The idea of a software bill of materials seems to be gaining traction. The Linux Foundation has had a group working on a standard. This news details the success of the effort. 

The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced the Software Package Data Exchange (SPDX) specification has been published as ISO/IEC 5962:2021  and recognized as the open standard for security, license compliance, and other software supply chain artifacts. ISO/IEC JTC 1 is an independent, non-governmental standards body. 

Intel, Microsoft, Phillips, Sony, Texas Instruments, Synopsys and VMware are just a handful of the companies using SPDX to communicate Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) information in policies or tools to ensure compliant, secure development across global software supply chains. 

“SPDX plays an important role in building more trust and transparency in how software is created, distributed and consumed throughout supply chains. The transition from a de-facto industry standard to a formal ISO/IEC JTC 1 standard positions SPDX for dramatically increased adoption in the global arena,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director, the Linux Foundation. “SPDX is now perfectly positioned to support international requirements for software security and integrity across the supply chain.” 

Ninety percent (90%) of a modern application is assembled from open source software components. An SBOM accounts for the software components contained in an application — open source, proprietary, or third-party — and details their quality, license, and security attributes. SBOMs are used as a part of a foundational practice to track and trace components across software supply chains. SBOMs also help to proactively identify software component  issues and risks, and establish a starting point for their remediation.

SPDX evolved organically over the last ten years through the collaboration of hundreds of companies, including the leading Software Composition Analysis (SCA) vendors – making it the most robust, mature, and adopted SBOM standard. 

To learn more about how companies and open source projects are using SPDX, recordings from the “Building Cybersecurity into Software Supply Chain” Town Hall that was held on August 18th.

ISO/IEC JTC 1 is an independent, non-governmental international organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. Its membership represents more than 165 national standards bodies with experts who share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market relevant international standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.

Supporting Comments

Intel

“Software security and trust are critical to our Industry’s success. Intel has been an early participant in the development of the SPDX specification and utilizes SPDX both internally and externally for a number of software use-cases,” said Melissa Evers, Vice President – Software and Advanced Technology Group, General Manager of Strategy to Execution, Intel.

Microsoft

“Microsoft has adopted SPDX as our SBOM format of choice for software we produce,” says Adrian Diglio, Principal Program Manager of Software Supply Chain Security at Microsoft. “SPDX SBOMs make it easy to produce U.S. Presidential Executive Order compliant SBOMs, and the direction that SPDX is taking with the design of their next gen schema will help further improve the security of the software supply chain.”

Siemens

“With ISO/IEC 5962:2021 we have the first official standard for metadata of software packages. It’s natural that SPDX is that standard, as it’s been the defacto standard for a decade. This will make license compliance in the supply chain much easier, especially because several open source  tools like FOSSology, ORT, scancode and sw360 already support SPDX,” said Oliver Fendt, senior manager, open source at Siemens. 

Sony

”The Sony team uses various approaches to managing open source compliance and governance,” says Hisashi Tamai, Senior Vice President, Deputy President of R&D Center,  Representative of the Software Strategy Committee, Sony Group Corporation. “An example is the use of an OSS management template sheet that is based on SPDX Lite, a compact subset of the SPDX standard. It is important for teams to be able to quickly review the type, version and requirements of software, and using a clear standard is a key part of this process.”

Synopsis

“The Black Duck team from Synopsys has been involved with SPDX since its inception, and I personally had the pleasure of coordinating the activities of the project’s leadership for more than a decade. Representatives from scores of companies have contributed to the important work of developing a standard way of describing and communicating the content of a software package,” said Phil Odence, General Manager, Black Duck Audits.

VMware

“SPDX is the essential common thread among tools under the Automating Compliance Tooling (ACT) Umbrella. SPDX enables tools written in different languages and for different software targets to achieve coherence and interoperability around SBOM production and consumption. SPDX is not just for compliance, either; the well-defined and ever-evolving spec is also able to represent security and supply chain implications. This is incredibly important for the growing community of SBOM tools as they aim to thoroughly represent the intricacies of modern software,” said Rose Judge, ACT TAC Chair and open source engineer at VMware.

Wind River

“The SPDX format greatly facilitates the sharing of software component data across the supply chain. Wind River has been providing a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) to its customers using the SPDX format for the past 8 years. Often customers will request SBOM data in a custom format. Standardizing on SPDX has enabled us to deliver a higher quality SBOM at a lower cost,” said Mark Gisi, Wind River Open Source Program Office Director and OpenChain Specification Chair.

Founded in 2000, The Linux Foundation is supported by more than 1,000 members and is the world’s leading home for collaboration on open source software, open standards, open data, and open hardware. The Linux Foundation’s projects are critical to the world’s infrastructure including Linux, Kubernetes, Node.js, RISC-V, Hyperledger, Jenkins, and more. The Linux Foundation’s methodology focuses on leveraging best practices and addressing the needs of contributors, users and solution providers to create sustainable models for open collaboration.

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