Cyber threats to the supply chain have become a significant concern as businesses and organizations increasingly rely on interconnected digital systems for various aspects of their operations. These threats can have serious consequences, ranging from data breaches and financial losses to disruptions in the production and distribution of goods and services.
Do you know who you do business with? A question with a seemingly obvious answer. But let me rephrase. Do you really know who you do business with? Who has access to your sensitive information? Who is sharing your sensitive information? Is that information being shared with other suppliers? Don’t know the answer? Don’t worry. You’re not alone in supply chain cyber threats.
According to a survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute, it was found that only 35% of companies had a list of all the third parties they were sharing sensitive information with. And only 18% of companies knew if those vendors were, in turn, sharing that information with other suppliers.
You may be wondering what the necessity in knowing this information is. Well, the same survey found that 56% of organizations had a breach that was caused by one of their vendors. If you’re going to screw up, at least let it be on your part and not on that of an external party.
To be blunt, these figures are pretty pathetic. Especially since the average number of third parties with access to sensitive information at each organization has increased from 378 to 471. This increase comes following the widespread acceptance of globalization, making it harder to be certain of the integrity of an organization’s hardware supply chain. Let’s be real, almost every company uses outside hardware. As much as we might like to think we can do everything, nobody builds all their technology from scratch anymore. As such, we depend on our supply chain, meaning there might be multiple phases our hardware goes through before eventually reaching us.
Supply Chain Cyber Threats
Cybercriminals are turning towards hardware attack tools to carry out their malicious activity. The appeal of rogue devices comes from their covert characteristics and harmful nature. Specifically, Spoofed Peripherals impersonate legitimate HIDs and are therefore not recognized as malicious (hacked device). Network Implants, on the other hand, operate on the physical layer which is not covered by existing security software solutions. Moreover, their presence goes undetected. Additionally, rogue devices have various capabilities that facilitate harmful cyberattacks, making them a worthy asset for bad actors (social engineering of cyberattacks).
Supply Chain Risks – Vendor and Third-Party Organization
What’s worse is that, following the world economic crisis, budget cuts were made for manufacturing and security validation leading to the decline in use of authorized re-sellers. As a result, orders today are coming from manufacturers in the Far East as the prices are lower. All these various layers leave plenty of time for that hardware to be compromised; maliciously or ignorantly. Every vendor and third-party organization your company interacts with is a security risk as they have people who are outside of your direct scope of policy control. So it’s probably best you know who you’re dealing with. But one criminal is hard to spot in a company employing hundreds, if not thousands, of employees… So it’s probably better to implement some mitigation solutions.
“We worry about manipulation, we worry about espionage, both nation state and industrial level, and we worry about disruption.” – Edna Conway, Chief Security Officer for the global value chain at Cisco Systems, Inc.
Hardware with embedded malware can enter your organization from a third-party supplier. That supplier may have a vicious employee looking to create damage, or one that has unknowingly allowed for this to happen. Either way, for the criminal the jackpot is to get an organization to use the malicious hardware to extract sensitive data. Ultimately, we need to make sure that not only do our third-party suppliers have sufficient risk management methods in place. However, as Eric Doerr emphasized, also ensure that the employees work thoroughly, and with the right intentions. So employing someone with a history of cyber crime is probably not someone you would want your supplier to higher.