Supply Chain Attacks – The Most Vulnerable Area Or Is It Something Else

Supply chain attacks, also known as supply chain breaches, are cyberattacks in which an attacker targets an organisation’s supply chain to gain access to sensitive data or systems. These attacks can be particularly damaging, as they can go undetected for long periods, allowing the attacker to infiltrate multiple layers of an organisation’s systems and infrastructure.

One of the critical reasons why supply chain attacks are so effective is that they take advantage of organisations’ trust in their suppliers and partners. When an organisation relies on a third-party supplier for goods or services, it trusts that the supplier will handle sensitive data and systems with care. However, if the supplier’s systems are compromised, that trust can be exploited by attackers.

Examples of Supply Chain Attacks

Common Supply Chain Attacks Methods

Malware injection: This involves inserting malicious code into software or hardware products supplied to the victim organisation. The malware is activated when the victim installs or uses the compromised product, allowing the attacker to access sensitive data or systems.

False update: In this attack, the attacker creates a fake update or patch for a software product used by the victim organisation. The attacker gains access to their systems when the victim installs the fake update.

Compromised third-party vendor: In this scenario, the attacker targets a third-party vendor used by the victim organisation, such as a cloud provider or software developer. The attacker can access the victim organisation’s data and systems by compromising the vendor’s systems.

Counterfeit products: This attack involves the attacker creating fake versions of hardware or software products that the victim organisation uses. The attacker gains access to their systems when the victim purchases and installs counterfeit products.

Insider attacks: Insider attacks involve an employee or contractor who has access to an organisation’s supply chain and uses that access to steal sensitive data or disrupt operations. These attacks can be challenging to detect and prevent.

Why is Supply Chain Currently Target Most For Cyberattacks

The supply chain is currently a prime target for cyberattacks for several reasons. One of the main reasons is that the supply chain is often the weakest link in an organisation’s security posture. This is because the supply chain comprises a complex network of suppliers, partners, and other third-party vendors, each of which may have different security practices and levels of protection.

Another reason the supply chain is targeted is that attackers often find it easier to access an organisation’s systems through the supply chain rather than directly. By targeting a third-party vendor or supplier, an attacker can gain access to an organisation’s systems without being detected.

In addition, the increasing reliance on technology in the supply chain has made it easier for attackers to carry out supply chain attacks. With the proliferation of connected devices and the use of software in supply chain operations, there are more points of entry for attackers to exploit.

Attackers commonly use several supply chain attacks, including malware injection, false updates, compromised third-party vendors, and counterfeit products. Each attack takes advantage of organisations’ trust in their suppliers and partners and can go undetected for long periods.

The impact of a supply chain attack can be severe, as it can allow attackers to infiltrate multiple layers of an organisation’s systems and infrastructure. This can lead to the loss of sensitive data, disruption of operations, and damage to an organisation’s reputation.

Examples of Supply Chain Attacks

There have been several high-profile examples of supply chain attacks in recent years. Some of the most notable examples include:

SolarWinds: In 2020, it was discovered that hackers had compromised the software of the IT management company SolarWinds and used it to gain access to the systems of various government agencies and private companies. This attack, believed to have been carried out by a nation-state, is considered one of the most sophisticated and wide-reaching supply chain attacks.

Target: In 2013, hackers gained access to the systems of retailer Target through a vendor that provided heating and air conditioning services. The attackers were able to steal the credit card information of 40 million customers and the personal data of 70 million customers.

Marriott: In 2018, it was discovered that hackers had been accessing the systems of the hotel chain Marriott for over four years through a subsidiary company. The attackers could steal the personal data of up to 500 million guests, including names, addresses, and passport numbers.

NotPetya: In 2017, a cyberattack known as NotPetya targeted the systems of Ukrainian company M.E.Doc and spread to other organisations through the supply chain. The attack caused widespread damage, with companies like Maersk, Merck, and FedEx reporting significant losses.

APT1: In 2013, security firm Mandiant released a report detailing the activities of a Chinese hacking group called APT1. The group was found to have compromised the systems of over 141 organisations through various supply chain attacks.

These examples demonstrate the destructive potential of supply chain attacks and the importance of implementing strong security measures and adopting secure procurement practices.

What Is Behind These Attacks

There are several motivations behind supply chain attacks, including:

Financial gain: One of the primary motivations behind supply chain attacks is financial gain. An attacker can steal valuable information such as credit card numbers, personal data, or intellectual property by gaining access to an organisation’s sensitive data or systems. This information can be sold on the black market or used to commit fraud.

