Supply Chain Attacks

Like Moore’s Law’s predictions for processing speeds, technology is a dynamic field in which we continuously develop and advance. On the contrary, as software and hardware vulnerabilities develop, cybersecurity grows more diverse and complex, creating a broader and more challenging digital environment for security professionals. 

According to Gartner, Digital Supply Chain Risk is one of the top seven themes in cyber security for 2022. Hackers are constantly refining their techniques to make the most significant impact with the least amount of work. One example of such a success is the acceptance of the ransomware-as-a-service model.

But the development of supply chain attacks may have marked the pinnacle of cyberattack effectiveness.

Attacks on supply chains have become more frequent to the point that they are threatening vital American infrastructure. President Joe Biden has signed a bold Executive Order requiring a total overhaul of supply chain cybersecurity standards across all government agencies and the business sectors to slow this trend drastically.

What Exactly Are Supply Chain Attacks?

A supply chain attack is a kind of cyberattack in which a company is compromised due to flaws in its supply chain. Typically, suppliers with weak security postures are responsible for these vulnerabilities.

Because vendors need access to users’ personal information to connect with them, if a vendor is breached, users’ data may also be affected.

A single compromised vendor frequently causes a data breach that affects several firms since vendors have an extensive user network. This makes supply chain attacks so effective because it allows several targets to be compromised from a single vendor rather than laboriously penetrating each target one at a time.

Why Are Supply Chain Attacks Increasing?

Expanding services, suppliers, and other parties have dramatically improved business productivity and financial planning. Businesses may now acquire goods and support services from a global supply at reasonable prices because of the expansion of software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings and the wide acceptance of cloud hosting. Employees can now operate effectively from any location.

To reduce overhead expenses and employee numbers, businesses can outsource their IT and security administration to managed service providers (MSPs).

Although using these third-party services helps businesses save time and money, there are potential cybersecurity hazards. 

According to NTT Security Holdings’ 2022 Global Threat Intelligence Report, cybercriminals seeking to broaden the scope of their assaults have increasingly targeted third-party vendors to use them as a stepping stone to target thousands of downstream clients in supply chain attacks. 

The analysis predicts that these supply chain attacks will become more prevalent as cyber criminals replicate and learn from one another.

How to Prevent Supply Chain Attacks?

Some of the best practices that businesses can use to strengthen their defense against supply chain attacks include the ones listed below:

  • Conduct Regular Software Vulnerability Scans

Most businesses use open-source software in some capacity. A sizable portion of market-used commercial software products also contains open source technology. Numerous open-source software products may have flaws that need to be fixed or upgraded. 

The Log4j attack is a prime example of attackers using known security flaws to access the application code and launch the attack. In other instances, hackers introduce malicious code or malware inside pre-existing software packages to install or update the program while gaining access to other networks.

  • Implement Honeytokens

Tripwire-like honeytokens let businesses know when strange activity is happening in their network. They are phony resources masquerading as private information. Attackers mistake these bogus resources for valuable assets, and when they interact with them, a signal is set out that notifies the intended target organization of an attempted attack.

This discloses the specifics of each breaching technique and provides enterprises with early warnings of data breach attempts. With this information, organizations can identify the precise resources being attacked and employ the best incident response strategies for each type of cyberattack.

In cases when a cyberattacker isn’t hiding behind a firewall, honeytokens may even be able to identify and pinpoint the attacker. Vendors should use honeytoken to prevent supply chain assaults as effectively as possible.

  • Monitor The Security Posture Of Partners

Enterprises must first make a list of all the software vendors that are present in their internal ecosystem. This covers MSPs, software service providers, and email service providers. Businesses must inquire about the procedures they use to update or scan for vulnerabilities in their current software tools.

Many times, even a minor flaw in the software of external partners who have access to your internal systems might allow attackers to gain entry and launch an assault. Businesses can also take into account tools for attack route analysis, which aids security teams in understanding the potential attack surface in their network.

  • Determine All Possible Insider Threats 

Nefarious motives don’t usually drive insider threats. Most of the time, people are not aware of the dangers posed by their conduct. Training in cyber danger awareness will weed out such gullible end users.

Threats from hostile insiders might be challenging to spot. Because they can give threat actors the unique access they need to facilitate a software supply chain attack, they are also substantially riskier. Regular employee surveys for feedback and a welcoming workplace environment will solve issues before they develop into aggressive insider threats.

  • Reduce Access To Sensitive Information

The first step is to locate every access point for sensitive data. You can use this to keep track of every employee and vendor using your sensitive resources right now. The attack surface for privileged access increases with the number of privileged access roles. Hence the number of such accounts should be kept to a minimum.

Given the possibility that vendors could become the initial targets of a supply chain attack, vendor access needs to be carefully examined. List every vendor who presently has access to your sensitive data, along with their levels of access. You can learn more about how each provider handles and safeguards your sensitive data using questionnaires.

After obtaining all relevant third-party access data, the culling procedure can start. Only the least amount of sensitive data necessary to provide their services should be accessible to service providers.

  • Impose Stringent Shadow IT Regulations

All IT equipment that a company’s security staff has not vetted is called “shadow IT.” As a result of the recent widespread acceptance of a remote-working paradigm, many employees are setting up their home offices with their own personal IT equipment.

All IT equipment should be registered, and there should be clear rules regarding what can and cannot be linked, according to IT security agencies. To identify DDoS assaults conducted through the supply chain, all authorized devices (particularly IoT devices) should be monitored.


In addition to these recommended practices, businesses may want to consider hiring managed security service providers with the know-how and experience to continuously monitor networks for suspicious activity and perform maintenance tasks like patching and vulnerability scanning.

The aforementioned best practices can be an excellent place to start if you want to strengthen your security posture and lessen the likelihood of supply chain assaults, even though the path to a secure organization is always a journey rather than a destination.