Many businesses and organisations are run with supply chains as an integral component of their company. Most organisations find themselves reliant on other organisations to provide services, and in many cases, supply chains can be large, involving many suppliers. Therefore, the supply chain itself is a cyber security risk, as these providers in the chain may not be secure. Where vulnerabilities are found within a company that provides for other companies, it risks the rest of the supply chain being affected too. So, a supply chain attack is when cyber criminals are able to gain access to systems and data through a third-party which is a part of a supply chain.
Any company producing software or hardware for other companies may find themselves the target of these attacks, even including security software providers. Supply chain attacks are especially useful to cyber criminals, because if they are able to penetrate a third party, all of the businesses which use this third party will be vulnerable, leading to the possibility of acquiring maximum data and access. With increasing reliance on outside providers for various aspects of business, organisations are more vulnerable to supply chain attacks than ever before.
Any vendor could be susceptible to compromise, and acknowledging this is key for organisations to be able to adequately protect themselves. If nation state attackers are involved, even the seemingly most secure companies may find themselves at risk due to their high level of expertise and resources. Despite this, very few organisations reinforce minimum standards of cyber security for their suppliers. Where groups do not know the security measures that their vendors have set in place, they are unable to be fully secure. Some regulations are in place for supply chains in fields such as finance and healthcare, but this is certainly not general practice for every organisation. Although supply chain attacks are much less likely to compromise a company than attacks taking advantage of direct vulnerabilities, companies should begin to implement regulatory practices for their vendors to ensure their information is much more safe.