What is a Supply Chain Attack?

What is a Supply Chain Attack?

Supply chain attacks, which have been a type of cyberattack known for many years, are carried out by taking advantage of multi-channel and highly vulnerable services. This makes supply chain attacks difficult to control, and causes dozens of different organizations to lose of millions of dollars and suffer from negative impact on their brand image and reputation. In order to create a perfect cyber security network, there are some important details you need to know. In this blog, we are going to examine the scope of supply chain attacks, with examples and measures that can be taken to prevent them.

What is a Supply Chain?

The concept of "supply chain" can suggest different meanings for different industries. But in this context, it can be described as the hardware or software solutions linked to each other and implemented in the organization’s IT network with the aim of maximum efficiency. These resources, that are not controlled, patched, or updated periodically, increase the risk of cyberattacks are need to be secure for ultimate productivity.

What is a Supply Chain Attack?

A supply chain attack is also a type of cyberattack that seeks to infiltrate an organization’s or enterprise’s database by abusing network vulnerabilities. These cyberattacks exploit vulnerabilities in hardware or software to access the sensitive data of a government agency or enterprise. Supply chain attacks generally occur with malicious code snippets or malicious programs included in software updates. Supply chain attacks can also be carried out by a physical component that is provided by a 3rd party supplier.

Types of Supply Chain Attacks

It is possible to categorize supply chain attacks into three types that occurs via hardware, software and firmware. Here's what you need to know about the supply chain attack methods cyberattackers prefers.

  • Hardware Supply Chain Attacks

The hardware attack method is the simplest and cheapest supply chain attack, tracking different hardware, like motherboards, USB drivers, or ethernet cables, that enable the hacker to capture the data that is transferred. Since these actions are easily noticeable, hardware supply chain attacks are not preferred by cyber attackers.

  • Software Supply Chain Attacks

Due to the fast pace of digitalization in companies, government agencies, or NPOs needed to restructure their IT networks and since this transformation began, the attack surface expanded considerably. This gives cyber attackers a chance to break into a network through vulnerable software tools or services using malicious codes. These malicious tools are implemented and linked to each other in an IT network, especially in an environment with insufficient security measurements or full of vulnerabilities, and leave the door ajar to cyber threats, increasing the risk of data breaches. Eventually, the attack that originated from software is implemented in a supply chain, resulting in a software supply chain attack.

  • Firmware Supply Chain Attacks

Firmware infiltration is one of the most preferred form of supply chain attacks and can spread very rapidly and take on large scale, just like software-based attacks. On the other hand, software and firmware-based attacks require much more knowledge and skills than hardware-based attacks.

Supply Chain Attack Incidents 

Incident #1

One of the most important cyberattacks in the last couple of years affected dozens of different government agencies, including the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the largest companies of the Fortune 500 list. The theft of red team tools enabled cyber attackers to misuse these tools to gain control of targeted systems and giving them an opportunity to increase the impact of the attack within the networks.

Incident #2

On another occasion, the base of the supply chain attack leaned on the infiltration and silent monitoring in the background instead of downloading or leaking data instantly. It exploited software and firmware updates done by a 3rd party vendor. Malicious code leaking into the systems of countless organizational areas enabled the tracking of data passing through various servers for months.

In a statement regarding this large-scale supply chain attack, the company in question mentioned that they were faced with a state-sponsored incident that is very different from what they have encountered before. They stated that this situation, which lasted until December 2020, started with updates offered as of March 2020. In addition, the company recommended urgently switching to the 2020.2.1 HF 1 version of the software to protect against these attacks, which affected the 2019.4 and 2020.2.1 versions of the vulnerable software.

As it requires a high level of security, protection against supply chain attacks undoubtably involve important security measures like Zero Trust. Therefore, in today's world where all business models are increasingly digitalized, it is very important for businesses to take these and other similar measures urgently into consideration, in order to ensure the security of their infrastructure. Contact us to take preventive steps against similar cyberattacks on you sensitive data and access security, and learn more about our Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution, Single Connect.

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