SBOMs and Security: What DevSecOps Teams Need To Know?

DevSecOps is an impeccable methodology that combines development, operations (DevOps), and security practices in the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC). In this methodology, security comes into play from the beginning and is a shared responsibility instead of an afterthought.

However, with the ever-evolving digital landscape, and continuous use of third-party and open-source components, DevSecOps teams need to fortify this methodology to minimize the risk and make their software more resilient. And that's when the SBOM comes into the picture.

Step into the realm of SBOM exploration! We will delve into its significance for DevSecOps teams within this blog and discover practical, inventive techniques to incorporate it effortlessly.

What Is SBOM, and What Is Its Role in Security?

SBOM is short for Software Bill of Materials. It's a document/list or collection of all the components used in the software. From third-party libraries and frameworks to dependencies and the licenses that govern them, along with version details, an SBOM includes everything!

The purpose of an SBOM is to offer a comprehensive overview of different components used in particular software. And this helps DevSecOps teams identify potential risks, analyze their impact, and mitigate them, eventually leading to a secure and more resilient application.

SBOM helps in mobile application security by:

A. Identifying and managing open source components - They provide clear visibility into the third-party software used, including versions and potential security vulnerabilities. This enables teams to make informed decisions about component usage and proactively address security risks associated with open-source libraries and frameworks.

B. Detecting vulnerabilities and potential security risks - Automated security scanning tools like Appknox VA leverage SBOMs to compare component versions against known vulnerabilities, enabling teams to prioritize and apply security patches efficiently. Keeping SBOMs up-to-date allows teams to respond quickly to emerging security threats and maintain a secure software environment.

C. Enhancing supply chain security through SBOMs - They act as a manifest detailing the components used in the software, allowing recipients to verify the software's integrity and mitigate the risk of supply chain attacks. Organizations can also use SBOMs to assess the security practices of suppliers and reduce potential security risks from third-party components.


What Are the Common SBOM Format Standards?

A Software Bill of Materials can be created and represented in different formats, such as:

  • CycloneDX: Led by the OWASP, CycloneDX is a lightweight and one of the most popular SBOM standards focusing on supply chain analysis and app security. CycloneDX supports integrity verification and offers a complete inventory, component pedigree, digital signatures, and smooth integration with VEX or Vulnerability Exploitability Exchange.
  • SPDX: SPDX or Software Package Data Exchange is a common format that contains package information. It includes multiple fields such as package info, creation info, snippets, annotations, licensing, file info, etc. 
  • CPE: CPE stands for Common Platform Enumeration. This format helps represent hardware and software components in a machine-readable way known for identifying vulnerabilities in software components.
  • JSON: JSON stands for JavaScript Object Notation. It's often used for presenting SBOMs because of its ease of use and simplicity.

Why is SBOM Important for DevSecOps Teams?

Introducing the Software Bill of Materials and making it a part of DevSecOps yields numerous benefits. Here are the key benefits that emphasize the significance of SBOM for DevSecOps teams.

1) Improved Software Supply Chain Security

As the components or the scope of software increases, it becomes a challenge for DevSecOps teams to have an overview of everything. And this increases the likelihood of potentially harmful components entering the software.

An SBOM offers the IT and DevSecOps teams more supply chain transparency by providing a detailed list of all the software components and the related details. This makes it easy for the concerned individuals to determine where the components originate and if they pose a risk. And if they do, appropriate steps can be taken for effective software supply chain risk management.

2) Threat Detection Becomes Easy and More Efficient

Time is a crucial element when it comes to detecting and terminating threats. However, if you don't know where the threat originates, fixing the issue can take time, leading to reputational damage and other consequences.

With a detailed SBOM in place, you know which components your software has and other details such as license information, version, etc. Based on the available information, you can find the potential culprit quickly and deal with the same before the news gets public. This can help you save a lot of effort and avoid reputational damages.

Good Read: How to Select DevSecOps Tools for Secure Software Delivery


3) Better Communication Across DevSecOps Teams

SBOMs come in different formats, as stated above. And one of the most popular and reliable ones is CycloneDX which is both insightful and easy to comprehend. 

Creating a CycloneDX SBOM supply chain report allows developers, security and IT experts DevSecOps managers to understand what it says, leading to better collaboration and communication.

This collaboration and communication helps teams initiate informative discussions and share their input, making it easy to spot issues and create mitigation plans.

4) Meeting Compliance Requirements Becomes Easy

There are numerous compliance requirements that software developers need to meet to sell and distribute their products. For instance, in the USA, the companies that sell software solutions to the Federal Government must present an SBOM.

Moreover, industry standards such as HIPAA and the PCI DSS restrict the use of specific software components. Software development companies can create an SBOM as evidence they use the permitted software components only. Doing this will help businesses stay compliant and avoid any legal repercussions.

