Organizations can use software supply chain security to detect, identify, assess, and mitigate risks associated with digital artifacts that enter their program from third-party sources such as open-source libraries, commercial software suppliers, or outsourced development. To identify supply chain risks and take actions to stop, reduce, or remediate them, a comprehensive supply chain security plan blends risk management, Software Supply Chain Security Management, and cybersecurity concepts.
A supply chain assault is an effort by Attack Vectors to infiltrate the software and cloud infrastructures of one or more enterprises. Attackers might make use of commercial trust between software providers and their clients, or they could take advantage of implicit trust among development communities.
An attacker may, for example, introduce malware into a software vendor’s update or contribute dangerous code to an open-source project. Users of these artifacts put their confidence in the software they’re using, integrate it into their projects and CI/CD pipelines, and unwittingly spread malware.
Recent supply chain hacks, such as the SolarWinds and Kaseya breaches, allowed attackers to compromise a significant number of high-profile companies with a single coordinated effort. They did so by exploiting vulnerabilities in trusted IT management software and Software supply chain security management practices like SolarWinds and Kaseya that had been installed by clients, circumventing current security protections.
Vulnerabilities in the Physical and Software Supply Chain
Various characteristics distinguish physical and software supply networks. The software supply chain is the topic of this essay and this area of research also deals with Attack Surface Management.
Physical Supply Chain
All physical materials and procedures required to make a final, physical product that is delivered to a point of purchase are included in an analog or physical supply chain. A vendor or supplier often uses these materials, production, and transportation procedures before transferring them to a final retailer for value-added finishing or sale to an end-user.
Software Supply Chain
So the basic question is what is Software Supply Chain Security
The bulk of current software projects now uses pre-built components, which are either open source, offered by third-party software vendors, produced as proprietary bespoke code, or consumed via external APIs.
What is the Process of a Software Supply Chain Security Attack?
A software supply chain assault takes advantage of trust between companies. Any company that employs third-party software, collaborates with a software vendor, or outsourced development builds a level of confidence with a third party. As a result, this party is a component of the software supply chain because of an unsecured trusted vendor, supply chain attacks can succeed even if a company has put in place effective cybersecurity protections. After breaching a vendor’s network or codebase, attackers can use that chain of trust to pivot to other networks and attack surfaces downstream.
Managed service providers (MSPs) frequently create deep linkages with their clients’ networks and cloud environments; they are prominent targets of digital supply chain assaults. MSPs give attackers far more access to networks and environments that would be difficult to target directly otherwise. For example, Kaseya attackers used this strategy to infect a large number of organizations with ransomware.
Malware may be sent to clients through software supply chain assaults. Attack Vectors gained access to the company’s development servers and injected a backdoor into updates to the SolarWinds Orion network monitoring software during the SolarWinds hack, for example. Attackers got access to client networks once the revised code was sent to SolarWinds customers.
Recent Attacks on Supply Chains
Several large-scale Software Supply Chain Assaults have been reported in recent years, here is the list of them.
SolarWinds is an IT company with a long list of high-profile clients, including the US government, Cisco, VMware, and Intel. In 2020, attackers were successful in injecting malware into Orion, a SolarWinds IT resource with Software Supply Chain Security Management.
The virus was introduced to a standard update of the program signed by a SolarWinds certificate after attackers compromised the SolarWinds build process. Hundreds of SolarWinds customers received this upgrade, providing attackers unfettered access to those companies’ infrastructure. The attack started in March 2020, but it wasn’t discovered and disclosed until December.
In April 2021, the software auditing application Codecov was hacked, allowing attackers to get access to the networks of numerous CodeCov users. The assault began earlier this year when hackers gained access to an uploader script that sends client code coverage information back to CodeCov servers. The exploited script provided an easy mechanism for attackers to obtain credentials saved in client code and exfiltrate the data.
REvil is not a Typo here
Thousands of companies use Kaseya as a network monitoring system. REvil, a high-profile ransomware outfit, implanted its malware into a Kaseya Virtual System Administrator update (VSA). Customers who installed this update were infected with the REvil ransomware, also known as Sodinokibi, and were unable to access their data.
