Why Care About Software Vulnerabilities?

An overview of software vulnerability impacts and the significance of CVEs in vulnerability management practices
Michelle McAveety

Software products are prone to vulnerabilities which, if exploited by an attacker, may negatively impact the systems and consumers relying on them. Attacks against vulnerable software systems can result in the unintended exposure and misuse of sensitive data (like the theft of user account credentials). In other cases, these attacks could affect the provision of a service, or compromise critical infrastructure that relies on the software. Given the considerable threat that they can pose, it is important that developers spend time mitigating vulnerabilities to protect against hackers seeking to exploit them.

Addressing the vulnerabilities present in your software helps secure the systems you support, use, and maintain. In this article, you will explore why you should care about vulnerabilities as a software developer, and learn about federal regulations that draw importance to CVE management.

As a Developer

Discovering and mitigating software vulnerabilities is a difficult – but necessary – task for developers to tackle. Development teams are ultimately the authorities who are able to remediate vulnerabilities at the source. Depending on the severity of a vulnerability, its exploitation could significantly impact the integrity of the software product. The trust, safety, and operations of the consumers who rely on the software may be affected as well.

Vulnerability triage is an important step developers must take to work toward reducing risks posed by vulnerabilities in their software. Using vulnerability scanners can give developers information about the number, type, and severity of CVEs present in their work. With this data, developers can prioritize critical CVEs, therefore ensuring that major security concerns are addressed first.

Federal Regulations

With notable software supply chain security attacks occurring in recent years (such as the SolarWinds attack in 2020), the U.S. federal government has increased efforts to improve U.S. cybersecurity. These initiatives aim to strengthen software supply chain security by promoting safer development habits, such as frequent vulnerability scanning.

FedRAMP

The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) is a security framework that must be adopted by cloud service providers (CSPs) before they service U.S. federal government agencies. The framework aims to promote the use of cloud services across agencies by standardizing security authorization practices. Based on the service being offered, FedRAMP sorts cloud services into low, moderate, and high impact levels, with increased security expectations for each level.

In order to achieve FedRAMP authorization, certain requirements need to be met as follows:

  • Container images used by CSPs must be hardened according to benchmarks laid out in the NIST SP 800-70. Our solution is Chainguard Images, which offers hardened, minimal base images designed to help you meet FedRAMP compliance requirements.

  • Vulnerability scanners are expected to report information about discovered vulnerabilities, such as its CVE ID and CVSSv3 score. Additional configuration requirements can be found in the FedRAMP Vulnerability Scanning Requirements outline.

Meeting FedRAMP container image and vulnerability scanning requirements allows your organization to expand and reinforce its offerings as a CSP. To learn how we can help you meet FedRAMP container image requirements, check out our blog post on how you can Fortify, comply and conquer FedRAMP with Chainguard Images.

DHS Software Self Attestation

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released their Secure Software Attestation Form in response to Executive Order 14028. The attestation form identifies the secure software development practices that developers must verify to have met in order for their software to be utilized by federal agencies. Meeting the criteria laid out by the form is another critical step toward securing your software development processes.

Learn More

In this article, we discussed reasons why you should care about software vulnerabilities from a development perspective. In addition, you were introduced to federal regulations that draw importance to vulnerability management and secure development practices. This knowledge will help you begin managing vulnerabilities present in the software you develop, improving your security profile and giving you a head start toward meeting regulations like FedRAMP.

To learn more about the importance of software vulnerability management and meeting federal regulations, you can explore requirements for complying with FedRAMP, or learn how Chainguard Images can help reduce CVEs in your container images.