Supply chain cyber attacks

Organizations do not work in isolation. Once the cybercriminal gains access to the supplier’s network, they work their way up the supply chain to the target organization. It may take them months, but they persist until they gain access.

Organizations do not work in isolation. They connect with third parties such as partners and suppliers through online applications and services. When giving access to third parties, the organization trusts them to use the access responsibly.

But cybercriminals have different ideas. They exploit the trust relationships and compromise the weakest entity in the supply chain — for example, a supplier with weak access controls without two-factor authentication or a vendor with poor network security controls.

Once the cybercriminal gains access to the supplier’s network, they work their way up the supply chain to the target organization. It may take them months, but they persist until they gain access.

A well-known case of a supply chain attack is the SolarWinds breach. In 2020, cybercriminals accessed and embedded a backdoor in its Orion network monitoring product. Customers who downloaded and ran the malicious update were compromised.

The impact of supply chain attacks is usually data breaches and malware infections. In the case of a data breach, the attacker aims to steal valuable information such as customer data, source code or other intellectual property. In the case of malware infection, the attacker installs malware such as backdoors in software product updates, which gives them more access when downloaded by end customers.

Remember, preventing supply chain attacks demand that you expand your cyber security posture. While the risk of cyber attacks on your supply chain cannot be eliminated, you can significantly mitigate the risk by educating your suppliers and conducting stringent and frequent audits of suppliers at all levels.

FAQ

A supply chain attack occurs when a trusted third-party vendor or partner who offers services or software is compromised and the threat actors then move up the supply chain to gain access to other organizations’ environments.

A supply chain attack occurs when a trusted third-party vendor or partner who offers services or software is compromised and the threat actors then move up the supply chain to gain access to other organizations’ environments. 

Cybercriminals exploit the trust relationships and compromise the weakest entity in the supply chain. Once the cybercriminal gains access to the supplier’s network, they work their way up the supply chain to the target organization. It may take them months, but they persist until they gain access.  

The SolarWinds breach. Cybercriminals accessed and embedded a backdoor in its Orion network monitoring product.

Supply chains are massive in scope and complex, making attacks difficult to trace. Cybercriminals compromise the weakest entity in the supply chain and gain access to sensitive business information, customer records, and more. They target organisations using cyberattacks such as:  

  • Data Breaches: Supply chain attacks are commonly used to perform data breaches. The SolarWinds hack exposed the sensitive data of multiple public and private sector organizations.  
  • Malware Infections: Threat actors exploit supply chain vulnerabilities to deliver malware to a target organization. SolarWinds included the delivery of a malicious backdoor.  

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