According to Kaseya, the ransomware may have affected up to 15,000 businesses. Following the attack, a Swedish retailer’s IT systems were rendered useless, forcing it to close 800 outlets.
if you want to learn more from the secret sprawl report from GitGuardian.
Why Are Supply Chain Attacks Increasingly Common?
For cyber attackers, several elements make software supply chain assaults particularly appealing.
Because of their economies of scale, supply chain assaults are becoming increasingly prevalent. Attack campaigns are often run as for-profit businesses, with low operational expenses and a high return on investment (ROI).
Attack Vectors may establish a cyber operation that targets a single firm, acquires an initial footing, and then hacks hundreds or thousands of more organizations with little extra work via software supply chain assaults.
These activities are frequently supported by automation, which allows attack vectors to penetrate several companies at once, speeds up the assault, and reduces the likelihood of human intervention. Furthermore, as long as the activity is unknown, a supply chain can continue to benefit assaults.
Attack with High Accessibility: Attack Vectors targeting the software supply chain are coming up with more inventive ways to attack. These attacks frequently infiltrate a weak target with lax security or exploit vulnerable permissions or misconfigurations in cloud settings. The attackers then covertly install malware on these computers.
If the target organization lacks effective runtime security measures, attacks can instantiate and grow with a lower risk of detection. This increases the risk of spreading to consumers, vendors, or partners of the impacted firm. There are additional ports of entry into the software supply chain as more stakeholders participate. Each of them is an opportunity to launch a new offensive phase.
Because of the complexity and quantity of businesses and systems involved, highly evasive software supply chain assaults can be difficult to detect. When employed as a security precaution, many supply chain hacks incorporate a backdoor to legitimate software as a manner of abusing trust. Because genuine software is trusted, it receives less scrutiny, and possibly harmful activities coming from within that program might go unnoticed.
Supply chain assaults are frequently undetected by traditional cybersecurity safeguards. These tools were created to identify flaws in bespoke code as well as vulnerable open-source vulnerabilities. Because of the structure of the software supply chain, businesses frequently lack access to the source code or build artifacts required to undertake application security testing, and hence are constrained in their capabilities to detect Vulnerability.
Finally, complex malware and evasion methods are commonly used in software supply chain assaults to “shift form” and avoid leaving a trail of evidence. No consistent patterns of harmful behavior may exist. However, when examined together, seemingly unconnected supply chain artifacts might add up to penetration, data exfiltration, and package drops.
In single or multi-cloud settings, many enterprises leverage cloud-native technologies including containerized apps, serverless services, and infrastructure-as-code (IaC) templates. For the following reasons, these designs are suitable targets for supply chain attacks:
- Open source and other libraries are frequently sourced from public registries and repositories by cloud-native apps. Attackers can pose a threat to such libraries in a variety of methods, including impersonating contributors to insert vulnerabilities or typosquatting.
- Both production and development environments for cloud-native apps are often hosted in public or private clouds. These settings frequently have different configurations and security policies. In a development environment, a program that cannot be exploited in production may be exploitable, and malicious modifications can then be pushed into production.
- Short development cycles, frequent releases, broad integration, and automated procedures are all hallmarks of cloud-native development approaches. Traditional security technologies can’t keep up with the speed of code delivery deadlines, and they frequently don’t produce results quickly enough to allow for adequate remediation. As a result, potentially dangerous and untested objects are pushed into production.
- Cloud-native apps are designed to grow quickly. This increases the scalability of supply chain assaults and allows malicious software to access cloud resources at scale by exploiting permissions. Additional attacks, such as crypto mining or large-scale network communication, are then possible.
What Effect Does a Supply Chain Attack Have?
Supply chain assaults may have a significant impact on a whole company.
A supply chain attack can have a huge impact on one or several companies. Depending on the nature of the assault, any company involved in the supply chain might incur direct or indirect financial consequences.
The expense of incident response and forensic investigations, as well as company disruptions, lost income, and reputational damage, are all possible damages.
Violations of Compliance
A supply chain assault can force companies to break rules or industry norms, which can lead to penalties or more audits. Following an audit, repair measures for any discovered flaws might result in significant extra expenditures.
6 Best Practices for Supply Chain Security
Apply the following steps to reduce the risks connected with third parties and to prevent supply chain assaults.
