Supply chain attacks on the rise as one of the biggest new threat vectors as organisations scramble to close gaps

CrowdStrike Inc., the cloud-delivered endpoint protection solutions provider, has announced the results of its global supply chain survey, Securing the Supply Chain, produced by independent research firm Vanson Bourne.

The study surveyed 1,300 senior IT decision-makers and IT security professionals in the US, Canada, UK, Mexico, Australia, Germany, Japan, and Singapore across major industry sectors.

The survey concludes that although nearly 80 percent of respondents believe software supply chain attacks have the potential to become one of the biggest cyber threats over the next three years, few organizations are prepared to mitigate the risks. More specifically:

  • Two-thirds of the surveyed organizations experienced a software supply chain attack in the past 12 months. At the same time, 71 percent believe their organization does not always hold external suppliers to the same security standards.
  • The vast majority (87 percent) of those that suffered a software supply chain attack had either a full strategy in place, or some level of response pre-planned at the time of their attack.
  • Only 37 percent of respondents in the US, UK and Singapore said their organization has vetted all suppliers, new or existing in the past 12 months and only a quarter believe with certainty their organization will increase its supply chain resilience in the future.
  • 90 percent of respondents confirmed they incurred a financial cost as a result of experiencing a software supply chain attack. The average cost of an attack was over $1.1 million dollars.

While supply chain threats can occur in every sector of the economy, the industries that mostly experience these attacks are biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, hospitality, entertainment and media, and IT services. Following last year's NotPetya attack and with GDPR in effect, organizations are more concerned about vetting their suppliers and partners. In fact, 58 percent of senior IT decision-makers whose organization has vetted software suppliers in the past 12 months stated that they will be more rigorous when evaluating their partners, and nearly 90 percent agree security is a critical factor when making purchasing decisions surrounding new suppliers.

Although almost 90 percent of the respondents believe they are at risk for supply chain attack, companies are still slow to detect, remediate and respond to threats. On average, respondents from nearly all of the countries surveyed take close to 63 hours to detect and remediate a software supply chain attack, while the leading organizations aim to eject an adversary in less than two hours, also known as "breakout time," according to prior CrowdStrike research. However, the study indicates that organizations are looking to adopt leading approaches to breach protection such as behavioral analytics, endpoint detection and response, and threat intelligence, with three quarters of respondents using or evaluating these technologies.

"It's clear that supply chain attacks are becoming a business-critical issue, impacting topline relationships with partners and suppliers but organizations largely lack the knowledge, tools, and technology to be protected," said Dan Larson, CrowdStrike's vice president of Product Marketing. "Knowledge gaps and the lack of established standards to prevent complex supply chain attacks are putting organizations at risk from a financial, reputational, and operational perspective. Organizations need effective prevention, detection and response technologies to mitigate these growing risks, and we are encouraged to see the uptick in interest to adopt next-generation endpoint security technologies."

According to Gartner, "Software- and hardware-based supply chain attacks are also trending up... Consequently, monitoring higher layers for behavior indicative of an attack is crucial to obtain better protection against advanced adversaries. EDR capabilities are a prerequisite to enable behavioral-based attack detection."

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