Enterprise

How to protect your business from digital supply chain attacks

The digital supply chain is under attack like never before. Ranked among the top three security concerns for 2022 by Gartner, digital supply chain security is now a top priority for cybersecurity teams, CISOs, and the entire C-suite. For the first time, attacks of the digital supply chain are threatening the business continuity of large enterprises.

Why digital supply chain and why now?

Digital supply chains are connected to almost every critical service in an organization. All services accessible on the Internet rely on a multi-tiered ecosystem of third-party services and infrastructure. In turn, each tier has its own tier, which has its own tier, and so on. This means that vulnerabilities in your vendors and your vendors’ vendors (and so on) often become your
vulnerabilities.

There are several reasons why digital supply chains are particularly vulnerable today, including:

  • Digital supply chain attacks are worth the investment for hackers.
    Due to the nature of the digital supply chain, replicating a single exploit can create a very large network of attacks. This exponentially increases the potential gain from attacks and the return on investment from developing exploits.
  • Web application and service developers accelerate development with external code packages. These development paradigms come with their own inherent vulnerabilities, the dangers of which trickle down the digital supply chain.
  • Cloud service security often falls into a digital no-man’s land.
    SaaS or PaaS managed cloud services operate in a shared responsibility model. This creates a gray area between vendors, making it difficult for traditional cybersecurity solutions to identify if a third-party component has been tampered with.

Threat actors know that it’s easier to find and exploit a vulnerability somewhere deep in the digital supply chain, than to attack a business head-on. That’s why digital supply chains are now the fastest growing attack surface for most businesses: according to our estimates, 50-60% of all cyberattacks are perpetrated by third parties.

Action Items

To mitigate the risk of attack through digital supply chain vectors, organizations must adopt a proactive threat prevention strategy and remediate vulnerabilities before they become catastrophic flaws. Here is a list of how it breaks down and what needs to happen yesterday:

  • Automate asset discovery: You can’t protect what you can’t see, so proactively find out what’s out there. Find and map known, unknown, and orphaned external assets, including those introduced by shadow computing implementations. Consider the uncontrolled assets that form your digital supply chain, no matter how far downstream.
  • Assess vulnerability: Once you know what you have, you still need to understand which external assets (if any) are vulnerable, how they can be exploited, and the severity of the risk they present. Additionally, “track the connections” by performing a deep and in-depth connection-focused assessment – ​​uncovering how downstream assets are vulnerable and how that vulnerability can propagate through the digital supply chain and become a security risk .
  • Constantly monitor: What was certain yesterday may not be so tomorrow. Be sure to perform ongoing analysis to identify new assets in your external attack surface or supply chain (for example, a new third-party vendor or a change in third-party cloud storage providers). Next, reevaluate each third-party asset, external internet asset, and distributed cloud infrastructure. Carefully check for signs of digital supply chain misconfigurations and vulnerabilities.
  • Prioritize risks and plan corrective measures: What should your team mitigate first? Do you have an actionable and timely mitigation and remediation plan and workflow based on vulnerability prioritization for both your external attack surface and your digital supply chain?

It is important to apply these strategies not only to your directly accessible assets on the Internet, but also to key areas, including:

  • Cloud-based services: The keys to your castle are literally in the cloud. Their security is crucial for business continuity. Yet misconfigurations in the cloud are the leading cause of vulnerabilities. Create an end-to-end inventory of cloud resources from all cloud providers. Use this dynamic inventory as the basis for ongoing monitoring and risk management planning.
  • Subsidiaries : Digital assets that belong to your affiliates but are tied to your core business can pose a risk. It is important to assess and remedy this risk.
  • Mergers and Acquisitions : Even after mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures, networks may still contain connected assets. It is essential to control the risk signature of newly acquired or recently abandoned digital assets in the context of any merger, acquisition or divestiture.

The essential

Recent attacks have crystallized what hackers have understood for years: a breach anywhere along the digital supply chain can easily compromise your services, users, customers and brand reputation. To defeat digital supply chain attacks, companies must take a proactive approach to resolving vulnerabilities within their entire external attack surface — including third parties and beyond.