Why Are Supply Chain Attacks Targeting Critical Infrastructure?

April 9, 2024

Supply chain attacks are not new cyber-threats. For a long time now, cybercriminals have gone after the services that our services rely on instead of spending time targeting each individual. Ultimately, the goal is the same: to steal as much of your personally identifiable information (PII) as is possible.

Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting the supply chains of critical infrastructure providers, such as power grids and water treatment plants. These attacks can have a devastating impact on society and are likely to become even more common in the coming years. 

First, let’s define “critical infrastructure” in case you aren’t aware. It refers to the backbone systems that keep our society functioning, like power grids, water treatment plants, transportation networks, and healthcare facilities.

In other words, it’s the systems that society can’t effectively function without! We all rely on critical infrastructure to make our day-to-day lives more convenient, and take advantage of twenty-first century technology.

Critical infrastructure systems often hold sensitive data about individuals, including PII (Personally Identifiable Information). By attacking the supply chain, attackers can gain access to this data for various malicious purposes, such as identity theft, fraud, and blackmail.

Unfortunately for us, threat actors have increasingly targeted these systems in recent years. Supply chain attacks, whose risks and uncertainties often interrupt the operational efficiency of the supply chain, often have adverse impacts on an organization as well as everyone in it. Cybercriminals don’t have to target your Facebook profile if they can take over Facebook itself, or sneak in via the third-party that Facebook hires to take customer complaint calls.

By compromising a single vendor used by many critical infrastructure providers, attackers can gain access to multiple targets with minimal effort. This amplifies the potential impact of the attack, causing widespread disruption and even endangering lives. Threat actors also tend to target the weakest link, because smaller supply chain partners often have less robust cybersecurity measures due to limited resources and expertise. Attackers exploit these vulnerabilities to gain a foothold and then pivot to the more protected critical infrastructure systems.

How does this all come back to you? Businesses tend to trust their established vendors, relying on their security practices and knowing that they have always been secure in the past. This trust creates a blind spot for attackers to exploit, infiltrating seemingly safe systems through compromised products or services. You don’t have to fall for their tricks at all, and they could still get your PII.

If a cyberattack successfully breaches critical infrastructure through a supply chain vulnerability, the perpetrators could steal large amounts of PII; including names, addresses, Social Security numbers, financial information and medical records. This exposes individuals to the risk of identity theft, financial loss, and medical privacy violations.

On a larger scale, compromised critical infrastructure can lead to disruptions in essential services like electricity, water, communication and healthcare. This can significantly compromise our health and safety!

When critical infrastructure is compromised, it erodes public trust in these systems and the organizations responsible for their security. To protect your PII from supply chain cyberattacks, it’s up to YOU to take proactive measures!

  • Be cautious about sharing personal information online and with unknown entities.
  • Use strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication.
  • Stay informed about cyber threats and scams.
  • Report any suspicious activity to the relevant authorities.

By taking these steps, we can collectively build a more secure and resilient cyber environment that protects our critical infrastructure and safeguards our PII!

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