What Are Software Supply Chain Cyber Attacks, And How Do They Work? Part 2

What Are Software Supply Chain Cyber Attacks, And How Do They Work? Part 2

Today, software supply chain attacks have become one of the emerging threats, targeting businesses via third-party software vendors and suppliers. 36% of companies interviewed in a survey by Statista expect an increase of 19% in software supply chain attacks in 2022

Attackers look for unsafe coding practices, unprotected servers, and insecure network protocols to infect and hide malware in software’s build and update processes. These attacks can lead to hacks and data breaches within an organization, impacting businesses with severe consequences, including operational disruption, regulatory fines, and organizational chaos.  

In this article, we will highlight the steps to help organizations mitigate risks from software supply chain attacks.

5 Ways to Help Organizations Lower Risks of Software Supply Chain Attacks

In this era of technology, security is not optional. Organizations have to ensure security measures to operate their business effectively. The first thing is to identify your attack surface which means identification of software applications that might be exposing you and putting your business at risk. Other steps you can follow to ensure software supply chain security include.

Assess Open-Source Dependencies

Open-source code libraries are easier to infect as they are publicly accessible, and threat actors can insert malicious code into them. In 2021, there was a 650 percent increase in open source software (OSS) supply chain attacks year-over-year. 

It is necessary to assess your attack surface and possible threat vectors that can compromise open-source software to reduce OSS supply chain attacks. Several software composition analysis tools can also help you detect and mitigate risks.

Implement Zero-Trust Policies

Zero-trust Architecture (ZTA) aims to remove implicit trust from your system’s architecture to prevent security breaches. It entails verification at each access point instead of trusting users within your network. This framework is one of the effective solutions to limit the impact of supply chain attacks. It must be implemented by organizations as well as vendors to continuously monitor vulnerabilities throughout their network.

Assess Third-party Security Posture

Vendors don’t usually take cybersecurity seriously as you do, making organizations responsible to ensure supply chain security. For this, it is crucial to conduct third-party risk assessments to evaluate vendors’ security posture and monitor concerning network vulnerabilities that may need remediating.

Minimize Third-Party Access to Sensitive Data

Vendors having access to your sensitive data are a liability to your organization, as a data leak in their network can impact your data and resources. Identify all sensitive data access points and minimize vendor access to sensitive data to the minimal amount they need to offer their services.

Implement Honeytokens

Implementation of honeytokens can help organizations get alert whenever suspicious activity happens in their network. Honeytokens are fake resources that pose as sensitive data. When attackers try to interact with these resources, thinking them valuable, a signal is sent to the organization. These alerts provide advanced warnings to organizations about a data breach while detecting the breaching method.

How to Audit Software Patches and Updates From Software Providers?

Depending on the size and assets of an organization, the steps to audit software patches and updates may vary. However, the main point is that updates shouldn’t be installed right away after becoming available. Instead, organizations must ensure a patch management process to minimize cyber risks. Best practices to audit software patches include.

  • Whenever a software patch or update is available from a service provider, identify the security issues and software updates that are relevant to your requirements.
  • Replicate the production environment and run OSes virtually to test the software patch and validate that it will not result in any unexpected system behavior.
  • Use a common vulnerability scoring system (CVSS) to check the severity of security vulnerabilities that might be present in software products.
  • Run smoke tests to identify whether the main functions of the software work properly or not. Look for changes in the test environments, including program failures, disrupted services, changes in permissions, etc.
  • Use a patch management tool to manage the process more easily.

Final Words

With the increase in software supply chain attacks, it has become crucial for organizations to identify vulnerabilities and mitigate the risk of such attacks as much as possible. Also, third-party vendors must ensure security best practices during the software development life cycle (SDLC) to develop secure solutions. Security is not a one-man show and requires the effort of both organizations and vendors alike to minimize cyber threats.

By HackerStrike Inc.