Decomposing and Measuring Trust in Open-Source Software Supply Chains

Lina Boughton, Courtney Miller, Yasemin Acar, Dominik Wermke, and Christian Kästner.
IEEE/ACM 46th International Conference on Software Engineering: New Ideas and Emerging Results (ICSE-NIER '24)
April 14-20, 2024
Workshop publication


Trust is integral for the successful and secure functioning of software supply chains, making it important to measure the state and evolution of trust in open source communities. However, existing security and supply chain research often studies the concept of trust without a clear definition and relies on obvious and easily available signals like GitHub stars without deeper grounding. In this paper, we explore how to measure trust in open source supply chains with the goal of developing robust measures for trust based on the behaviors of developers in the community. To this end, we contribute a process for decomposing trust in a complex large-scale system into key trust relationships, systematically identifying behavior-based indicators for the components of trust for a given relationship, and in turn operationalizing data-driven metrics for those indicators, allowing for the wide-scale measurement of trust in practice.