Nowadays, businesses are interconnected with each other to gain help and provide best services or products. Businesses need help from other businesses to deliver their services to end consumers. For example, company A provides raw material to company B to make products or company C provides cybersecurity services to company D to keep their communication and assets secure from cyber-attacks.
This chain of supply is of great benefit for businesses around the globe. However, this benefit also comes with some risks, especially the cybersecurity risk in the supply chain management.
Small and Medium Businesses as the weakest link in a supply chain
Small and medium businesses are a hot target for cybercriminals as by infiltrating small and medium businesses networks, threat actors can reach big organizations because of the interconnection of their networks.
According to the report from Sonatype, supply chain attacks were increased by more than 12,000 with over year growth of 650%.
When companies relate to each other to share information for business, there is a great chance that one compromised network of a company can be a threat to the network of other companies as well. When networks are interconnected, there must be some degree of trust between those networks and cyber criminals exploit this trust factor to launch supply chain cyber-attack. When threat actors infiltrate one company network and use this network to gain access to connected networks of other companies, this is known as Island Hoping Attack.
Key supply chain cybersecuirty risks
During the first quarter of 2021 in the US, supply chain cyber-attacks have been on the rise of 42%. The most newsworthy recent supply chain attacks were on SolarWinds and Kaseya.
Big organizations have a high budget to apply sophisticated cybersecurity to protect their assets. Due to this reason, it is complicated and extremely difficult to directly launch successful cyber-attack for those organizations.
Cybercriminals’ target small and medium businesses which are interconnected with big organizations, and we have seen a lot of examples of successful supply chain attacks in the past.
A security researcher at UC Berkeley international computer science institute, Nick Weaver says, “Supply chain attacks are scary because they are hard to deal with, and because they make it clear you are trusting a whole ecology. You are trusting every vendor whose code is on your machine, and you are trusting every vendor's vendor”.
Cybersecurity risks associated with supply chain management (SCM) are:
- Providing physical or digital network access to any third party or vendor
- Using cloud infrastructure
- Making the purchase or use of malicious software or hardware from third party supplier or vendor
- Any vulnerability in supplier system or software of SCM
- Negligence of security implementation from low-level suppliers or vendors
Supply chain attacks are a concerning matter because they do not only affect the target organization but also disturb the whole supply and demand chain around the globe. Due to disturbance in the supply of goods or services, prices can go up, which affects end consumers.
How to prevent supply chain attacks
Fortunately, if there are cyber risks associated to supply chain management then there are solutions as well. Governments frequently publishing guidelines for businesses to keep their networks protected from supply chain attacks. Some of these guidelines include Best Practices In Cyber Supply Chain Risk Management by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and Supply Chain Security Guidance by NCSC.
Apart from these, there are some more ways about how to protect cyber-attack in supply chain management. They must be added to cyber security strategy along with NIST or NSCS guidelines.
1. Limit your suppliers
It is difficult to protect a large network as a compared small one. Try to limit your suppliers so your network remains interconnected with fewer external networks which will decrease the chance of cyber-attack.
2. Apply Zero Trust Network
Companies must apply a zero trust network, where every external and internal access must be authenticated and authorized. You must provide minimum access to external users like suppliers and vendors. All other traits of ZTN (Zero Trust Network) like segmentation, lateral movement, and MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) must be implemented to defend against cyber-attack on supply chain management.
3. Use IDS/IPS
Intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) continuously monitor your network, detect potential incidents, record the information, and report them to security administrators. Furthermore, some networks employ IDS/IPS to detect problems with security regulations and prevent individuals from violating them. IDS/IPS have become a necessary addition to most organizations' security infrastructure as they can stop attackers while they gather information about your network.
4. Choose vendor wisely
You must choose your suppliers or third-party vendors wisely. Steps to prevent cyber-attacks must be included in the contract. Supply chains attack is mostly successful because when a single network is compromised then all other interconnected networks of other organizations are at risk. Therefore, you must choose your suppliers and vendors who take their security seriously and who are reliable to trust on.
5. Up to date security architecture
If you have taken all the above steps along with some extra security precautions, but you did not keep your security architecture updated then you are completely exposed to cybercriminals and low-hanging fruit for them. Up to date security architecture involves, keeping your software’s updated, applying security patches on time, providing security awareness training to your employees. In the past, most of the supply chain attacks went successful because their targeted system was not updated to the latest version or no latest security patch was installed, or human error made their attacks successful.
Small and medium businesses are most vulnerable to supply chain attacks that can lead to devastating outcomes in terms of massive cyber-attacks on big organizations. Small and medium businesses must implement security mechanisms to mitigate cybersecurity risk in supply chain management.
Contact Humanize experts and learn how Salience can safeguard your enterprise from cyber-attacks.