Examine your supply chain.
Against software supply chain threats, removing trust is a crucial security measure. In addition to maintaining security best practices for the software, your developers build and consume, look into the cybersecurity procedures of software suppliers and third-party contributors.
Do not provide third-party vendors access to your network unless you have thoroughly investigated their security standards. Examine their security risk posture, governance policies, compliance procedures, and technological security measures.
This can help you develop a better understanding of supply chain risks and put in place the systems and controls needed to identify, respond to, or prevent supply chain assaults.
Determine the attack vectors
You must understand how attack vectors might penetrate your firm to reduce risks. This kind of data can assist in the incident response process. Improved developer security education, mitigation, and remediation methods, and security testing procedures may all benefit from a greater awareness of the threat environment.
Be aware of the limits of any security tool or practice at your disposal, and make sure you plan to identify and respond to every potential attack vector.
Conduct regular audits
Audit your network and surroundings regularly, noting who has access to critical data or cloud resources. This will assist you in evaluating your relationships with suppliers and determining what data and systems are shared. If an attack is identified, this will aid future forensics investigations by simplifying cleanup and assisting in identifying the attack kill chain.
You should also conduct frequent audits of your third-party providers’ activities. This can assist guarantee that all parties adhere to the right security rules, decreasing your vulnerability to other people’s security flaws.
Monitor and examine all interactions between your company and third-party vendors regularly. This can aid in the detection of suspicious or unusual behavior that could suggest a supply chain attack.
Remember that unusual or malevolent behavior isn’t necessarily the result of a third party with whom you collaborate. They might be the target of a cyber-attack, putting your firm at risk. To make it simpler to discover abnormalities, log actions on network devices and endpoints. This data is necessary for recognizing and mitigating dangers as well as responding to key occurrences.
Make an incident response strategy.
Prepare an incident response strategy in advance of an assault. Any supporting policies, strategies, or processes should be context-specific, and risk-based, and take into consideration any regulatory reporting obligations.
Your third-party provider should also have an incident response strategy in place so that they can respond promptly to attacks and reduce any possible danger to your company. Ascertain that any data collected by security tools and procedures is automatically given to those who need to act, whether inside or outside your organize
Organize awareness training.
Employees must understand how software supply chain assaults might take place and what role they have in detecting, resolving, and preventing risks. Employees should be educated on all areas of cybersecurity, including password security, social engineering attack methodologies, secure code, testing processes, and business rules, during security awareness training. Employees that have a better grasp of risks are better able to prevent attacks, respond promptly to active assaults, and secure the organization’s essential systems and sensitive data.
Thus strategizing the Code and Updating policies with secure strategies is also a very crucial decision that software Architects need to take while designing the system architecture as the System keeps evolving let’s say we need to update the software in a smartwatch, it is a fancy device today that has IEEE standard Radio Attached to it and anybody can crack the code and try accessing the system it’s still a Radio but today it’s software-defined in terms of the functionality and if anybody can find a way to crack the loophole then anybody can change how these technologies work.
Today the updates on smart wearables happen Via Bluetooth. Your phone app has version information, whenever a new release is updated it will be notified in our app on the phone, you can verify the version and update it on the device.
This is just a simple explanation that I can share with you today. Thanks to Vivek Sridhar for explaining it to me in simple language.
You can think this can be the secure way in updating the Smart Devices but what if you have not secured the radio which downloads the body of the update can control the radio and stop the patch from being updated to your phone or else a hacker can enter into the device and can collectively access different information on device and the data from the device on the cloud if the security of the device is not having 2-factor authentication.
Thus I feel while architecting a solution on the Edge, security for the Software layers must be the highest priority.
Some Resources that I refer to:
- You can read the NIST report – this NIST report says on the topic of Security Analysis of the First Responder Mobile and Wearable Devices.
- Apple Security Update Closes Spyware Flaw in iPhones, Macs, and iWatches – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
- Assessing Threats to Mobile Devices & Infrastructure: the Mobile Threat Catalogue (nist.gov)
- Apple patches “FORCEDENTRY” zero-day exploited by Pegasus spyware | Ars Technica
- Firmware-Update-Attacks-and-Security-for-IoT-Devices-Survey.pdf (desc.gov.ae)
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