What are Supply Chain Attacks? - Business IT Support | Glasgow | Ayrshire

What are Supply Chain Attacks?

A supply chain attack refers to any form of cyberattack that infects or infiltrates a business’s systems indirectly by exploiting weaknesses elsewhere in the target’s supply chain network. For example, inserting malicious code into a software product’s source code or hacking into a third-party data center to access sensitive information. Other names for supply chain attacks include: Third-party attacks Value-chain attacks Backdoor breaches Island hopping attacks

Supply Chain Attacks to Watch Out For

Supply chain attacks pose a significant cyber threat, targeting a company’s systems indirectly by exploiting vulnerabilities within the wider supply chain network.

These attacks employ a range of tactics, from injecting malicious code into software source code to breaching third-party data centres to access sensitive information.

Often referred to by other terms such as third-party attacks, value-chain breaches, backdoor compromises, and island hopping attacks, the primary concern for businesses is the potential blind spot they represent.

By targeting less secure nodes in a company’s operational chain, cybercriminals can bypass more fortified systems, posing severe risks to a firm’s data integrity and operational continuity.

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COMPROMISED SOFTWARE TOOLS

In the realm of cyber threats, hackers exploit and introduce vulnerabilities into your software development tools, infrastructure, or processes.

Consequently, this undermines the integrity of any applications you develop using these tools, subsequently exposing your customers to potential risks.

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PRE-INSTALLED MALWARE

In a malicious scenario, hackers implant malware onto your devices. This insidious software then spreads its malicious code to the systems of downstream customers when they attempt to connect to your company network.

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CORRUPTED FIRMWARE COMPONENTS

In a cunning manoeuvre, the hacker infiltrates your device’s firmware, stealthily implanting malicious code deep within its core. This clandestine operation not only provides the hacker with access but also grants them a covert foothold into the target’s systems or network.

This subtle manipulation of firmware components underscores the importance of safeguarding every layer of your technology stack, as even the seemingly impenetrable can become a vector for cyber intrusion.

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Stolen Certificates: A Deceptive Disguise

In a sly move, hackers steal official product certificates, allowing them to distribute malicious apps that look just like legitimate software products.

This misuse of trust highlights the crucial role of authentication and verification in defending both users and businesses from advanced cyber threats.

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WEBSITE BUILDERS

In a sophisticated manoeuvre, hackers infiltrate your website through vulnerabilities in your website builder. Their tactics go beyond mere entry, as they skilfully implant redirect scripts that execute a deceptive ploy. When unsuspecting visitors enter your website’s URL, these scripts covertly divert them to a malicious website.

This intricate deception not only undermines your online presence but also poses significant risks to your visitors. Preventing such compromises requires vigilant monitoring of website builder security, promptly addressing vulnerabilities, and employing robust security practices to fortify your digital presence. By doing so, you can thwart these complex cyber schemes and safeguard your website’s reputation and the trust of your online audience.

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WATERING HOLE ATTACKS

The hacker identifies supplier websites that receive a lot of traffic from a target business or multiple businesses within a specific sector. Then, they insert malware into the watering hole site – a remote access trojan, for example – that exploits weaknesses in the target’s defences to infect their systems.

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THIRD-PARTY DATA STORES

The hacker infiltrates the target’s third-party data centre to steal sensitive business or customer information. For example, via a botnet.

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Enterprises Respond to the Threat

High-profile incidents, such as the SolarWinds attack between 2019 and 2020, underscore the devastating impact of successful supply chain attacks. In this case, attackers exploited a weakness in SolarWinds’ Orion software to infect over 18,000 systems globally, including critical institutions like the US Departments of State and Health. This incident serves as a sobering reminder of the vulnerabilities in unsecured supply chains.

In response to such threats, enterprises are taking proactive measures to reduce their supply chain risks. This involves a rigorous assessment of suppliers to identify any cybersecurity deficiencies.

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Elevating Cybersecurity Awareness Among Suppliers

For modern businesses, cybersecurity concerns extend beyond their own systems to include their suppliers throughout the supply chain. Recognising that a single weak link can jeopardise the entire network, enterprises are collaborating with suppliers to enhance awareness of cyber threats. Robust cybersecurity practices are no longer optional but a necessity. Enterprises expect their suppliers to maintain a baseline level of protection and stay updated on evolving threats, adjusting their cybersecurity tools, processes, and policies accordingly.

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Implementing Stringent RFP Cybersecurity Requirements

While cybersecurity certification remains optional for most UK businesses, recent surges in cybercrime, driven by factors like COVID-19 and economic challenges, have prompted enterprises to revise their request for proposals (RFPs). Increasingly, businesses demand that suppliers demonstrate their cybersecurity credentials through official certifications, including government-backed programs like Cyber Essentials and more comprehensive accreditations such as ISO 27001.

ISO 27001, the globally recognised information security standard adopted by over 44,000 businesses worldwide, requires a thorough external audit of a company’s systems, making it more intensive and costly than Cyber Essentials. Nonetheless, it’s a mandatory requirement in certain industries, particularly finance.

In addition to certifications, enterprises are increasingly including provisions for auditing a supplier’s cybersecurity measures within their RFPs. This shift underscores the growing importance of cybersecurity in modern business partnerships.

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