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How to Protect Yourself from Dangerous Supply Chain Cyberattacks

by | Nov 18, 2022 | Common Questions, Cyber Security

The connected global economy makes it easier than ever for hackers to carry out supply chain cyberattacks on businesses. Since vendors often share information with each other, targeting one company can often give malicious actors access to data from multiple organizations. Here’s some more information about supply chain cyberattacks, how they work, and how to protect yourself and your business. If you have any questions please give us a call at (312) 561-9703.

What Is a Supply Chain Attack?

Cybersecurity Wordle
by Melissa Kelley is licensed with CC BY-ND 2.0

A supply chain attack is a type of cyberattack that impacts a third-party vendor, its clients, and its customers. Most supply chain attacks are against the software supply chain. This includes all the cloud-based services and software a business relies on. After adding malicious code or a back door to an application, hackers can target any business using the app, eventually getting information from many customers.

For example, in 2013, hackers attacked Target by installing software on a shared network. They likely gained access through cash registers from a third-party vendor or a third-party HVAC contractor. After they added the malware, it recorded credit card numbers and other information from about 40 million people. In 2017, Target agreed to pay $18.5 million to settle claims about the data breach from the District of Columbia and 47 states.

How Supply Chain Attacks Work

Hackers often use supply chain attacks instead of targeting companies directly. That way, they can take advantage of security vulnerabilities with third-party vendors. This lets them access sensitive information, even when the company itself has excellent security. Some supply chain cyberattacks use ransomware instead or in addition to software that targets essential data. Ransomware keeps existing software from working properly, and it can force businesses to shut down until the program gets removed. Hackers ask for payment to remove the malicious software and keep businesses from being exposed to other losses.

Protecting Your Business From Supply Chain Cyberattacks

Protecting your business from supply chain cyberattacks and enhancing the rest of your company’s cybersecurity helps prevent losses. It also keeps customers and clients from worrying about their data security after an attack and deciding to do business with a competitor instead. As these types of hacks become more prevalent than in the past, the importance of prevention will increase.

According to Business Insider, most firms have faced negative impacts due to past attacks, and breaches increased by an average of 37% per year during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve put together a list of some ways to avoid losses from supply chain cyberattacks.

Assess Vendors Carefully

Before you decide which vendors your business will use or what types of software and third-party tools suit your needs best, it’s a good idea to examine their security procedures and cybersecurity measures. Researching past data breaches and vendors’ responses can be helpful as well. After you decide which suppliers to use, review their security policies regularly. These suppliers can include manufacturers of components your business needs to create products, software companies that provide regular updates, third-party service providers such as customer service and delivery companies, and more.

Use Zero Trust Architecture

Zero trust architecture assumes that all network activity could be malicious. With this type of security, each connection can only access sensitive data and intellectual property if it complies with a strict set of rules. A zero trust architecture uses a policy engine, a policy administrator, and a policy enforcement point.

The policy engine determines whether network traffic is permitted by following the rules set by the zero trust architecture’s trust algorithm. Then, the policy administrator transmits the decision to the policy enforcement point. The policy enforcement point acts as a gatekeeper, blocking or permitting network requests based on this decision. With zero trust architecture, all communications, including those with vendors and third parties, go through rigorous security checks to make supply chain cyberattacks and other forms of hacking much more difficult.

A wide variety of security tools can help keep a company’s data safe and prevent costly breaches. For example, firewalls can often detect and block substantial amounts of data leaving a network because this type of traffic could indicate a breach. Antivirus software can detect many types of ransomware and other malware.

Create an Incident Response Plan

Businesses should prepare for a possible compromise by creating an incident response plan. This plan should identify critical business components, define the roles of different employees in incident response, and delineate a communication strategy for letting partners and customers know about a breach. Incident response plans usually include actions such as asking employees and customers to update their passwords and reminding them how they can report suspicious transactions or communications. It’s a smart idea to update your incident response plan regularly to help your business keep up with technological advances and changes in the strategies that hackers use most often.

Be Cautious About Using Open-Source Software

Open-source software lets anyone distribute it, make changes, and alter the source code. In some circumstances, it can be more secure than commercial products because a variety of people participate in its development, and anyone can examine the code for vulnerabilities. However, hackers can use the ability to examine and edit open-source software code to add malware or ransomware.

Look for Potential Vulnerabilities and Attacks

The people working in your IT department should spend a regular portion of their time searching for potential supply chain vulnerabilities and attacks in progress. Many types of malware are designed to stay hidden for as long as possible so they can continue gathering data. Quickly identifying malicious software can help your company minimize damage from a supply chain cyberattack.

Let Spot Migration Keep Your Company Secure

For more information about protecting your business from supply chain cyberattacks, contact us at Spot Migration. We can help support your current IT team and help you decide which strategies to prevent supply chain cyberattacks are best for your business. We also offer cloud services, data backup and recovery, work-from-home solutions, on-site IT support, internet phone solutions, and much more.


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