Supply Chain Cyberattacks and How to Protect Your Business

Written by Jasmine Tatter

Cybercriminals are always looking for the easiest way into an organization’s network. If you’ve shored up your defenses, you might think your safe, that there is no easy way for a cyberattack to be launched. Unfortunately, if any point in your supply chain is vulnerable, then so are you, no matter how much you have done to protect your organization.

According to IBM, supply chain cyberattacks make up more than half of all security breaches and cost an average of U.S. $4.46 million. Let’s take a look at what supply chain cyberattack is and how you can protect your company.

What Is a Supply Chain Cyberattack?

A supply chain cyberattack is an attack that is launched through vulnerabilities in your supply chain. These vulnerabilities are typically linked to vendors that do not have adequate security. These vendors can include manufacturers, vendors, and other third-party organizations that need access to their customers’ systems in order to provide their services.

Supply chain cyberattacks aren’t just a danger to your organization. A single vendor can have dozens of customers. Once an attacker gains access through their system, it can affect all their customers, making this an easy way for an attacker to maximize the impact of a single attack.

How a Supply Chain Cyberattack Works

The goal behind a supply chain cyberattack is to exploit the trust between a vendor and an organization. Attackers will survey the supply chain and find the weakest link, that is, the vendor with the weakest security. While any service provider in your supply chain can be the source of an attack, there are two types that are most common supply chain attack surfaces. These are:

  • Managed service providers (MSPs) – If service providers, such as those offering cloud or computing services, have weak security measures, an attacker can gain access to their network, and from there gain access to customer networks that would be difficult to access directly.
  • Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines – Also known as automated software development processes, an attacker can compromise an essential part of the pipeline and then use that access to insert malicious code or security vulnerabilities into a software before it is delivered to customers.

How to Protect Against a Supply Chain Cyberattack

With the potential risk from your supply chain, it is important to protect your business. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to minimize the potential of a cyberattack coming at you through your supply chain.

Know your vendors

Know who your vendors are, how your supply chain works, and the part each vendor plays within that supply chain. This will help give you the visibility in your supply chain that you need to assess it for potential vulnerabilities and risks.

Educate your vendors

Encourage your vendors to ensure their employees are educated on cybersecurity, how to detect potential attacks, and how to handle them. If your supplier doesn’t have a structured learning program and you do, consider offering to train their employees on the importance of cybersecurity, cybersecurity best practices, and how to protect sensitive data.

Understand the supply chain threat landscape

Once you have a solid understanding of your suppliers, you can map out the threat landscape through an analysis of each supplier’s security posture, determine the risk profile of each supplier, determine which are the weakest links in your supply chain, and prioritize the threats accordingly.

Establish security policies and protocols

Make sure you have up-to-date security policies in place that include your supply chain security and establish security protocols for suppliers that provide clear direction on access control, data protection, and incident response. These protocols should also require suppliers to have adequate firewalls, passwords, multifactor authentication, and encryption in place.

Use the principle of least privilege

The principle of least privilege ensures that no one can access assets and resources without the proper authorization. Implementing secure privileged access management (PAM) will ensure that if an attacker gains access to your system, they will be less likely to move laterally through your network to gain access to other parts of the system. It will also ensure your suppliers can only access those parts of your network that are necessary to provide their services.

Continuously monitor your supply chain

With continuous monitoring of your supply chain, you will be able to catch security incidents as they happen. With a robust incident response plan in place, you can then respond to incidents as they happen.

Develop a supply chain security strategy

Develop a security strategy that involves working closely with your service providers to protect the physical flow of assets and the virtual flow of data. This will allow for a coordinated response to cybersecurity that will help keep you and everyone in your supply chain safe.

It’s up to you to choose service providers, vendors, and other members of your supply chain that have a healthy security posture. The last thing you want is to put all the effort and resources into your own cybersecurity only to have a vendor on your supply chain compromise it.

Working closely with a security partner can help you get a good view of your cybersecurity landscape, including your supply chain. At Platinum Technologies, we offer a full security assessment and security consulting services. We will help you assess your supply chain, identify vulnerabilities, and develop a robust security plan that will keep you safe.

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