The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) announced that it’s partnering with the Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF) Securing Software Repositories Working Group to publish a new framework to secure package repositories.
Called the Principles for Package Repository Security, the framework aims to establish a set of foundational rules for package managers and further harden open-source software ecosystems.
“Package repositories are at a critical point in the open-source ecosystem to help prevent or mitigate such attacks,” OpenSSF said.
“Even simple actions like having a documented account recovery policy can lead to robust security improvements. At the same time, capabilities must be balanced with resource constraints of package repositories, many of which are operated by non-profit organizations.”
Notably, the principles lay out four security maturity levels for package repositories across four categories of authentication, authorization, general capabilities, and command-line interface (CLI) tooling –
- Level 0 – Having very little security maturity.
- Level 1 – Having basic security maturity, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) and allowing security researchers to report vulnerabilities
- Level 2 – Having moderate security, which includes actions like requiring MFA for critical packages and warning users of known security vulnerabilities
- Level 3 – Having advanced security, which requires MFA for all maintainers and supports build provenance for packages
All package management ecosystems should be working towards at least Level 1, the framework authors Jack Cable and Zach Steindler note.
The ultimate objective is to allow package repositories to self-assess their security maturity and formulate a plan to bolster their guardrails over time in the form of security improvements.
“Security threats change over time, as do the security capabilities that address those threats,” OpenSSF said. “Our goal is to help package repositories more quickly deliver the security capabilities that best help strengthen the security of their ecosystems.”
The development comes as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center (HC3) warned of security risks arising as a result of using open-source software for maintaining patient records, inventory management, prescriptions, and billing.
“While open-source software is the bedrock of modern software development, it is also often the weakest link in the software supply chain,” it said in a threat brief published in December 2023.