Time to Introduce Dependency Hygiene

This post is inspired by the recent supply chain attack on coa, a popular command-line parser package for NodeJS,. and the discussions that followed that – both on LinkedIn and in the local InfoSec Slack community. This attack was not the first one, and definitely won’t be the last one. It’s true that Node modules are small and bring a lot of sub-dependencies – but they are usually super-focused on what they are doing. The speed of development in Node is largely based on this modularity, which comes with a lot of inherent risks. So, how do you mitigate those risks?

It’s about time to introduce Dependency Hygiene.

TL;DR: Use lock files. Pin your dependencies. Run audits. Patch frequently – but don’t rush fresh upgrades in.

Now, let’s dive deeper into those items. I’ll explain what do I mean by each one of them and how they are relevant in the mitigation of the modern supply chain attacks.

My primary working environment nowadays is NodeJS-based, so the examples will come from this world, but most of what I’m going to tell applies to other ecosystems as well.

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