Industrial espionage: In some cases, supply chain attacks are carried out to gather competitive intelligence or steal trade secrets. Nation-states or other groups often sponsor these attacks to gain a competitive advantage.

Sabotage: Supply chain attacks can also sabotage an organisation’s operations. For example, an attacker might compromise the software or hardware used in an organisation’s supply chain to disrupt production or cause damage to equipment.

Political or ideological motives: In some cases, supply chain attacks are carried out for political or ideological reasons. For example, an attacker might target an organisation’s supply chain to make a political statement or disrupt the organisation’s operations.

Attackers use several standard methods to carry out supply chain attacks, including malware injection, false updates, compromised third-party vendors, and counterfeit products. Each method takes advantage of organisations’ trust in their suppliers and partners and can be challenging to detect.

Which Industries Are The Target Groups

Supply chain attacks can impact any industry, but some industries are more likely to be targeted than others. Some of the industries that are most commonly targeted by supply chain attacks include:

Manufacturing: The manufacturing industry is a prime target for supply chain attacks due to the complex network of suppliers and partners involved in the production process. In addition, relying on software and connected devices in manufacturing operations creates additional points of entry for attackers.

Technology: The technology industry is also a common target for supply chain attacks, as it is often the source of valuable intellectual property and sensitive data. Attackers may target technology companies to steal trade secrets or gain a competitive advantage.

Healthcare: The healthcare industry is another common target for supply chain attacks, as it often holds many sensitive personal and medical data. Attackers may target healthcare organisations to steal this critical information and sell it on the black market.

Government: Government agencies and organisations are often targeted by supply chain attacks due to the sensitive nature of the information they hold. Attackers may target government organisations to steal sensitive data or disrupt operations.

Financial services: The financial services industry is also a common target for supply chain attacks, as it holds many sensitive financial data. Attackers may target financial institutions to steal credit card numbers or commit fraud.

Why is Supply Chain Currently Target Most For Cyberattacks<br />

What Can Companies Do To Prevent These Attacks

To prevent supply chain attacks, companies can take several measures, including:

Conducting thorough background checks on third-party vendors and suppliers: Before entering into a partnership or contract with a third-party vendor, it is vital to conduct thorough background checks to ensure that the vendor has strong security practices. This includes verifying the vendor’s security certifications and checking for past security incidents or breaches.

Implementing strong security measures: Companies should implement strong security measures such as encryption, access controls, and two-factor authentication to protect against supply chain attacks. This helps to ensure that sensitive data and systems are protected even if an attacker gains access.

Regularly updating software and firmware: Keeping software and firmware up-to-date is crucial for protecting against supply chain attacks. It is essential to periodically check for and install updates to ensure systems are protected against the latest threats.

Educating employees: Training employees on good security practices is critical to preventing supply chain attacks. This includes teaching employees how to spot and report suspicious emails or activities and appropriately handle sensitive data.

Implementing secure procurement practices: Companies can also protect against supply chain attacks by implementing secure procurement practices. This includes verifying the authenticity of products and software before purchasing them and ensuring that all products are properly licensed and up-to-date.

Conducting regular security assessments: These can help companies identify and address any vulnerabilities in their supply chain. These assessments should include internal and external assessments of the organisation’s systems and processes.

Establishing incident response protocols: It is also essential for companies to have incident response protocols in place if a supply chain attack occurs. These protocols should outline the steps that should be taken to contain the attack, mitigate any damage, and restore affected systems.

Working with cybersecurity experts: Finally, companies can prevent supply chain attacks by working with cybersecurity experts who have experience detecting and responding to these types of attacks. These experts can help companies implement strong security measures and develop a plan for responding to potential attacks.

Nick Roddick

Head of Production

Elpidoforos Arapantonis

Senior IT security manager at Volvo

Elpidoforos Arapantonis aka Elpis is Chief Product Security Officer at ecarx in Gothenburg, Sweden. He has academic background in electronics with M.Sc. degrees in distributed systems, as well as in information security. He has long experience working in projects around Autonomous Driving, and Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems in OEMs, from the cybersecurity point of view. His current focus is cybersecurity on infotainment systems as well as vehicles’ off board systems.

