What Can SMBs Do to Prevent Supply Chain Attacks?

businesswoman using laptop at workplace working to avoid cyber attacks

In 2021, a researcher named Alex Birsan demonstrated just how easy it is for hackers to perform a supply chain attack in what he called the Dependency Confusion. The researcher breached major companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Uber, and Tesla by taking advantage of dependencies (software that relies on other software) that applications use to provide service to end-users.

Through the dependencies, Birsan was able to transmit safe counterfeit data packets to high-profile users.

While the Dependency Confusion was simply an experiment, it showed the dangers that can occur to any business no matter its size. In fact, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) may be even more vulnerable to these types of attacks because they often lack the resources and expertise to properly secure their systems.

What is a Supply Chain Attack?

A supply chain attack is a type of cyberattack in which the cybercriminal targets a company’s suppliers or other third-party vendors in order to gain access to the company’s systems and data.

These attacks are often highly sophisticated and can be difficult to detect, as they usually involve the compromising of multiple different systems and components.

How Supply Chain Attacks are Carried Out

Attackers can carry out supply chain attacks by these most common methods.

  • Compromising a supplier’s system or networks in order to gain access to the company’s data.
  • Inserting malicious code or malware into a software update or other product that is then distributed to all the users.
  • Tampering with hardware components such as routers or servers before they are shipped to the company.
  • Attacking a company’s internal systems through a supplier’s or vendor’s account.

Supply chain attacks can have serious consequences for the companies that are targeted.

In some cases, such attacks can lead to the loss of sensitive data or the compromise of critical systems. In other cases, they can result in financial losses and damage to the company’s reputation.

What Can SMBs Do to Prevent These Attacks Or Avoid Them?

There are a number of steps that small and medium businesses (SMBs) can take to protect themselves from attacks, including:

1) Partnering with an IT Provider

An IT provider can help SMBs to implement strong security measures and keep systems up-to-date.

2) Vetting Third-Party Vendors

SMBs should carefully vet all third-party vendors before doing business with them. This includes checking references and verifying that the vendor has appropriate security measures in place.

3) Implementing Strong Authentication and Access Controls

Implementing strong authentication, like two-factor authentication, and access controls for all systems and networks is crucial.

4) Encrypting All Sensitive Data

Encrypt all sensitive data, including customer information, financial data, and proprietary information.

5) Using Only Trusted Software and Hardware Components

Use only trusted software and hardware components from reputable vendors.

6) Keeping All Software Up to Date with the Latest Security Patches

Keep all software up to date with the latest security patches, such as operating system updates and application updates.

7) Monitoring Systems and Networks for Unusual Activity

Monitor your systems and networks for unusual activity which can include things like unexpected network traffic or unusual user activity.

8) Training Employees on Security Best Practices

Train your employees on security best practices, such as how to spot phishing emails and how to keep their passwords safe.

By taking these steps, SMBs can help to reduce the risk of supply chain attacks and their potential consequences.

How Can an IT Provider that Specializes in Cybersecurity Help?

If you’re an SMB looking for help with cybersecurity, partner with an IT provider that specializes in cybersecurity. At Tech Rockstars, we can help you to implement strong security measures and keep your systems up-to-date and protect your business from supply chain attacks.

Contact us today to learn more about our cybersecurity services for SMBs.