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3 steps to reduce your risk of SCA

Supply chain attacks give hackers the ability to do a lot of damage with a single breach (photo: CC0 Public Domain)

The media corporation BBC, the airline British Airways and many other organizations, including several universities, have been hacked through a supply chain attack (SCA). The breach is the work of the Clop ransomware group. While the fight against hackers is ongoing, cybersecurity experts recommend three important steps to reduce the risk of this type of attack.

In an announcement posted on the dark web, ransomware group Clop warned affected organizations to contact the hacking gang by June 14 to agree on the ransom – or the stolen data of thousands of users would become public knowledge. The compromised data is believed to contain large volumes of personal information, including names, bank details, addresses and social security numbers.

Among those affected by this security incident are UK payroll management service provider Zellis, the University of Manchester, as well as some North American organizations such as the University of Rochester and the Government of Nova Scotia in Canada.

Zellis is perhaps the most promising victim of the hacking attack. Zellis’ clients include companies such as Jaguar Land Rover, Harrods and Dyson. The affected company assured its customers that the breach did not affect other critical components of their IT ecosystem.

“We can confirm that a small number of our customers have been affected by this global issue and we are actively working to support them. All Zellis-owned software is unaffected and there are no related incidents or compromises to any other part of our IT,” Zellis noted in a statement.

“We have been informed that we are one of the companies affected by the Zellis cyber security incident which occurred through one of their third party providers called MOVEit,” British Airways told the media.

SCA successful

Clop took advantage of an SQL injection vulnerability in the popular business software MOVEit, which effectively gave her access to its servers. MOVEit software is designed to securely move sensitive files. It is popular all over the world, with most of its customers being in the US and Europe.

Last week, the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned that hackers had discovered a vulnerability in the MOVEit Transfer tool and urged users around the world to look for ways to protect their sensitive information against a possible supply chain attack.

Who are Clop

The Clop group is said to be Russian and the author of many breaches targeting leading business structures around the world. In February 2023, the gang claimed responsibility for a supply chain attack that affected more than 130 organizations worldwide.

The group also had a hand in the Accellion File Transfer Appliance breach in 2020, which affected around 100 organisations, including Shell, Kroger and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. In another major attack, the group claimed responsibility for publishing sensitive patient medical records of Britain’s NHS healthcare system on the dark web after the NHS refused to give in to a £3 million ransom demand.

Growth of SCA

In recent years, supply chain attacks have become a growing concern in the cybersecurity world. SCAs are particularly attractive to cybercriminals because they offer the ability to inflict multiple damages with a single breach.

In a recent report on the issue, Statista noted that globally, the number of software packages affected by SCA rose significantly between 2019 and 2022, increasing from 702 to 185,572. Additionally, from January to March 2023. supply chain cyberattacks affected about 17,150 software packages.

Given the rising rate of SCAs, cybersecurity experts advise organizations to adopt best practices to stay safe.

Three helpful steps for prevention

Methods to prevent SCA are many and complex, but here are three tips that experts most often give.

  • Zero Trust Architecture

A zero-trust architecture operates on the assumption that all network activity is potentially malicious. The approach means that each connection request must comply with a set of strict policies before access to any of the organization’s resources is granted.

  • Honey traps

Honeycombs serve as detection mechanisms that notify organizations of suspicious activity on their network. These resources mimic valuable data, tricking attackers into believing they have access to valuable assets.

Honey traps can be in the form of fake data, email addresses and executable files. When attackers interact with these resources—which are essentially decoys—an alert is triggered, notifying the organization of the breach attempt.

  • Regular third country risk assessments

Sometimes third-party software vendors don’t take cybersecurity seriously enough. This can be a hazard and should be taken into account.

It is a good idea for any organization to ensure that its partners are using software from vendors that have been vetted. This kind of review should be embedded in overall cyber security plans and part of security and compliance assurance schemes.

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