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CISA Introduces Hardware Bill of Materials Framework (HBOM) to Strengthen Supply Chain Security

In a significant move aimed at bolstering supply chain risk management, the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has introduced the Hardware Bill of Materials Framework (HBOM). Crafted by the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) Task Force, this framework is designed to enhance the precision of risk assessments linked to hardware products within the supply chain.

The HBOM Framework introduces a consistent approach for naming component attributes, a standardized format for component identification and data sharing, and clear guidelines regarding the necessary HBOM information based on its intended use. The framework encompasses three fundamental elements:

  1. Use Case Categories (Appendix A): These encompass a range of use cases tailored to hardware buyers, taking into account the specific risks they aim to evaluate.

  2. Format of HBOMs (Appendix B): This provides a structured format to ensure uniformity across HBOMs, streamlining their creation and utilization.

  3. Data Field Taxonomy (Appendix C): This offers a categorized list of component/input attributes that can be incorporated into an HBOM, contingent on the buyer's intended use.

Mona Harrington, assistant director at CISA's National Risk Management Center and co-chair of the ICT SCRM Task Force, lauded the HBOM Framework for introducing consistency and repeatability in communication between vendors and purchasers concerning hardware components. Harrington emphasized that standardizing naming conventions, along with providing comprehensive information and guidance, empowers organizations to effectively assess and mitigate supply chain risks. This enhanced transparency and traceability enable stakeholders to proactively identify and address potential threats within the supply chain, ultimately fortifying digital resilience against emerging challenges.

Despite the HBOM Framework's significance, cybersecurity experts remain eager for a software counterpart to manage the intricacies of digital supply chain risks, particularly in the context of open-source components. Javed Hasan, CEO and Co-founder, Lineaje weighed in on the initiative from CISA:

“CISA’s latest announcement introducing the Hardware Bill of Materials Framework (HBOM) for Supply Chain Risk Management should be commended, since it parallels their SBOM initiatives and extends risk management to hardware components. With the increase in demand for IoT products, the synergy between SBOMs and HBOMs is becoming increasingly essential to achieve a holistic supply chain risk management strategy. It means that organizations can now have a more comprehensive view of their entire supply chain, covering both software and hardware components. This integrated approach will lead to more robust and secure digital landscapes, better protection against emerging threats, and improved overall resilience.” ###

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