By Datuk Alan See, Chief Executive Officer – FIRMUS

The growing threat of cyber-attacks has made businesses of all sizes vulnerable in today’s digital landscape. However, supply chains have emerged as a new frontier for cyber criminals. In fact, in 2022, supply chain attacks surpassed the number of malware-based attacks by 40%. Recent attacks like the Okta Hack, 3CX Supply Chain attack, and the GitHub OAuth tokens attack have illustrated the cascading effect a cyber-attack can have on other organizations in the supply chain.

Knowing Supply Chain Attacks

One reason why supply chains are attractive targets for cyber-attacks is their complexity and reliance on third-party suppliers. Attackers are always on the lookout for the weakest link in an organization’s security posture and often, this resides in a company’s interconnected supply chain. A business can have up to various number of suppliers, which often have access to sensitive data and systems, and a weak link creates a point of entry for cyber criminals.

A cyber-attack through a third-party software vendor or supplier via malicious code injection into the vendor’s software or supply chain can and will affect other organizations in the supply chain, increasing the risk and impact of the attack. The financial impact of a supply chain attack is monumental, regardless of the size of a business. Multiple factors contribute to the resulting cost such as breach investigation efforts, loss of business due to reputation damage, and regulatory fines.

What can we do about it?

To mitigate these risks, businesses need to identify their weakest link in an organization’s security posture. Often, this is a business’s interconnected supply chain.

One of the ways is through the implementation of solutions like BitSight or BlueVoyant to help businesses identify, monitor, and manage cyber risks in their supply chains that can provide real-time insights into the cybersecurity posture of suppliers, allowing businesses to proactively manage potential risks. It is also an add for businesses to perform risk benchmarking, which allows comparison of their security performance of their suppliers against industry peers.

By using a specialized platform, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of not just 3rd party but also 4th party risks associated with their supply chains, thus be proactive instead of reactive in stopping cyber-attack risks from entering the supply chain. This can include conducting more comprehensive risk assessments, implementing stronger access controls and authentication mechanisms, and improving overall supply chain security posture.

In conclusion, protecting businesses from cyber-attacks in supply chains requires a multi-faceted approach that involves understanding the risks and vulnerabilities of the supply chain, implementing strong access controls and authentication mechanisms, ultimately improving security posture. By taking proactive steps to protect themselves and their customers, organizations can better safeguard their supply chains and mitigate the impact of cyber-attacks.