Despite more cyberattacks during supply chain crisis, complacency remains 

A new Kaspersky report – produced in association with leading freight transport insurer TT Club – has revealed that despite a rise in cyberattacks during the supply chain crisis, 16% of UK businesses deprioritized cybersecurity last year amid the pandemic, port closures, heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver shortages and other challenges associated with Brexit.

Cybercriminals have become ever more sophisticated at exploiting organizational silos, security gaps caused by remote working and the supply chain crisis, to undermine the safety and security of critical systems. So much so that companies across the UK and Benelux reported a 30% rise in the number of cyberattacks they faced during last year, compared to previous years.

Indeed, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recently reported an unprecedented 777 incidents over the last 12 months – up from 723 the previous year. High-profile attacks, such as the SolarWinds attack in 2020, have demonstrated how threat actors can target a vast number of organizations by breaching a single link in a supply chain.

Despite these threats, Kaspersky’s report found that both enterprises and SMEs are showing a worrying level of complacency when it comes to protecting the resilience of their supply chains. 

Even though almost three-quarters (72%) of companies said that cybersecurity threats are their number-one concern, only a third (33%) have the necessary internal resources and knowledge to respond to a cybersecurity incident. And just 35% are certain they have taken every possible step to mitigate third-party risks in their organization. The findings reveal that companies deprioritized cybersecurity did so in favor of other real-time challenges, such as HGV driver shortages and other logistical issues caused by the pandemic.

Mike Yarwood, TT Club’s Managing Director, Loss Prevention, said: “One should not underestimate cyber criminals. They are agile, focused and highly sophisticated, presenting a significant threat to businesses in the global supply chain. 

“As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, TT would encourage a re-evaluation of cyber risk policies and urge operators to satisfy themselves that sufficient resource is allocated to addressing this threat. Resilience in the face of cyber risk is critical.”

A supply chain attack targets an organization by infiltrating or attacking a business that sits in its chain of suppliers. If one of these entities has low cybersecurity threat protection – or it is avoiding some specific cyber security hygiene protocols – it could become the entry point into a much wider network of suppliers. The risk can vary greatly and adds to a company’s threat surface complexity.

A vulnerability in one organization can significantly impact somewhere else in the supply chain, whether that’s via compromised personal identity or payment credentials. If a supply chain’s weak link is exploited, a business can be brought to its knees. Yet, Kaspersky’s report reveals that just a fifth (20%) of businesses have a third-party risk management solution in place and only 18% of companies have cyber/business resilience insurance.

Commenting on the findings, David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky, stated: “The pandemic, Brexit and supply chain crisis have complicated the cyber threat landscape, making it crucial that organizations take steps to defend against evolving threats under new circumstances. 

“Cyberattacks and data breaches can be highly injurious to any business in terms of damage to reputation, costs of remediation, lost business and other expenses. Companies must ensure they only share data with reliable third parties and extend their existing security requirements to suppliers. 

“We urge businesses large and small to scrutinize their suppliers’ credentials as part of the standard due diligence and contracting process, or risk sleepwalking into a cybersecurity disaster.”   

Image credit: iStock/metamorworks

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