Solving Open Source Supply Chain Security for the PHP Ecosystem
To assert that "There exist supply-chain security risks" in any software ecosystem doesn't require a formal analysis nor multiple experts to peer review such a notion. It's kind of a given, especially with recent tech news.
However, it's not a new problem. We were vocal about it in 2015, when it was common practice for software projects to tell you to install their widget by running
curl http://some-domain | sh in a terminal window. This specific anti-pattern had already been criticized widely by others since at least 2013, but we were more interested in proposing a general solution to secure code delivery.
The only things that have really changed in the intervening years are:
- More people are aware of the risks today than 7 years ago,
- More disasters have been caused by the lack of supply-chain security for open source software, and
We know it's a solvable problem.
That last item might seem bold, but we've been laying the groundwork for elegantly solving these problems for the PHP ecosystem since our company's inception. We had briefly introduced our complete solution when we announced that WordPress would cryptographically sign its automatic updates in 2019. (If you'd like more depth into this subject, we've previously written about supply-chain security in 2017 and automatic security updates in 2016.)
Part of making an acceptable solution even possible required getting modern cryptography into PHP and writing a pure-PHP polyfill of ext/sodium for legacy versions of PHP. (These are just two of the things that we're known for in the PHP community.)
So with all that in mind, let's take a quick look at Gossamer, our proposal for securing the software supply-chain for the PHP ecosystem.
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