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Supply chain attacks are a sophisticated type of cyberattack that targets third-party suppliers to gain access to an organization’s network and data. In a supply chain attack, attackers might exploit a vulnerability in a supplier’s software, compromise a supplier’s employee account, or even physically tamper with a supplier’s product.
Supply chain attacks are becoming increasingly common and costly. According to a recent report, the average cost of a supply chain attack is now over $4 million. And the number of supply chain attacks is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.
How supply chain attacks work
Supply chain attacks can take many different forms, but they all follow the same basic principle: attackers target a third-party supplier to gain access to an organization’s network and data.
One common type of supply chain attack is a software supply chain attack. In a software supply chain attack, attackers exploit a vulnerability in a supplier’s software to gain access to an organization’s network. For example, attackers might inject malicious code into a supplier’s software development process or compromise a supplier’s software update mechanism.
Another common type of supply chain attack is a vendor fraud attack. In a vendor fraud attack, attackers create fake or compromised websites or email accounts that impersonate legitimate suppliers. When an organization places an order with a fake supplier, the attackers are able to steal the organization’s data or install malware on the organization’s systems.
Examples of supply chain attacks
There have been a number of high-profile supply chain attacks in recent years. Some notable examples include:
- SolarWinds attack: In 2020, attackers compromised the SolarWinds Orion software development process and injected malicious code into the software. This allowed the attackers to gain access to the networks of thousands of SolarWinds customers, including US government agencies and Fortune 500 companies.
- Codecov attack: In 2021, attackers compromised the Codecov code coverage tool and injected malicious code into the tool. This allowed the attackers to gain access to the networks of thousands of Codecov customers, including GitHub and Google.
- Kaseya attack: In 2021, attackers exploited a vulnerability in the Kaseya VSA remote management software to launch a ransomware attack. This attack affected thousands of organizations around the world.
Impact of supply chain attacks
Supply chain attacks can have a devastating impact on businesses. Businesses that are victims of supply chain attacks may experience data breaches, financial losses, and reputational damage.
In addition, supply chain attacks can disrupt business operations and lead to downtime. This can be especially costly for businesses that rely on their supply chains to deliver critical products or services.
How to mitigate supply chain attacks
There are a number of things that organizations can do to mitigate supply chain attacks, including:
- Vetting suppliers: Organizations should carefully vet their suppliers to ensure that they have strong security practices in place.
- Monitoring supplier activity: Organizations should monitor their suppliers’ activity for suspicious behavior. This can be done by using security monitoring tools and by conducting regular security audits.
- Segmenting networks: Organizations should segment their networks to prevent attackers from moving laterally across the network if they are able to gain access through a supplier.
- Educating employees: Organizations should educate their employees about supply chain attacks and how to spot them.
By taking these steps, organizations can reduce their risk of being compromised by supply chain attacks.
Supply chain attacks are a growing threat to businesses of all sizes. Organizations need to take steps to mitigate this risk by vetting their suppliers, monitoring supplier activity, segmenting networks, and educating employees.
Additional tips for mitigating supply chain attacks
- Use a variety of suppliers: Don’t rely on a single supplier for any critical product or service. This will help to reduce your risk if one of your suppliers is compromised.
- Have a plan for responding to supply chain incidents: This plan should include steps for detecting, investigating, and containing incidents.
- Stay up-to-date on the latest supply chain threats and vulnerabilities: You can do this by subscribing to security alerts and advisories from security vendors and government agencies.
By following these tips, organizations can further reduce their risk of being compromised by supply chain attacks.
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