Keeping your business safe from cyber attacks

Protecting your supply chain from cyber-attacks

In recent years, businesses have seen an increase in cyber-attacks on their supply chain, which can lead to significant financial losses, reputational damage, and legal liabilities. Let's take a look at recent examples of cyber-attacks that have affected supply chains in different industries.

The Target Data Breach

In 2013, the US department store Target experienced a data breach that affected 110 million customers. The attackers gained access to Target's payment system by stealing credentials from one of its vendors, a heating and air conditioning subcontractor. The attackers were able to infiltrate Target's supply chain (many of which would supply companies all around the world, including the UK) by exploiting a vulnerability in a vendor's security, highlighting the importance of verifying the security protocols of all vendors involved in the supply chain.

The NotPetya Attack on Maersk

In 2017, the shipping giant Maersk was hit by the NotPetya ransomware attack, which encrypted its entire computer network and forced the company to shut down its operations for several weeks. The attackers were able to infiltrate Maersk's supply chain by targeting the Ukrainian accounting software used by one of Maersk's local subsidiaries. The attack had a significant impact on Maersk's operations, resulting in losses of up to $300 million.

The SolarWinds Attack on the US Government

In late 2020, the US government discovered a massive cyber-attack that targeted several federal agencies and private companies, including SolarWinds, a software vendor that provides IT management tools to numerous government agencies and private businesses. The attackers were able to infiltrate SolarWinds' supply chain by compromising the software build process, which allowed them to insert malicious code into the company's products. The attack had a far-reaching impact on US national security and highlighted the importance of monitoring the security of all vendors in a supply chain, who of course supply vendors in other countries.

These three recent examples show that cyber-attacks on the supply chain can have devastating consequences for businesses, government agencies, and consumers. Therefore, it's imperative that you have a plan in place to protect yourself and know what to do should your business be attacked.

How can you protect your business from cyber-attacks?

In today's digital age, businesses are increasingly relying on their supply chain to deliver goods and services to their customers. Unfortunately, this also means that businesses are facing an increasing risk of cyber-attacks on their supply chain. So, it is crucial for you to take steps to keep your business safe and secure from the threat of cyber-attacks against your supply chain.

Examine Risk

The first step in securing your supply chain is to conduct a risk assessment to identify potential weak points. This will help you understand the potential vulnerabilities, what damage an attack on them might inflict on your business, and prioritise the areas that need to be secured.

Once you have identified the critical components of your supply chain, you need to establish clear and concise cybersecurity policies and procedures that all parties involved in your supply chain should follow. This might include requirements for strong passwords, encryption, and multi-factor authentication. It is important to ensure that all parties involved in your supply chain are aware of these policies and procedures, and that they are regularly updated to reflect new threats and best practices.

Ensure practices are followed

Before engaging with any new supplier, you should ensure that they meet your cybersecurity standards. This involves conducting background checks, verifying their security protocols, and reviewing their security audits. It is also important to ensure that all parties involved in your supply chain are aware of your cybersecurity policies and procedures and are following them.

Monitoring your network is also essential to detect and respond to any potential cybersecurity threats, including those originating from your supply chain. You should also ensure that all software and hardware used in your supply chain are updated regularly with the latest security patches and upgrades. It's very easy to continue to run on outdated operating systems on computers driving specific hardware, simply because updating them alone may require updating or even replacing the hardware that they are attached to, but this is a false economy. There are plenty of examples of cyber attacks being successful because companies failed to apply updates to the OS or software. Microsoft themselves had released a patch that the WannaCry ransomware exploited for the then unsupported Windows XP several months prior to the attack - it was still devastating due to the number of PCs that had not yet been updated!


Regular training is crucial to ensure that all employees and vendors involved in your supply chain understand the importance of cybersecurity and their role in keeping your business safe. This includes training on best practices for password management, email security, and identifying potential phishing scams. Regular training sessions should be conducted to keep everyone up to date with the latest threats and best practices.

Backup, backup, backup!

Backing up your data is also crucial in ensuring that your business operations are not disrupted in case of a cyber-attack or other disaster. Establishing a regular backup routine can help ensure that your data is secure and can be restored quickly in case of a cyber-attack or other disaster. You should also ensure that your backups are stored in a secure location and are regularly tested to ensure that they can be restored when needed. Cloud backup services such as OneDrive, iCloud, iDrive or CrashPlan keep incremental backups, allowing you to roll back to a version of a file from a specific date.

It's worth noting that 123Insight users can recover quickly from a cyber-attack due to its SQL Server-based platform. In the event of, say, ransomware hitting your network, once you have stopped the spread and reinstalled the OS, you only need to restore the SQL database from a backup, install the application (which we can assist with remotely) and your manufacturing system will be back online again.

Document incidents

Finally, developing a comprehensive incident response plan is essential to handle any cybersecurity incidents quickly and efficiently. This plan should include procedures for reporting incidents, isolating affected systems, and conducting investigations to identify the root cause of the problem. It is important to test this plan regularly to ensure that it is effective and up to date.


Cyber-attacks against the supply chain can have severe consequences for businesses. Therefore, it is crucial to take steps to keep your business operations safe and secure from the threat of cyber-attacks against your supply chain. Conducting a risk assessment, establishing clear cybersecurity policies and procedures, verifying your vendors, monitoring your network, regular training, backing up your data, and developing an incident response plan are all essential steps in securing your supply chain. By following these steps, you can help reduce the risk of cyber-attacks and keep your business operations safe and secure.