We all remember the Ocean’s 11 styles of antics that criminals can emulate to gain access to IoT devices and, subsequently, the enterprise network on which they are hosted. It may have been an isolated incident, but it underscores that ANY vulnerability can be exploited.
The question of “why should we be bothered now?” begs to be answered, given that these risks have been around for a long time. But, interestingly, the 2020 COVID lockdown (and subsequent ones) and the impacts it had on the supply chain may help us to answer this question with surprising clarity.
Do you remember how difficult it was to get hold of toilet paper, pasta and hand gel in March of 2020? Panic buying meant that the supply chain struggled to meet demand; combined with the “just in time” supply models employed by most manufacturers and retailers, stocks were diminished quickly with no replenishment in sight. So far, so what, right?
According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics, there are well over 8,000 small to medium sized food suppliers in the UK (probably exacerbated by the gig economy as well). How many companies of this size do you know of that have a robust cybersecurity programme in place?
This puts them at a significant disadvantage when it comes to recognising a cyber-attack and defending against it. Given the fish tank scenario from my last blog, it is no stretch of the imagination to see circumstances whereby chilled and perishable goods are sabotaged and destroyed, either in situ or in transit. Remote monitoring is rapidly becoming the norm and will reduce costs and effort, something any small business would jump at. So protecting these environments, the sensors, and the control devices from the get-go becomes critical.
The incentives to disrupt and destroy the supply chains are sometimes manifest, but only occasionally. Terrorism, both domestic and international, will always try and attack a nation’s weakest point. But there are other threats to consider as well.
The (fairly) recent global lockdowns and various actions carried out by governments worldwide have changed the business and planetary ecosystem, and not always for the better. Without commenting on the politics of the situations themselves, activism has been on the rise globally, with people taking to the streets to defend their particular viewpoints and air their grievances.
The hacker group, Anonymous, are the epitome of so-called “hacktivism”, using their collective skills to disrupt and expose governments and corporations. Their particular flavour of activism involves attacking their targets and exploiting their weaknesses for political and social leverage. So again, it doesn’t take a leap of the imagination to see these current troubling times being a catalyst for more hacktivism, attacking vulnerable supply chains through their reliance on IoT technology.
The positive impact of technology always needs to be balanced against the sociological and cultural impractical it may have, as well as the environment in which it operates. With the commoditisation of security testing capabilities and offensive technological tools, the ability to attack and exploit weaknesses in the supply chain becomes open to the general populace. If that populace suffers a more significant division of wealth and disenfranchisement, the risk of the supply chain being attacked is greater.
Ocean’s 11 suddenly becomes The Hunger Games; the implications of an insecure supply chain vulnerable to attack can have severe consequences for what we consider to be our ‘normal’ lives. So taking precautions now to protect our society’s lifelines must be imperative.
Links to other interesting stuff on the web (affiliate links)
BSidesAustin 2023: CyberSecurity In The Texas Tech Capital
Understanding ‘Lone Wolf’ Attacks Dissecting and Modeling 2022’s Most Powerful Cyber Attacks