The Growing Significance of Supply Chain Attacks

Hayden Kirk

March 30, 2023

As technology continues to advance and organisations become more interconnected, the risks associated with cyber-attacks are on the rise. One type of cyber-attack that has gained significant attention in over the last 12 months, and more so this week with the VoIP phone provider, 3CX becoming the latest victim, is the supply chain attack.

Understanding Supply Chain Attacks

Supply chain attacks, also known as third-party or value-chain attacks, occur when cybercriminals target an organisation by compromising one of its suppliers or vendors. This method is becoming increasingly popular as attackers exploit the weak links in a company’s supply chain to gain unauthorised access to valuable data, intellectual property, or sensitive systems.

The Significance of Supply Chain Attacks

  1. Increased attack surface: As organisations integrate new software, hardware, and services from various vendors, the potential points of vulnerability increase. This expanded attack surface provides cybercriminals with multiple entry points to exploit, making supply chain attacks a serious threat.
  2. High-profile incidents: Notable supply chain attacks, such as the SolarWinds, Kaseya, and more recently, the 3CX Desktop Application incidents, have garnered significant media attention and heightened awareness of the potential consequences of these types of attacks. In the 3CX case, hackers compromised the popular business communications software by injecting malicious code into the application, potentially exposing sensitive customer data.
  3. Damage to reputation and trust: When an organisation falls victim to a supply chain attack, the repercussions can extend beyond financial loss and data breaches. The negative impact on an organisation’s reputation and the erosion of trust between customers, partners, and suppliers can have long-lasting effects on a company’s business relationships.
  4. Legal and regulatory implications: Supply chain attacks can lead to legal and regulatory repercussions, as organisations may be held liable for failing to protect sensitive customer data. This can result in fines, lawsuits, and increased scrutiny from regulatory authorities.

Essential Protections to Safeguard Against Supply Chain Attacks

  1. Vendor risk assessment: Conduct thorough due diligence on all vendors and suppliers before establishing a relationship. Assess their cybersecurity posture, security certifications, and track record. Regularly review and update these assessments to ensure ongoing compliance. Layer3 undergo external security, process and policy auditing annually with results shared with our customers.
  2. Network segmentation: Isolate critical systems and sensitive data from other parts of the network. Implement strict access controls and monitoring to prevent unauthorised access to crucial information and systems.
  3. Multi-factor authentication (MFA): Implement MFA for all users, especially those with access to critical systems and data. This adds an extra layer of protection against unauthorised access, even if an attacker manages to obtain a user’s credentials.
  4. Security controls: Organisations should implement robust security controls, such as access controls, encryption, and intrusion detection systems. These controls should be regularly reviewed and tested to ensure that they are functioning correctly.
  5. The right security toolset: Gone are the days of simple antivirus on your devices to protect against threats. A layered approach is needed, from network, device and the humans behind the screens. This involves investing in a managed firewall solution, which can analyse traffic, or SASE. For device security, beyond having a comprehensive antivirus with EDR features, also leveraging threat hunting, as well as security training for your staff. These tools need to be carefully implemented and managed.
  6. Incident response plan: Develop a comprehensive incident response plan to address potential supply chain attacks. Ensure that all relevant stakeholders are aware of their roles and responsibilities, and regularly update and test the plan to ensure its effectiveness.
  7. Security awareness training: Educate employees about the risks associated with supply chain attacks and the importance of cybersecurity best practices. Regular training and awareness programs can help your team recognise and respond to potential threats, reducing the likelihood of successful attacks. Layer3 provide regular security training via our HRM service.
  8. Software update management: Keep all software and systems up to date with the latest security patches. Implement a rigorous patch management process to ensure timely updates and minimise the risk of attackers exploiting known vulnerabilities.
  9. Vendor collaboration: Work closely with your vendors and suppliers to ensure they are aware of and adhere to your organisation’s security requirements. Encourage open communication and collaboration to address potential security concerns and share threat intelligence.
  10. Cyber insurance: Pretty much a must these days – investing in cyber insurance to help mitigate the financial impact of a supply chain attack. While insurance cannot prevent an attack from occurring, it can provide financial support in the aftermath of an incident.


As the IT landscape continues to evolve, supply chain attacks represent a significant and growing threat to organisations of all sizes. By understanding the risks and implementing robust security measures, businesses can better protect themselves against these insidious attacks and ensure the integrity of their networks, systems, and data.

If your current MSP is not delivering on those key areas above, it’s time to talk to Layer3.

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