Exposure Management

Can Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) Outperform DAST in Safeguarding Software Supply Chain Security?

Today's software is a hybrid of proprietary code and an abundance of open-source components. They are woven together with a variety of open-source components and no longer rely solely on custom programming.

According to a recent Sonatype survey, over 📈85% of organizations use open-source software, and over 27 million developers have used over 37 million open-source components and packages.

The popularity of open-source software is attributable to various factors, including its low cost, flexibility, community support as well as the ease at which it can be adapted to match the specific needs of a business. Furthermore, open-source software is maintained by a vast development community, which means that there is always someone accessible to help with troubleshooting and support.

This method has the potential to be quick and adaptable, but it also has some dangers. Despite their widespread adoption and ease of use, hackers increasingly target open-source components.

However, significant security concerns are associated with the increasing adoption of open source software. There is a possibility that open-source software packages lack the same level of security testing as commercial software because they are developed by volunteers.

Moreover, open-source software programs may contain known vulnerabilities for which no patches have been released.

Recent notable attacks on software supply chains, including those targeting Apache Log4j2 RCE, OpenSea NFT, GitLab, Oracle WebLogic, and Cloudflare, have spotlighted the critical need to fortify software supply chains. It's evident from these incidents that even top-tier and trusted software providers are not immune to breaches. Perpetrators can manipulate software flaws to infiltrate and dominate vulnerable systems, exfiltrate confidential information, or introduce malicious software.

The repercussions of such breaches are vast and far-reaching. To illustrate, the SolarWinds breach jeopardized several US government departments and major corporations, while the Kaseya ransomware assault disrupted operations for countless global businesses.

Organizations that use open-source software need to be aware of the security risks and take steps to mitigate them. This includes regularly scanning open source software packages for vulnerabilities and applying patches as soon as they are available.

Organizations can implement a variety of security practices to protect their software supply chains at each stage of the development lifecycle. These practices include:


  • Utilize a software bill of materials (SBOM)
  • Scan open-source software elements for potential risks
  • Adopt a secure development lifecycle (SDLC)
  • Incorporate code review protocols
  • Deploy static application security testing (SAST) instruments


  • Establish a fortified build environment
  • Integrate a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) framework
  • Set security measures within the CI/CD process
  • Utilize a platform for containerization
  • Make use of a container registry


  • Ensure a safeguarded packaging procedure
  • Sign packages via cryptographic signatures
  • Use a system for package management
  • Enforce security guidelines within the package management system


  • Infuse security assessments throughout the software creation process
  • Apply dynamic application security testing (DAST) tools
  • Engage in penetration evaluations
  • Use tools that scan configuration documents for security weak points


  • Implement a fortified deployment protocol
  • Leverage a content delivery network (CDN)
  • Incorporate a web application firewall (WAF)
  • Set security measures within the live production space

DAST, or Dynamic Application Security Testing, actively evaluates operating applications to identify vulnerabilities. While it is instrumental in detecting potential threats that hackers could exploit, its capacity to address the complexities of software supply chain security can be limited.

Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) is a newer approach to security that can be used to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities in the deployed applications and assets in a complete zero-knowledge mode like an actual attacker. CTEM uses various techniques to identify vulnerabilities, including cyber threat intelligence, code analysis, behavioral analysis, exposure discovery, and active application security assessment.

CTEM continuously detects, validates, and mitigates flaws in open-source components, code, setup files, infrastructure, and application surfaces. While DAST scans for vulnerabilities periodically, CTEM works non-stop. This means organizations can spot and solve issues faster with CTEM.

In addition to the above, CTEM can also be used to provide outside-in security assurance for software supply chains by:

Monitoring for suspicious activity on supply chain systems.  - This can help organizations identify and mitigate attacks targeting their suppliers.

Analyzing threat intelligence feeds to identify known vulnerabilities in suppliers' systems. - This can help organizations identify and mitigate vulnerabilities before attackers exploit them.

Collaborating with suppliers to improve their security posture. - This can reduce the overall risk to the software supply chain.

Continuous Threat Exposure Management can be valuable for organizations looking to improve their software supply chain security. By identifying deployment-level security flaws early on, organizations can take steps to mitigate the risks associated with these flaws.

NST Assure CTEM empowers businesses worldwide to tackle software supply chain and vendor security head-on. By continuously identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities in the exposed assets and assessing vendors for security risks, we help organizations ensure the security of their software supply chains and build a more resilient foundation for their businesses.

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