Top Supply Chain Cybersecurity Risks

In the past few years, cybercriminals have successfully carried out attacks on industries ranging from insurance companies to meat manufactures. So, what are the top cybersecurity risks for the supply chain? And how can your organization protect itself?

Top Cybersecurity Risks for the Supply Chain

Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks mimic traditional ransom schemes. Only instead of holding a person or item hostage, hackers break into a business’s computers and encrypt (or kidnap) their data. To re-access their files, organizations must pay the demanded sum. Often, fees run into millions of dollars. In May 2021, a cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline forced the company to shut down the gasoline supply to much of the Eastern Seaboard. Colonial Pipelined paid nearly $5 million to regain control of their systems.

Prevention Tips: Since hackers usually take advantage of lax procedures to launch a ransomware attack, ongoing cybersecurity reviews are the best defense. For instance, Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount admitted the company wasn’t using multifactor authentication. As a result, the hackers broke into the system with a single password.

Supply Chain Attacks

A supply chain attack, or third-party attack, occurs when a cybercriminal uses an outside supplier to gain access to other businesses. The criminal slips malicious code or a malicious component into a trusted piece of software or hardware. Thus, a single well-placed intrusion can negatively affect not only a single organization but also all their customers. For example, in 2020, hackers broke into software company SolarWind’s systems and added code to their network management software program. Then, SolarWinds unknowingly sent out software updates to its customers WITH the hacked code. In the end, at least 18,000 institutions were impacted including Microsoft, Intel, and multiple federal agencies.

Prevention Tips: Unfortunately, supply chain attacks are particularly difficult to detect. Therefore, businesses must know who their hardware and software suppliers are. And they must hold these organizations to the same cybersecurity standards they expect from themselves.

Endpoint Attacks

An endpoint is a remote computing device, such as a laptop or mobile device, that communicates with a network. Cybercriminals can exploit unsecured endpoints to break into a company’s computer systems. The 2013 Target data breach is an example of both an endpoint and a third-party attack. An employee at Fazio Mechanical, one of Target’s vendors, opened a phishing email that installed malware on their endpoints. The hackers eventually collected and used Fazio’s employees’ login credentials to access Target’s Point of Sale system.

Prevention Tips: To avoid endpoint attacks, organizations should require ALL devices to meet established security standards. This especially is important for those working remotely. Training employees to use strong passwords as well as multifactor authentication is essential also.

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