Understanding and Preventing Supply Chain Cyber Attacks
In recent years, supply chain attacks have become an increasingly common threat to businesses of all sizes and industries. These attacks exploit weak links within an organisation’s supply chain to gain access to sensitive data, install malware, and cause disruption to services. Attack routes can range from malicious code embedded in software updates to compromising the source code itself.
Threat actors behind these attacks often target customers of third-party vendors, taking advantage of the trust placed in these suppliers. Once a supply chain attack has been successful, the attacker can gain access to sensitive information and cause damage to an organisation’s reputation.
By understanding the supply chain risk and implementing effective security measures throughout the development lifecycle, businesses can protect themselves and their customers from the damaging effects of a supply chain cyberattack.
What is a supply chain cyber attack?
A supply chain attack is a form of cyber attack that exploits weak links within a business’s supply chain. The supply chain refers to the network of individuals, organisations, resources, activities, and technology involved in the creation and sale of a product, including the delivery of materials, production, and delivery to end-users. Cyber attackers target these weak links to gain access to an organisation’s systems by taking advantage of the trust placed in third-party vendors. This type of attack is known as island hopping and can occur in any industry that has contracts with third-party vendors, such as the financial or government sectors.
How to detect supply chain attack
Supply chain attacks have become increasingly prevalent due to the rise of new attack methods and the high-profile targets they have hit. Cybercriminals may use this tactic to tamper with a company’s manufacturing processes through hardware or software manipulation. Malware can be introduced at any stage of the supply chain, leading to service disruptions or outages.
One of the main challenges of detecting supply chain attacks is that they rely on trusted software that has already been widely distributed, making it difficult to identify malicious activity. Additionally, there is often no dedicated team responsible for managing third-party vendors, which can lead to risks being passed from one department to another.
To mitigate the risk of supply chain attacks, organisations must be aware when assessing the security of each stage of their supply chain. By strengthening security measures and improving vendor management practices, companies can better protect themselves from these attacks.
What is the end goal of a supply chain attack
The primary objective of a supply chain attack is to exploit vulnerabilities in an organisation’s supply chain to cause harm or disruption. Attackers typically target weaker links in the supply chain, often third-parties or suppliers with less robust cybersecurity measures. By infiltrating these weaker links, hackers can gain access to the business’s main target and launch a supply chain attack. The goal is to cause damage, disrupt services, or steal sensitive information.
Detecting Supply Chain Attacks
To detect supply chain attacks, you will need to carefully check all the parts of your supply chain – from your assets to the data pathways used. This helps to find any potential weaknesses in your security and create a plan for how to protect against threats.
You should also regularly test any new software or updates that you receive to make sure they’re safe. At Valto we use special tools to automatically check for signs of malicious activity, like strange files or registry entries.
By doing these things, you can improve your ability to catch supply chain attacks and reduce their impact.
Here are some steps you can take to protect your business from supply chain cyber attacks:
- Conduct a risk assessment: Start by identifying the potential vulnerabilities in your supply chain. Consider the data you are sharing with your suppliers, how it is being stored and transmitted, and the security protocols in place. Identify the areas that are most vulnerable to attack and prioritise those for action.
- Vet your suppliers: Before you start working with a new supplier, conduct a thorough review of their security protocols. Consider their history of cybersecurity incidents and their level of preparedness. Only work with suppliers who have a strong track record of security.
- Implement security controls: Establish security controls for your suppliers, such as requiring them to adhere to specific security protocols and conducting regular audits to ensure they are meeting these requirements. You may also consider implementing data encryption, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems to protect your systems and data.
- Develop an incident response plan: Develop a detailed incident response plan that outlines the steps to take in the event of a cyber attack. This should include procedures for identifying and containing the attack, notifying affected parties, and restoring normal operations.
- Train employees: Employees can be a weak link in the supply chain, so it is important to provide regular cybersecurity training to all staff members. This should include how to identify and report potential cyber threats, as well as how to adhere to security protocols.