Why your supply chain puts you at risk of cyber attack


November 12, 2021

You may be doing everything you can to protect your organisation from cyber attacks. But are the suppliers you work with putting you at risk?

Let’s find out more


How many suppliers do you work with to produce your goods or services? Walmart work with over 100,000 and Total Oil over 150,000. Or perhaps the product you make is part of someone else’s supply chain? Your business may not work with as many suppliers as a multi-national oil giant, but even if it’s just a handful, they could be putting you at risk of disastrous cyber attacks. If you’re only focusing on your own company when it comes to cyber security, you’re only doing half a job.

In this article, we’ll look at how cyber criminals target companies that work in supply chains as a way of getting to bigger prizes – and what you can do about it.

What are hackers looking for?

The holy grail for cyber criminals right now is information on the latest weapons and military technology. Superpowers like China are interested in discovering what other countries’ militaries have in stock and how their weapons are constructed, making this kind of data extremely valuable. 

However, when cyber criminals try to hack directly into the databases of defence giants like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon or Boeing, they are often unable to do it. After all, these big companies have the resources to afford the latest, toughest cyber security. They also have Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) to deal with any issues. 

So, what can cyber criminals do? They go further down the supply chain.

Instead of directly attacking the giant defence companies they want to infiltrate, cyber criminal groups attempt to hack into their suppliers or third-party companies that they deal with. If these groups can get their malware into the supply chain and it spreads to the defence giant, they have unlocked the previously closed door. 

How do they do it?

A cyber criminal group (such as Elderwood, who masterminded the Aurora cyber-attacks in 2009) will study all the parts that make up a specific weapon built by Lockheed Martin, for example. Then, they’ll research who makes the parts, and move further down the supply chain, making a list of suppliers they can target.

They will then use various methods to infect these smaller companies, which cannot afford tough cybersecurity. They may use phishing via email or create infectious websites that are one letter different from sites a supplier’s staff frequently visit. Eventually, they will get their malware or ransomware inside the supplier. Once the infection spreads to the bigger company, they can access all the confidential information they need. 


How it affects you

The effects of a cyber attack can be disastrous:

  • Loss of essential corporate and financial information
  • Reputational damage
  • Expenditure on fixing cyber security issues
  • Legal issues 
  • Possible spend on new IT equipment and paying the hackers’ ransom

And this is just scratching the surface.

The fact is, even if you’re not a defence multinational like Boeing, cyber criminal groups may be trying to infiltrate your systems to try and get to someone else. Or, they’re looking at your suppliers to get to you.

While you may be doing everything you can to protect your organisation from cyber attacks, you probably don’t know what your suppliers are doing, or their suppliers.

Fortunately, there’s an answer.

The Darkbeam solution

When you let Darkbeam handle your digital risk management, we won’t just monitor your site, but your entire ecosystem. Darkbeam will:

  • Risk assess your whole supply chain to identify vulnerabilities, historical breaches and more
  • Track and alert you if there are any changes to your risk profile
  • Produce a detailed security breakdown to help you get to the bottom of any issues


Darkbeam is available as a SaaS platform or an API that integrates with your existing systems.

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