SBOM offers numerous benefits to the DevSecOps team. But how can, and more importantly, where can DevSecOps teams integrate SBOM in their workflow? Let's learn about that below. 

Where Does SBOM Fit in the DevSecOps Workflow?

You can integrate the SBOM into multiple stages of the DevSecOps lifecycle:

  • Development: Developers can create SBOMs during the early development stages before the software is deployed. This will help the team track all the components that are or will be used in the software from the beginning till the end. Integrating early also helps identify potential vulnerabilities quickly without putting in much effort, which improves the app's time to market.
  • CI/CD: The DevSecOps teams can integrate SBOM into the CI/CD pipelines. This automatically generates a list of third-party or open-source components like frameworks, libraries, and other dependencies.
  • Testing: The security team can leverage the SBOM during the security testing stage. They can use the SBOM as a reference and make contributions if they can, increasing the credibility of the SBOM list. This way, DevOps teams can ensure complete security before the software is deployed.

The DevSecOps methodology focuses on the security element from the early stages of software development. So, ideally, you must integrate SBOM creation during early development for the best results.

Now that you know where you can integrate SBOM creation. Let's learn how you can do that.

How To Create a Software Bill Of Materials (SBOM)?

One of the best ways to create an SBOM is by integrating an automated SBOM solution. And that's when Appknox comes in. 

Appknox's SBOM solution can help you create SBOMs that contain detailed information about third-party or open-source frameworks and libraries used in your software.

With our SBOM report, you can determine what components have been used, their vulnerability status, and if they're outdated. And as our report follows the OWASP CycloneDX standard, it's easy to comprehend.

Also, you can generate an SBOM report without getting too technical. You just need to:

1) Upload the binary
2) Start the Analysis
3) Review the Report
4) Download and share it with your engineering team.


In conclusion, SBOMs (Software Bill of Materials) stand at the forefront of ensuring robust security practices in the modern software development landscape.

As you venture forward in your software development journey, consider integrating SBOMs into your DevSecOps workflow to bolster security practices and achieve compliance with industry standards.

If you're interested in exploring the benefits of SBOMs and enhancing your mobile app security, we encourage you to get in touch with us! Experience firsthand the advantages of our comprehensive SBOM solutions tailored to your specific needs. Witness Appknox SBOM in action, book a free demo now!



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Is an SBOM, and Why Is It Crucial for DevSecOps Teams?

An SBOM is an inventory or list of ingredients/components that make up the software. It's closely related to security and helps companies make their software more resilient to attacks. It is crucial for DevSecOps teams as it provides clear visibility into the software supply chain, helping them identify and manage potential security risks associated with open-source components.

What Is the Use of SBOM?

SBOM aims to improve software supply chain transparency by offering a detailed overview of all the components used in a software solution. And this further helps security teams identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities in their software.

Is an SBOM Required for Launching a Mobile App That Complies With Security Standards?

No, SBOM is not mandatory across the globe. 

However, certain industry-specific regulations and cybersecurity standards may recommend or require SBOMs as part of their compliance criteria. For example, organizations pursuing compliance with NIST SP 800-161 (followed by software solutions for Federal governments), CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification), or other cybersecurity frameworks might find SBOMs relevant for supply chain risk management.

What Are the Advantages of Using an SBOM?

Using an SBOM brings several advantages, such as:

  • Improved Software Supply Chain Security
  • Easy and Efficient Threat Detection
  • Enhanced Collaboration and Communication Among Teams
  • Meeting Compliance Requirements Becomes Easy

How Can SBOMs Enhance Mobile App Security?

SBOMs enhance mobile app security by facilitating vulnerability detection and risk assessment. They allow DevSecOps teams to identify outdated or vulnerable components, enabling them to prioritize security patches and updates efficiently, thus reducing the risk of security breaches.

How Can SBOMs Aid in Regulatory Compliance?

SBOMs aid regulatory compliance by providing documentation that demonstrates due diligence in managing software security. Compliance examples include CycloneDX, NIST SP 800-161, CMMC, and ISO/IEC 27001. SBOMs help organizations meet industry standards, enhance supply chain security, and maintain a robust compliance posture.


Published on Aug 1, 2023
Raghunandan J
Written by Raghunandan J
Raghunandan J is a senior product manager at Appknox, a mobile security suite that helps enterprises automate mobile security. With over a decade of expertise in driving the product vision and strategy for a cloud-based mobile security platform, Raghu is a certified ScrumMaster and Business Analyst.
He is the driving force behind our mission to revolutionize AppSec and has a rich experience in agile methodologies and stakeholder management.


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