Supply chain attacks are the hacker's new favourite weapon. And the threat is getting bigger

Compromising a business supply chain is a key goal for cyber attackers, because by gaining access to a company that provides software or services to many other companies, it’s possible to find a potential way into thousands of targets at once.

Several major incidents during the past 12 months have demonstrated the large-scale consequences supply chain attacks can have. In one of the biggest cybersecurity incidents in recent years, cyber attackers working for the Russian foreign intelligence service compromised updates from IT services provider SolarWinds that were downloaded by 18,000 customers, with the attackers then going on to target around 100 of those customers including several US government agencies.

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Other cyber criminals were able to carry out a supply chain attack using a vulnerability in software from Kaseya to launch a ransomware attack that affected thousands of its customers around the world. 

SEE: A winning strategy for cybersecurity (ZDNet special report)

“The issue of the threat to IT service providers as part of a supply chain was clearly one of the features of the last year,” said Simon Mehdian-Staffell, UK government affairs manager at Microsoft, speaking during a Chatham House Cyber 2021 Conference discussion on the rise of state-backed cyberattacks.

Some of these attacks have been

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