What is a Supply Chain Attack?

What is a Supply Chain Attack?

Feb 21, 2021 / Kron

Supply chain attacks, which have been among the types of cyberattacks 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 financial lose of millions of dollars and suffering from the negative impact of the lost brand image. 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 the examples and the measures that can be taken to prevent supply attacks.

What is a Supply Chain?

The concept of "supply chain" can suggest different meanings for different industries. But the concept in here can be described as the hardware or software solutions that are linked to each other and implemented to an organizations IT network with the aim of maximum efficiency. These sources that are not controlled, patched or updated periodically brings out the risk of cyberattacks that are meant to be secure for the ultimate productivity.

What is a Supply Chain Attack?

A supply chain attack is also a type of cyberattack that seeks to infiltrate in an organization’s or enterprise’s database via abusing network vulnerabilities. These cyberattacks exploits vulnerabilities in hardware or software to reach the sensitive data of a government agency or an enterprise. Supply chain attacks are generally occurs with malicious code snippets and similar to that with malicious programs included in software updates. On the other hand, supply chain attacks can also be carried out by a physical component that is provided from the 3rd party supplier.

The Types of the 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

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

  • Software Supply Chain Attacks

Due to the fast pace of digitalization of companies, government agencies or NPOs needed to restructure their IT networks and since the transformation began, attack surface started to expand for the organizations. This gives cyberattackers a chance to break into a network through vulnerable software tools or services of a supplier with malicious codes. These malicious tools that are implemented and linked to each other in an IT network, especially in an environment with insufficient security measurements or full of vulnerabilities leaves the ajar to the cyber threats and increases the risk of data breaches. Eventually, the attack that originated from a software that is implemented to a supply chain called the software supply chain attack.

  • Firmware Supply Chain Attacks

Firmware infiltration is one of the most preferred form of supply chain attacks by cyberattackers that can spread very rapidly and take a very 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 Cases  

Case #1

One of the important cyberattacks in last couple of years has affected dozens of different government agencies including the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the biggest companies of the Fortune 500 list. The theft of red team tools enables cyberattackers to misconduct these tools to gain control of targeted systems and gives an opportunity to increase in the impact of the attack within the networks.

Case #2

In another case, the basis of these supply chain attack leans on the infiltration and silent monitoring in the background instead of downloading or leaking data instantly is based on the software and the firmware updates that is done by a 3rd party vendor. Malicious code leaking into the systems of countless organizations enables the tracking of data passing through servers for months.

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

As they require a high level of security, supply chain attacks require important measures such as the Zero Trust. Therefore, in today's world where all business models are increasingly digitalized, it is very important for businesses to take these and similar measures urgently in order to ensure their cyber security. Contact us to take preventive steps against similar cyberattacks on you data and access security and learn all the details about the privileged access management (PAM).

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