Supply chains are a prime target of hackers, who continuously seek backdoor opportunities in firms and organizations that use the technology for their day-to-day operations. Supply chain attacks executed with malicious third-party components has increased more than 700% in the past three years, says a research report by software supply chain management company Sonatype.
For the uninitiated, a supply chain is the combined network of individuals, organizations, technologies, and resources employed in creating and selling a product.
It comprises everything from the manufacturer’s unit to the final consumer, where a product’s journey ends. Since many parties are involved in a supply chain, the threat actors use this opportunity to target them, which later disrupts the entire supply chain or causes great financial losses to companies and parties involved in the process.
Supply chain attacks have always been the top priority for most CIOs in cybersecurity. These attacks are initiated via backdoors with the intent to gain access to assets in multinational corporations. With thousands of vendors participating in one transaction, the threat actors are actively involved in gaining access to at least one of the components in the supply chain.
In the past five years, major corporations have been the target of supply chain hacks, and it continues to scale in numbers. To fight these hackers, companies must understand these top 10 supply chain vulnerabilities and address them promptly because such an attack could have serious operational, financial, and reputational repercussions.
List of the top 10 supply chain vulnerabilities
Cloud security is one of the latest concerns for cyber security professionals. Though the cloud offers a seamless experience for storing data and reducing the resource load significantly, it equally qualifies as a lucrative hacking target. Potential entry points for hackers include account hijacking, improper configuration, unlawful access, and vulnerable interfaces.
All the major IT service providers are now cloud compatible, further amplifying the need to protect assets stored in the cloud. There have been several incidents in the past few months where Cloud assets were exploited. The cloud will continue to influence how businesses run and present numerous security risks and issues.
Social media attacks are growing in number, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. From being a mere photo-sharing ecosystem in 2010 to being a full-fledged business, social media has come a long way and continues to evolve into a monetization platform for businesses, individuals, teams, artists, entrepreneurs, and SMEs.
Multiple data breaches have exposed social networking sites’ vulnerabilities, and users’ careless security practices have been credited to the breach of the most secure social media platforms. These platforms are slowly and steadily becoming the preferred victims of cyberattacks. Among the available social media platforms, Meta’s Facebook has always been the target of hackers. According to a 2022 report by DataProt, 53% of Facebook messages in “hacker groups are related to hijacking credit cards.”
Created initially as a file format for presenting documents PDF files can be used across different platforms, enabling attackers to mask malware behind the document. These files propagate an alluring phishing method because their plausible appearance tricks users better than the standard text-based email with a direct link to malicious websites.
Unlike many phishing scams like email fraud and SMS forwarding, PDF hacks frequently don’t ask you to click on a link to provide information. In particular, a potential victim might mistake malware for a bank statement PDF or something that usually doesn’t harm users. Since the probability of falling into a scam reduces on the users’ end, scammers exploit this opportunity and deploy the malware into the system by hiding/masking the malicious files behind the PDF icon.
In the modern world, data is considered gold, and who doesn’t want to get their hands on gold? Like corporations, who actively use data to deploy targeted marketing, hackers can also deploy malware and other malicious codes using the same methodology.
The recent data leaks from IRS, BidenCash, and Toyota are just a few examples of how data leaks can impact an organization. The data leak has several serious drawbacks — sometimes breaking the entire corporation and the privacy laws for end consumers.
According to online sources, data leaks can be performed via deploying malware into the systems and using social engineering tactics to steal login credentials.
One of the main reasons for data breaches is employee error. Hackers will always target organizations, and human mistakes allow these hackers to access the inventory and resources of a company. Careless staff members’ activities may result in numerous distinct infractions of legal requirements.
In a cybersecurity context, human error means unintentional actions – or lack of action – by employees and users that cause, spread or allow a security breach to occur. Some of the most famous human error that becomes the critical point in a data breach includes employing weak passwords, carelessness handling of data, inadequate software security protocols, lack of cyber security awareness, and ineffective data access management.
SMS remains a vital point in supply chain attacks because One Time Passwords (OTP) still rely on phone messages. Many eCommerce brands use SMS to inform customers about their orders. However, hackers also use SMS to launch phishing campaigns. In a standard SMS phishing attack, the threat actor first sends a text message to a user.
The message body usually contains a link to a fraudulent message. Once the user clicks on that link, they are immediately redirected to malicious websites that often mimic a reputed website to lure the victims. However, these hackers are not limited to targeting the end consumer because there have been cases where these hackers targeted manufacturers and suppliers directly.
According to sources, the Internet of Things (IoT) device market is expected to reach $1.1 trillion by 2026. These devices include everything from daily use to complex devices, such as smartphones, modems, smart watches, smart alarm clocks, smart watches, routers, and security systems employed by an organization.
Since IoT technology is so widely used — both in consumer products and organization devices, there are significant cybersecurity risks, particularly in the supply chain. IoT devices encounter 5,200 attacks on average per month, according to Symantec, and with IoT technology expanding almost exponentially, there is a vast attack surface for fraudsters to exploit.
No penetration testing
Penetration testing is one of the best methods to check a company or network’s security. By employing an authorized simulated attack, one can perform a penetration test (pen test) to assess its security and mitigations against actual attacks by hackers. To identify and illustrate the economic effects of a company’s vulnerabilities, penetration testers employ the same tools, strategies, and procedures as attackers.
A corporate’s network of systems needs to be able to reveal flaws to be as secure as possible. One of the best ways to identify potential weaknesses in a system is through a penetration test. This may apply to a local service, a cloud database, or any other type of technology. However, neglecting these tests can weaken the overall security of the entire organization, which can lead to a supply chain break.
Phishing is a popular method used by attacks to trick users into revealing information. The process is flexible in its approach, as hackers can use phishing emails, SMS, calls, push notifications, and other forms of contacting the victims.
In a standard phishing attack, hackers lure victims into clicking a link that downloads malware or takes them to a dubious website (usually via email or text). Sources claim that phishing attacks accounted for one out of every 4,200 emails sent last year and are expected to rise even more this year.
They account for more than 80% of reported security issues. One in every thirteen web requests, according to Symantec, results in a virus attack, while phishing attacks are thought to cost $17,700 each minute.
Ransomware attacks pose a serious risk to businesses with vast supply chains. Ransomware attacks are becoming more common in nations with high numbers of eCommerce companies that use most of the internet for their services.
According to Symantec, the US thus tops the list with 18.2% of all ransomware attacks. The average ransom in 2021 was $111,605 and is expected to grow ever larger. An analysis of the reported attacks shows that ransomware gang members usually target five key industries that use the supply chain for their operations: education (15%), municipalities (12%), healthcare (12%), infrastructure (8%), and finance (6%).