Anders Jared

CISO at Bravida

With decades in the area of security I now lead the IT and information security work within Systembolaget AB. This proactive engagement together with my background of analyzing security breaches in criminal investigations renders me a unique understanding of both threats and prevention possibilities in our digitalized world.

Anthony Herrin

Nordic Head of Cyber Underwriting at RiskPoint Group

Anthony has 15 years of experience in the insurance industry with roles within both broking and underwriting. He has focused on cyber risk and insurance since 2015 and is CISM certified. Whilst predominantly on the broking side at Aon, JLT and Marsh over the last few years, he has recently moved to an underwriting role at Riskpoint and will lead their team of Nordic Underwriters.

Bernard Helou

Head of IT Governance at Lendo Group

Bernard has 15 years experience in information security. He has been working as a
cybersecurity consultant to CAC40 companies in Paris for 9 years before taking internal roles as information security manager. From security awareness to data protection strategy or
contingency plans, he has a good overview of security best practices.

Moa Mörner


Moa Mörner is an experienced Data Protection Officer with a demonstrated history of working with questions concerning processing on a large scale of special categories of personal data, both for Controllers and Processors. She is skilled in data protection law, advising on strategic level as well as operative, assessments and recommendations, educating, and managing incidents of personal data breaches. Moa is strong advocate for making data protection and information security working together, when the perspective of the individual (data protection) and the perspective of the organization (information security) allows it.

Today Moa is Group DPO at SJ AB.

Jacqueline Jönsson

CISO at Danish Energy Grid

During my 20+ years in the security sector I have a good feeling about what works in practice and gives results and what doesn’t. The part that engages me most is integration of technical security with legal and financial aspects as well as people’s behavior.

Core skill is CISO work and guiding board members and executives about cybersecurity, operational resilience and business assurance.

Also advice on regulations, directives and practices for the financial services and energy sector.

Jonas Rendahl

CISO at Aurobay

My name is Jonas Rendahl and I work as CISO at Aurobay (Powertrain Engineering Sweden AB). I live south of Gothenburg with my wife and daughter.

I started my interest in computers and security at an early age. I have worked within IT since early 2000 but I have worked within many different industries and areas before that. Within IT I have worked with things like development, support, testing, management, audits, disaster and recovery, architecture, operational security and almost all aspects of security you can think of.

I have a keen interest in security and love the fact that it is such a dynamic and ever-evolving industry. From all of my experiences I have learnt that nothing is static and that all experiences are something to learn from.

I am a rather pragmatic person in such respect that I try to listen the organization’s needs and weigh that against potential risks and possible and plausible security measures. I am a firm believer in simplicity over complexity and in setting up the foundation for fruitful conversations by first defining the boundaries and basic concepts to ensure everyone understand each other.

Klas Themner

CISO/Deputy CEO at AMRA Medica

Klas Themner has, as AMRA’s Chief Information Security Officer, overall responsibility for the management of the company’s information security. Klas has been at AMRA since 2017, mostly in the role of COO, also keeping the role of deputy CEO. Before joining AMRA Medical he had 20+ years of experience as COO & CFO in a number of different listed medical device companies within advanced medical image processing and across all imaging modalities. Previously to Life Science, Klas spent 10 years with the Swedish defense industry. He has an engineering background and holds a PhD in Nuclear Physics from Lund University.

Lorena Carthy-Wilmot

Senior advisor in Digital Policing (DPA) at Lillestrøm police station

Former Head of the Forensic Technology Services Lab at PwC in Oslo. Now Senior Advisor in the field of Digital Forensics at the Norwegian Police, East District.


Future leader of cybersecurity sector at Einride

I'm a Senior Security Advisor within the IT/Telco domain with more than 25+ years in the industry.

Thea Sogenbits

CISO at Estonian Tax and Customs Board

Thea maintains tax secrecy of everyone in Estonia. As CISO of the Estonian Tax and Customs
Board she leads the security vision and information security management programme as well as the certified information security organization within the ETCB.

Her academic research focuses on the value chains and business models of professional
organized cross-border transnational cybercrime.

She trains and mentors military, public and private executives on hybrid defense and integration of next level defenses to organizational daily policies, practices and culture.

Thomas Evertsson

Head of IT security at DNB Bank

If you are looking for an efficient, Get the Job Done IT Manager with high ambitions then you've found the right person. I am inspired by a fast pace and successfully driving change, both organizational and technical. I see myself as a realistic optimist who is happy to share ideas and knowledge with others. Experience has taught me to be honest, cohesive and consistent, factors I see as important to success.

