronger defense rests in knowing what software you're actually running with a crucial focus on enumerating all the little pieces that make up the whole and validating that they are what they should be. That way, when you pack a box of software heirlooms and store it on a shelf, you know there isn't a live microphone or a Tupperware full of deviled eggs sitting in the box for years. 

Creating a system to generate a manifest of what's inside every box in every basement and garage is a massive effort, but a new tool from security firm Chainguard aims to do just that for the software "containers” that underly almost all digital services today.

On Thursday, Chainguard launched a Linux distribution called Wolfi that is designed specifically for how digital systems are actually built today in the cloud. Most consumers don't use Linux, the famed open-source operating system, on their personal computers. (If they do, they don't necessarily know it, as is the case with Android, which is built on a modified version of Linux.) But the open-source operating system is widely used in servers and cloud infrastructure around the world, partly because it can be deployed in such flexible ways. Unlike operating systems from Microsoft and Apple, where your only choice is whatever ice cream flavor they release, the open nature of Linux allows developers to create all sorts of flavors—known as “distributions”—to suit different cravings and specific needs. But t...

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