What is a Supply Chain Attack – Examples & Types ​

This cyberattack uses trusted third-party suppliers or outside partners with access to your systems and data to infiltrate your system. These threats target software developers and suppliers with the goal of accessing source codes or infecting legitimate apps to distribute malware.

Supply chain attacks can be a threat to both software and hardware. 

Types Of Supply Chain Attacks

  • Applications and  firmware installers that target the software’s source code
  • Pre-installed malware on external devices, including cameras, hard drives, USB, phones, etc.
  • Third-party or anonymous software updates that target computer boot code

How Does a Supply Chain Attack Work?

Supply chain attacks infiltrate the security defenses of an organization’s vendor network. Viruses or malware are sent via a supplier or vendor. These attacks always begin with a human compromise. 

Someone accessing an unsecured web page or responding to a phishing email may create a vulnerability in an organization’s vendor network. These viruses and malware may infiltrate a huge retail organization, collecting keystrokes to identify passwords for individual accounts.

Examples Of Supply Chain Attacks

Cybercriminals can infect many victims through supply chain attacks on each target. This greater effectiveness has escalated the use of this attack approach in recent years. Following are some of the most popular supply chain cyberattacks’ examples:

Target USA; February 2014

Cybercriminals gained access to Target USA’s sensitive data through a third-party HVAC provider, resulting in a huge data breach. As a result, cyber attackers gained access to 70 million consumers’ personal information (PII) and financial information, affecting 40 million debit and credit cards. Additionally, attackers used phishing email to get access to the HVAC third-party vendor.

Panama Papers; April 2016

In a data breach, the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca exposed over 2.6 terabytes of sensitive client information. The data hack exposed the tax cheating schemes of over 214,000 businesses and high-ranking officials. Due to the wealth of very sensitive, and thus highly valuable, client data stored in their servers, law firms tend to be the most appealing cyberattack targets.

Equifax; September 2017

The leading credit card reporting agency Equifax experienced a data breach due to an online application vulnerability. Over 147 million Equifax clients were affected by the incident. The stolen personal data includes social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, birth dates, and addresses.

Mitigate Supply Chain Attacks

The key to mitigating these risks is by educating your employees and making them more cyber aware. You must condition and train your employees to become less susceptible to malicious web pages, proper use of passwords, and phishing emails. This way, you can decrease the human risk. 

Nevertheless, the following are some of the things that you can do in addition to educating your employees to prevent supply chain attacks:

  1. The commonly known attack trajectory of supply chain cyberattacks is to access privileged accounts. Therefore, every organization must use privileged access management (PAM) frameworks to disrupt the attacker’s progression along this trajectory.
  2. Implement a zero-trust architecture (ZTA) throughout your organization, therefore, assuming all networks and network activities are malicious by default. Thus, keeping the intellectual property safe and secure using stricter policies. 
  3. It is of utmost importance to send regular third-party risk assessments to your supply chain. It will help identify and remediate the cyber gaps and software vulnerabilities that your vendor groups may have. 
  4. You must keep monitoring your vendor network for security vulnerabilities. You can use a third-party cyberattack monitoring solution to identify and surface all the software vulnerabilities.
  5. Although it is a hectic and time-consuming process, still, identifying data leaks can help scale the supply chain security more efficiently and faster than ever before

Defend your link of the supply chain by empowering your workforce with cyber awareness.