Tomi Dahlberg

Senior Advisor Cyber Security at State Treasury of Finland

My executive work, IT management and governance centric career started in 1976. I'm still passionate about these topics as they evolve all the time. Since 1984 I've worked in managerial and since 1988 in executive positions in business, academy and consulting (ABC). Business executive is my main career path.

I have worked in business executive positions in software (e.g. Unic), finance (e.g. Danske Bank), telecom operator (e.g. Elisa), nanotechnology, executive consultancy, and IT services. I have written 70+ publications both academic and practical as a part-time professor in business schools since the year 2000 . My research motive is to understand in depth issues that I conduct in business.

Executive work expertise areas: Corporate governance and board work, change management and leadership, strategy work & management, business models, business development, innovation management, finance.

IT executive expertise areas: governance and management of IT, OT, digital business and platform business, CIO/CDO work, IT service management, data management, business and IS development methods.

Benjamin Bauchmann

CISO at Ströer SE & Co. KGa

Speaking session - March 16th, 2023

Visibility is crucial: E-criminals will find your internet-facing assets you do not know much about

You can only protect the assets you know of, so it’s important to have a high visibility on all your internet-facing assets. Even more in times like these in which states/hackers/the bad guys try to cause havoc. They do not need to target you specifically, but they will find your assets, you do not know about.
Biography: If he had been in Troy then, the city would still be standing today. When it comes to security, most people rely on offerings to the IT gods. Not so Benjamin Bachmann, because he sees cyber security as a holistic issue that must consider and address the triad of people, organization and technology in equal measure. In other words, they form the foundation of a sustainable and livable security culture. An industrial engineer by training, he felt called to promulgate these early on on behalf of various consulting firms. Today, as Vice President Group Information Security at Ströer, he is responsible for the strategic security of the entire Group and develops implementable, useable and human-centered security concepts for the subsidiaries. Privately, he has been battling with his friends for years to see who can bake the best wholemeal sourdough bread, is on a sustainable journey and shows that cyber security is not dry-as-dust topic.

Tobias Ander

CISO at Örebro kommun

Speaking session - March 16th, 2023

Raising a cybersecurity culture! - Why is it so important?

Tobias will be delivering an insightful talk on how to comprehend the security implications of a futuristic security strategy. This talk will focus on the importance of incorporating the security function into crucial decisions, and will provide an overview of what such a strategy would look like. He will examine the emerging technologies in the field of security, and explore how they will influence the security strategies of tomorrow.
Biography: Tobias Ander got more than 20 years of experience in information security. Today he is CISO at Örebro Kommun, runs his own company Securebyme and recently released the book Informationssäkerhetskultur (Information security culture) in swedish. Tobias was awarded “This year’s GRC-profile” in 2017 for his commitment in Governance Risk and Compliance.

Ståle Risem-Johansen

CISO at Spare Bank

Experienced senior manager with 20+ within Energy sector as CIO and CISO. Chairman of the Board of Nationwide Security forum in Norway (Energy Sector) for 7 years. Confident with working with regulator and The Office of the Auditor General Strong relationship-builder always aiming to Learn more. If security is done the proper way it will become a business enabler. Currently hold the position as CISO in SpareBank 1 SMN – a part of SpareBank 1 alliance.

Raviv Raz

Cyber & AI Innovation at Ing

Speaking session - March 16th, 2023

How will AI impact CyberSecurity in near future

  • AI is gradually taking a prominent part in Cybersecurity
  • Recent developments in offensive AI pose, in a close future, threat to  conventional security measures, arming malicious hackers with a powerful  technology previously unavailable to the masses
  • Innovative Advancements on both sides of the force
  • Is AI going to help to save the security staffing shortage or lead to a dark future

Raviv has pioneered and disrupted several domains in Cybersecurity including:

  • Network Access Control
  • Web Behaviour Analytics
  • Programming Language Processing

As part of his R&D work in ING he co-founded the CodeFix and PurpleAI innovation initiatives: reducing false-positive alerts in application security testing and using AI in offensive security testing.
Specialising in Application Security, Raviv has blogged, lectured, appeared in the news and released open-source tools used by tens of thousands of hackers.

Including R.U.D.Y that appeared on the TV show Mr. Robot