As remote working has become the new norm and e-Commerce has seen a boom like never before. Today, the Supply Chain Attack threat looms heavily upon organizations. As e-Commerce expands, supply chains become more and more complex for organizations.
It poses a significant challenge to consider all the vendors that have access to your system and data. The hackers exploit any vulnerability in the security system of these vendors or partners to launch an attack on the organization, which is usually a significant and high-value company.
So, there is always a hidden security threat to the organizations that might originate from the company’s partners or suppliers. It is about time that organizations have all the answers to these two most essential questions threatening their security, what is a supply chain attack? How to prevent it?
- Understanding Supply-Chain Attack
Let us first try to understand what a supply chain is. A supply chain essentially refers to a network of all the resources, individuals or organizations, activities, and technology used to create and sell a product. A Supply-Chain Attack, sometimes known as a value-chain attack or third party attack, are the attack against the high value and big targets. Wherein hackers gain access to the organization’s network system by exploiting vulnerabilities in the security system of the supply chain, business partners, or suppliers having access to your system or data.
Supply-Chain Attacks are very complex attacks requiring meticulous planning that can cause severe financial losses to the organization apart from damaging its reputation. Some major supply chain attacks are the 2013 Target data breach, costing them around $61 million in response to the attack. The more recent 2020 supply chain attack, the Solar Winds attack, the vendor of networking tools that involved its high profile clients, government agencies, top accountancy firms, around 250 firms were affected.
Risks involved with the Supply Chain Attacks today are higher than ever before for organizations owing to more complex attack designs. With more tools and technology available to the hackers, increased chances of security oversight by the organizations with ever-expanding vendor databases, and a rise in awareness among the masses, any Supply Chain Attack can cause a severe dent in the very existence of your brand.
- How Does The Supply-Chain Attack Work?
The Supply Chain Attack uses authorized processes to infiltrate the target organization’s network system, e.g., already trusted and widely distributed software. This attack starts by breaking into the weak link of the security system of a trusted and authorized vendor. Once getting access to the vendor network system, the malware needs to be injected into a digitally signed software of the hosting vendor. After this is done, it becomes effortless for the hackers to get across all its client database networks. As digital signature authenticates the software to its developer or the vendor, the malicious code, taking a cover behind the digitally signed software update, gets easy and legitimate access to all the networked clients of the compromised vendor.
So, the software updates that contain the malware carry a backdoor that connects with all the other third-party vendor networks, from where the malware is widely distributed. When the victim or the targeted organization installs the infected software update from the compromised vendor, the malware also gets installed with the digitally signed software, and the supply-chain attack starts. After the malicious code is installed, a remote access trojan(RAT) is used by cyber attackers to access the sensitive data of each of the infected host services.
- Types Of Supply-Chain Attacks
There are mainly two types of attacks that target the supply chain of the organizations.
- Island hopping attacks
Target high-value organizations with an extensive network of digitally connected suppliers to the central organization like various applications and databases. Island Hopping attacks occur when hackers hack into the smaller partners or suppliers associated with the target organization, lacking proper security structure. This type of attack is characterized by hackers breaking into one network and then hopping onto the associated main target network.
- Supply chain attacks
There are different because they tend to exploit the authorized organizations’ trust with the target organization. Usually, this type of attack works by planting a backdoor into a software product supplied to the target organizations. This software allows the hacker to break into the main organization’s network without noticing and maybe insert malware into the system files causing significant harm.
As the backdoor is already in place, attacks are carried out sometimes with the help of trojanized automated patches and, on other occasions, through some other trojanized software updates. These attacks are most commonly carried out through trusted and legal network security companies or antivirus vendors associated with the big, high-value companies that are the targets of the hackers.
We have had complete insight into the supply-chain attack, its types, and how it works. Let us try to figure out some practical solutions to supply-chain attacks to which organizations must pay attention to improve their security posture.
- Have Restricted Access As Part Of Your Security Policy
With such an extensive and widespread network of vendors that have come to be involved with organizations. After digitalization and supply chains becoming so complex, it has become tough to keep a tap on which supplier or vendor is having access to your system and which data. So, the organizations need to have systems in place to map down every vendor on the supply chain and limit their access to only that data which is just enough for them to complete their jobs.
This way, you will be able to assess the third-party risk management activities. In addition, strong vendor access controls can be implemented with the help of multi-factor identification. Also, network segmentation works very well in limiting vendor access. Finally, care should be taken to delete the organization’s data from the various systems of the vendor whose work contract has expired.
- Identify And Secure Your Most Sensitive Assets
You must see from the eyes of the intruders and then identify the assets that fall into the most high-risk zone of being targeted by the hackers. For example, your intellectual property, client’s crucial information, etc., so identifying such assets will help you decide which section of the supply chain needs to be protected on a priority basis.
- Third-Party Risk Assessment Is A Must
Risk assessment of the third party must identify the vendor risk and security ratings so obtained and give an accurate picture of the vendor’s security preparedness. These assessments can be carried out using several on-site inspections, creating simulations to assess the response capacity, penetration tests, responding to security questionnaires, etc.
- Use SSL Certificate Security To Protect All Your User’s Interactions
Seal all your interactions on your website with your users with SSL Certificate security. SSL Certificate encrypts all the communication between the user’s web browser and the client-server and protects it from any data breach using cyberattacks like Man-in-the-middle attacks. After SSL Certificate is installed on the server, the website’s protocol changes from HTTP to secured HTTPS.
SSL Certificate also provides authentication to the website. Many SSL Certificate providers have an array of SSL Certificates catering to different security needs and budgets. Multi-domain SSL Certificates give an effective security solution by securing multiple domains with just a single certificate. The Multi-Domain SSL Certificate provides modifying and adding the Subject Alternative Name(SAN) field. This SSL Certificate is most appropriate for protecting multiple names across different domains and subdomains.
- Continuous Monitoring Of Insider Threats
It is always advisable to monitor the network activities that could alert security teams of misuse of any credentials. The act could be an act of carelessness or lack of training of an employee or maybe falling in for any phishing attempt by any bad external player; whatever it may take, the safety of your organization should be your topmost priority.
- You Must Include Security Language In Vendor Contracts
Security language does form an essential part of vendor contracts as having a solid security information policy forms the basis of the vendor relationship with the organization. It must include provisions like the right to assess the vendor’s security position, the right to dictate the terms regarding handling data during their contract period, the right to information to any data breach discovered within a specified period, etc.
We can say that proper implementation of the third-party risk management strategies discussed above should help your organization lower the risk and effect of Supply-Chain Attacks. As a result, you will surely be able to take your organization to embrace future success.