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The Acronym SOUP in Medical Device Security: Pedigree vs Provenance

SOUP in Medical Device Security: Pedigree vs Provenance

In medical device security, acronyms are as common as stethoscopes in a doctor’s office. One such acronym that often sparks debate is SOUP, standing for Software of Unknown Provenance. However, in cybersecurity circles, there’s a bit of a stir about whether the term ‘provenance’ is more accurate or ‘pedigree’ is preferred. Let’s clarify which term is more common and accurate.

SOUP: A Quick Overview

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, it’s essential to understand what SOUP actually entails. In medical device cybersecurity, SOUP refers to software components whose origins, development, or maintenance history are not fully known or documented. This lack of clarity can pose significant risks, especially in critical applications like medical devices, where reliability and safety are paramount.

Pedigree vs Provenance: A Linguistic Duel

  • Pedigree: Typically, the term ‘pedigree‘ relates to the lineage or historical record of an entity. When applied to software, it would imply a detailed record of the software’s development, including its origins, updates, and the different hands it passed through.
  • Provenance: On the other hand, ‘provenance‘ is more about the place of origin or earliest known history of something. In the software world, it would indicate the source or the birthplace of the software component.

Which Term is More Common?

In the cybersecurity community, especially in the context of medical devices, “provenance” seems to be the more commonly used term. This preference may be due to the emphasis on the software’s origin, which is critical for assessing its security and reliability. When it comes to medical devices, knowing where a piece of software began its life can provide vital clues about its integrity and trustworthiness.

Which Term is More Accurate?

If we’re nitpicking about accuracy, ‘pedigree’ might have a slight edge. Why? Because it encompasses not just the origin but the entire developmental history of the software. In cybersecurity, the journey of a software component – from inception through various development stages, and its evolution over time – is crucial. It’s this journey that often determines the security robustness of the software.

However, it’s essential to note that in the grand scheme of things, whether one uses ‘pedigree’ or ‘provenance,’ the core concern remains the same: understanding the background of software components to assess and mitigate potential risks in medical devices.

Practical Implications in Medical Device Security

When dealing with SOUP, whether you term it as ‘pedigree’ or ‘provenance’, the implications in medical device security are profound:

  1. Risk Assessment: Knowing the software background helps identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities.
  2. Regulatory Compliance: Regulatory bodies often require detailed documentation about software components used in medical devices. Clear understanding and documentation, whether the pedigree or the provenance, are crucial for compliance.
  3. Security Best Practices: For medical device manufacturers, embracing a culture that prioritizes understanding the full history of software components (pedigree) or at least their origins (provenance) is essential for developing secure and reliable devices.


In conclusion, while the term ‘provenance’ is commonly used in the context of medical device cybersecurity about SOUP, ‘pedigree’ may be a more comprehensive term that encompasses the entire software history. However, what’s most important is the underlying principle of understanding and documenting the background of software components used in medical devices. This understanding is key to ensuring the safety and reliability of these life-saving devices.

Keep reading Blue Goat Cyber’s blog posts for more insights into medical device security and other cybersecurity topics. Stay informed and stay secure!

Contact us if you need help with a SOUP analysis.

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