What Are Software Supply Chain Cyber Attacks, And How Do They Work? Part 1

What Are Software Supply Chain Cyber Attacks, And How Do They Work? Part 1

From the biggest companies to freight deliveries, recent headlines have seen a lot of mention of “supply chain attacks.”

Software Supply chain attacks are one of the most frustrating things you can deal with. According to a recent study, supply chain threats are on the rise. The supply chain problems brought on by the pandemic were made worse, according to the recently issued X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2022. A recent Venafi poll found that 82% of participants believe their firms are susceptible to cyberattacks that target software supply chains. 

Not only are you on a tight timeline to resolve the attack, but it’s also fairly difficult to identify which vendor is responsible for the breach in the first place.

But what exactly are these supply chain attacks? Let’s talk about it.

What are Software Supply Chain Cyber Attacks?

Software supply chain cyber attacks are one of the most dangerous threats to your business. These attacks take place when malicious software is injected into a legitimate software application during development. These can occur at any point in the development process_ before, during, or after the application has been coded and tested.

Software supply chain attacks aim to infect computers with malware or other malicious code that can be used for cyber espionage purposes, data theft, ransomware distribution, and more.

How do Software Supply Chain Cyber Attacks Work?

A software supply chain attack only needs one compromised software or application to deliver malicious code across the entire supply chain. For instance, a key logger placed on a USB drive can compromise a large retail business. It then logs the keystroke to detect passwords of specified user accounts. Criminals can gain access to sensitive business information, financial data, customer records, and more.

Basically, the goal of software supply chain attack is to get an undetectable piece of code into the company’s software and then wait for it to be downloaded by millions or billions of people worldwide. Once this happens, the malware can take over their computers and steal data from them without their knowledge — or even use their computers as servers to launch attacks against other targets. These tactics make it harder for antivirus programs to detect and remove the malware because they can’t know what files are infected until users download them.

Software Supply Chain Cyber Attacks Examples

The software supply chain is becoming a hot spot for cyber attacks. In addition to the traditional malware threats, data breaches, and ransomware, companies are increasingly facing attacks that target vulnerabilities in their software development and distributed process.

Here are some examples of software supply chain cyber attacks:


Twilio users became the victims of a software supply chain attack. After tricking employees into providing their corporate login credentials and two-factor codes from SMS phishing messages that claimed to come from Twilio’s IT department, hackers recently breached Twilio’s network. They gained access to the data of 125 Twilio customers and businesses, including the end-to-end encrypted messaging app Signal. 

TechCrunch discovered phishing URLs at the time that were posing as other businesses, including a U.S. internet provider, an IT outsourcing firm, and a customer support provider. Still, the scope of the effort was not immediately obvious.


SolarWinds, a network monitoring company, was also hacked. To install a backdoor and update the code in the firm’s Orion product, the SolarWinds attackers used network access to the company and lax internal security procedures. One of the US’s biggest private and public organizations uses Orion as a network monitoring tool. Orion could see the traffic moving over these networks, giving the attackers access to emails and other private data.The most significant cyberattack of 2020 was SolarWinds. The attack affected an estimated 18,000 organizations, including public companies and US government agencies. According to estimates, each impacted organization will have to pay $12 million due to the attack.


Over 1,000 businesses were affected by the recent supply chain attack on Kaseya VSA, patch management and monitoring platform used by MSPs; the attackers demanded $50 million.

The attacker was able to distribute malicious updates to the systems of MSP client customers by using a VSA server in an MSP’s network. Due to this, devices acquired the REvil ransomware. The folders of Kaseya VSA agents are not subject to antivirus scanning. Hence the malware could be installed and run rampant. This illustrates the severe harm of distributing ransomware through a software supply chain attack.


Software supply chain attacks have become a critical issue for businesses as these are hard to detect. Software supply chain attacks are a serious threat to any company that uses third-party software. Therefore, organizations need to assess the vendor they use and mitigate the supply chain risks that make them vulnerable. It requires implementing effective preventive measures and detection technologies to stay ahead of cybercriminals.

By HackerStrike Inc.