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Defending Against the Supply Chain Attacks


Supply chain attacks have been growing in prevalence, to the point of crippling critical infrastructures throughout the world. Read on to know how to mitigate the supply chain attacks…

Over the last few years, we’ve read a lot about “supply chains” in various industries, and the cybersecurity industry is no exception. The physical supply of gasoline to consumers was disrupted when Colonial Pipeline was targeted by ransomware. On the software side, ransomware distributed via a SolarWinds update and vulnerabilities identified in Apache’s Log4J wreaked havoc on businesses all over the world.

The SolarWinds Orion data breach not only demonstrated the deadly potential of supply chain attacks, but it also revealed threating flaws in traditional protection mechanisms that allow for such attacks. Despite the fact that the SolarWinds breach was the most sophisticated cyberattack in history, firms can still use defense tactics to greatly strengthen their digital supply chain.

The domino effect of any software supply chain attack is particularly concerning. To gain a better understanding of these threats and it’s crucial to know about them and how businesses can better defend against supply chain attacks.

Working of Software Supply Chain Attack
A software supply chain attack exploits the trust between entities and any company that employs third-party software, collaborates with a software vendor, or outsources development builds a level of trust with an third party. As a result, this party is a component of the software supply chain.

It can be due to an unsecured trusted vendor, supply chain attacks can succeed even if a company has put in place strong cybersecurity protections. After breaching a vendor’s network or codebase, attackers can use that chain of trust to pivot to other networks and attack surfaces downstream.

Malware can be distributed to organization’s customers through software supply chain attacks. For instance, threat actors gained access to the company’s build servers and injected a backdoor into updates to the SolarWinds Orion network monitoring software during the SolarWinds attack. Threat actors gained access to client networks once the updated code was pushed to SolarWinds customers.

Threat Mitigation
To mitigate the risks associated with third parties and to prevent supply chain attacks, the following practices can be helpful

Zero Trust Approach: A zero trust approach is critical for lowering supply chain cyberattack risk due to the many moving pieces – data, products, and integrations. Assume that any device, user, or data is insecure until otherwise proven. You may often decrease and eliminate threats to the supply chain this way.

Open Source Software Scanning: Open Source Scanning or OSS software like Snyk or WhiteSource are critical for supply chain hardening. This software will look through the package’s dependencies and compare them to their extensive database of vulnerable packages and versions to see if your application is susceptible to any vulnerablities. In many circumstances, if a dependency has a known vulnerability, especially one classified as critical, these packages can automatically update it to the most latest safe version. If no update is available, however, it is critical that you use a different module or package because this indicates that the software is no longer maintained.

Identify Attack Vectors: You must understand how threat actors can infiltrate your organization in order to mitigate risks. This kind of information can help in the incident response process. Improved developer security education, mitigation and remediation steps, and implementing security testing procedures can all benefit from a greater understanding of the threat environment. Be aware of the limitations of each security tool or practice at your disposal, and make sure you have a solution or procedure in place to detect and respond to every potential attack vector.

Cybersecurity Training: Employees should understand how software supply chain attacks take place and what role they have in detecting, resolving, and preventing of such threats. In the security awareness training, employees should be educated on all areas of cybersecurity, including password security, social engineering attack methodologies, secure coding, testing practices, and company policies. Employees that have a better understanding of threats are better able to prevent attacks, respond promptly to active attacks, and protect the organization’s critical systems and sensitive data.

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