Benefits of a Digitally Signed SBOM

A signed SBOM provides a checksum, which is a long string of letters and numbers that represent the sum of a piece of digital data’s accurate digits and can be compared to find faults or changes. A checksum is similar to a digital fingerprint. On a regular basis, it checks for redundancy (CRC). Changes to raw data in digital networks and storage devices are detected using an error-detecting code and verification function.

As a digital signature is meant to serve as a validated and secure way of proving authenticity in transactions – that is, once signed, a person cannot claim otherwise – it holds all signatories to the procedures and actions laid out in the bill. 

Problems with an Unsigned SBOM

As one of the core purposes of digital signatures is verification, an unsigned SBOM is not verifiable. Think of it as a contract: if a contract hasn’t been signed by participating parties, there’s no real way to enforce it. Similarly, an unsigned SBOM is just an unsigned document: your customer cannot hold you accountable. 

This can also lead to further problems down the road, as an unsigned SBOM can also pose risks for your organization’s security. Anything that might have otherwise been protected by a signed SBOM is now not protected, and therefore data and information can be sent or replicated anywhere. One of the main purposes of signed SBOMs – accountability – is lost when an SBOM is unsigned as changes can then be made to it without consequences from the creator’s or client’s sides.