What Are Supply Chain Hacks (And Should You Get Prepared?) 

Whether you’re steering the ship of a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) or heading up a large corporation, your supply chain is a complex network of relationships that reaches far beyond your immediate operations. While today’s connectivity and modern technology offer fantastic opportunities for efficiency and convenience, it also presents a growing concern: the risk of supply chain hacks.  

In this blog post, we’ll explore what supply chain hacks are and why you should prepare for them. And, because we like to go the extra mile, we’ve even got a little bonus waiting for you – our very own 12-Point Security Checklist For Financial Planners to help give your cyber security a boost! 

What are supply chain hacks? 

Before we jump into the nitty gritty of how to prepare for supply chain hacks, let’s take a minute to understand exactly what they are. Supply chain hacks are a form of cyberattack that target vulnerabilities within a company’s supply chain infrastructure.  

Now, why is this a big deal? Well, these attacks can throw a serious wrench into the smooth flow of goods and services. They’re not just causing a little chaos; they can have a massively detrimental effect that creates a chain reaction to all the businesses involved. We’re talking compromised sensitive data, waving goodbye to your hard-earned cash, and a knock to your reputation amongst other things. 

Why are smaller companies’ prime targets? 

Hackers are well aware that smaller companies within the supply chain often have less robust cybersecurity measures in place. These small to medium-sized enterprises might not boast the same level of resources or expertise as their larger counterparts, which makes them appealing targets for individuals with malicious intent. Once these cybercriminals successfully breach the security defences of an SME, they gain access to a wealth of information, including sensitive emails, important files, and even login credentials. 

This access to SMEs serves as a launching pad for hackers looking to infiltrate larger companies further up the supply chain too. By exploiting the vulnerabilities of these smaller entities, cybercriminals can manoeuvre laterally within the supply chain, getting closer too bigger targets. It’s a strategic manoeuvre that highlights the significance of securing even the smallest links in the supply chain. 

What are the main routes for a hacker through a supply chain? 

Hackers can target supply chains in several different ways, however, two key methods are: 

Social engineering via email 

Social engineering involves manipulating individuals into revealing confidential information or performing actions that compromise security and is usually done via email. Hackers often employ tactics such as impersonating trusted contacts, crafting convincing phishing emails, or exploiting psychological triggers to trick recipients into taking the desired action.  

So, how do you thwart these cybercriminals? Well, aside from having the expected cyber security measures in place, it’s all about making sure everyone in your organisation takes part in regular training and awareness programmes. Humans are your first line of defence and technology is only as good as the people using it, so training will help them to spot dodgy emails and teach them how to respond correctly. 

Phishing attacks  

Phishing attacks are a subset of social engineering tactics, and they deserve a closer look because they’re pretty common. Phishing is essentially the art of using deceptive emails, websites, or messages to dupe people into sharing sensitive stuff like login details or financial information.  

When it comes to phishing attacks, there are two main forms: 

Malicious attachments 
Think of this like a digital booby trap. Hackers send emails with hidden surprises – malware or ransomware tucked away in attachments. Open one of those, and suddenly, your system’s under attack. It can lead to data breaches or even total system shutdowns. 

Stealing usernames and passwords 
This one’s a bit craftier. Hackers pretend to be someone you trust, like a bank, a government agency, or even a colleague from the supply chain to trick you into giving up sensitive data. 

To protect yourself against these phishing, it’s vital to beef up your defences. That means having robust email filters to catch the dodgy stuff, educating your team about phishing risks, and encouraging a healthy dose of scepticism when they encounter unexpected emails or requests for sensitive information. Make sure they understand it’s better to ask and double check than to just action something they’re not completely certain about. 

How can you prepare for and prevent supply chain hacks? 

As you may have guessed – yes, you should be prepared for supply chain hacks! So, how do you do this?  

It’s becoming increasingly clear that cybersecurity must be a top priority for all businesses, regardless of their size or industry. While large corporations have traditionally been at the forefront of implementing cybersecurity measures, SMEs are now recognising the importance of standard security processes. 

If your SME is involved in supply chain activities or tenders for work with larger companies, you may find yourself being asked for evidence of compliance with cybersecurity standards such as Cyber Essentials. These requests are not merely annoying hurdles; they are an indication of the evolving expectations regarding supply chain security. 

By proactively adopting cyber security measures and best practices, SMEs can not only enhance their own security but also contribute to the overall resilience of the supply chain. In doing so, you’ll not only protect your organisation but also gain a competitive advantage in a market where security is becoming an increasingly critical factor. 

Need some extra help with your cyber security or IT solutions? Talk to our friendly team today to find out how we can help your business.