Minimize Cyber Attacks on Supply Chain

5 Necessary Steps to Protect Your Business from Supply Chain Attacks

Quick question, have you put up all the right measures to protect your business from cyber attacks? Definitely not. The truth is there will never reach a point where a business is completely safe from cyber attacks.

Yes, you have a firewall in place, you also have a network monitoring solution to detect any suspicious activity. Great. But, security measures like these are only meant to safe-proof your business against direct attacks.

And when cyber criminals can’t get to you directly, they improvise. Supply Chain attacks are a result of that improvisation and unfortunately, a lot of organizations are not yet prepared for them.


What is a supply chain attack?


A supply chain attack is a rising form of threat where cyber criminals exploit vulnerabilities in third-party software or hardware being used in your organization to gain unauthorized access into your systems.

Supply chain attacks are very hard to defend against because you trust your supplier and therefore, you are not actively scanning their products for malware. Cyber criminals also love them because they allow them a chance to infiltrate multiple systems and not just their target organization.


No one is safe


The recent SolarWinds hack is a prime example of just how severe a supply chain attack can be. Cyber criminals injected their malware named SUNBURST into a popular SolarWinds product which consequently gave them access into the networks of over 18,000 organizations that were using the product.

Among the affected organizations include NASA, the US state department, the US department of defense, and 6 other US federal agencies. Even cybersecurity firms couldn’t save themselves from the attack. FireEye, a top vendor for cyber securIty products and services was infected with the SUNBURST malware.

And you see the problem with cyber attacks is that they leave your customers questioning your ability to protect them which is bad for business. Not to mention the financial losses you incur in the form of legal costs, response costs, and business downtime.


The solution


Now, you can’t stop cyber criminals from compromising your suppliers, but you can take steps to ensure that your business is not vulnerable to these forms of attacks.

Here are 5 steps we recommend every business takes to minimize the risk of suffering supply chain attacks.



1.   Vet the security framework of third-party vendors and suppliers


Before you start working with a vendor make sure that they have a solid security framework and they have auditable proof that they adhere to this framework.

According to CISA, cyber criminals got into the SolarWinds servers through password guessing. But, even an amateur hacker would have had no trouble guessing the password that the company had chosen, solarwinds123.

Once you have established that a vendor’s security matches with your own then you can go ahead and work with them.

Alternatively, set minimum security requirements that a vendor has to have before working with you.



2.   Implement the principle of least privilege


What this means is that you give a person or software access to only the privileges necessary to function properly.

If a software’s role is to automate the employee on-boarding process then it only needs access to HR information needed by the employees to be productive. It doesn’t need to access other data stored in HR like the personal details of other employees.

We also recommend that you set procedures of how a software should interact with your system or network so that you can be alerted if there is an anomaly.



3.   Perform regular audits of sensitive company data


The main objective of most cyber attacks is to access and steal sensitive company data. Therefore, a good practice to protect yourself from supply chain attacks is to regularly audit this information to determine who has access to it, how and when they are accessing the data.

If the data is being accessed at odd times or being sent to an unknown endpoint, that’s a sign you have been compromised.



4.   Security automation to aid human experts


Neither humans nor AI can guarantee the complete protection of your infrastructure on their own. However, a well-implemented combination of the two will ensure prompt detection and response to cyberattacks.

For instance, a dedicated third-party risk management software will help your security team assess and rate the security standing of your vendors based on various metrics and also identify potential risks posed by the vendor to your organization by tracking their security performance over time.



5.   Have an incident response plan


While this method will not help prevent a supply chain attack, it’s critical in ensuring minimal damage if you suffer an attack. Getting caught unawares means delayed response and for every second you are compromised then that’s another second of lost business.

The incident response plan should cover all possible scenarios that could occur from an attack on the supply chain and also outline the remediation process for each incident.

Also, when deciding whether or not to work with a certain vendor, ensure that having a solid incident response plan is one of the requirements they have to have.



We can help reduce supply chain risk in your business

The outlined steps may look easy on paper but you will find them a lot harder to implement in practice unless you have the right skilled people. We are those people. Secure-target offers a pool of cybersecurity experts specializing in different forms of cyber attacks.

Our supply chain attack experts will analyze your suppliers to identify if you have a weak link among them that can be exploited. They will also help you come up with a security framework that you and your vendors can follow to minimize risk and ensure compliance with cybersecurity best practices.

Our job is to streamline the security aspect of your business so that you can focus on giving the best service to your customers.

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