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A supply chain attack, also known as a third-party or value-chain attack, is a type of cyberattack that targets an organization's suppliers or service providers as a means to compromise the target organization. Instead of directly attacking the target, the attacker infiltrates a trusted entity within the supply chain, which can include software vendors, hardware manufacturers, logistics companies, or any other intermediary that interacts with the target organization. The goal of a supply chain attack is to gain unauthorized access to the target organization's systems, data, or infrastructure.

Here are some key characteristics of supply chain attacks:

1. Trust Exploitation: Supply chain attacks exploit the trust relationship between the target organization and its suppliers or service providers. Since these entities are trusted, the target organization may not scrutinize the components or services they receive as thoroughly as they should.

2. Infection Point: Attackers compromise a supplier's systems or the supply chain infrastructure, often by injecting malware or other malicious code into the products or services supplied. This can be done at various stages, such as during software development, distribution, or even manufacturing.

3. Proliferation: Once the malicious code is embedded in the supply chain, it can propagate to the target organization's network or systems when they use or install the compromised products or services.

4. Diverse Attack Vectors: Supply chain attacks can take various forms, including software supply chain attacks, hardware supply chain attacks, and even physical tampering with products or components.

5. High-Impact Potential: These attacks can have a significant impact on the target organization, as they may compromise the integrity and security of critical systems, sensitive data, and even customer trust.

Common examples of supply chain attacks include:

- Compromised software updates: Attackers may infiltrate a software vendor's update distribution system and inject malicious code into software updates that are subsequently installed by users.

- Malware-infected hardware: This involves tampering with hardware components, such as adding malicious chips or firmware to devices during manufacturing.

- Rogue insiders: Employees or contractors of the supply chain partners can intentionally or unintentionally introduce vulnerabilities or malicious code.

To defend against supply chain attacks, organizations should:

1. Vet and monitor their suppliers and service providers for security and compliance.

2. Verify the integrity of software and hardware components before deploying them.

3. Implement strong access controls, network segmentation, and monitoring to detect suspicious activities.

4. Conduct regular security audits and risk assessments of the supply chain.

5. Establish an incident response plan specific to supply chain breaches.

Supply chain attacks are a growing concern in the cybersecurity landscape, as they can have far-reaching consequences, and organizations must take proactive steps to mitigate these risks.

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