What Is a Software Supply Chain Attack?

What Is a Software Supply Chain Attack?


A software supply chain assault happens when a hostile actor exploits the software of a trusted third-party partner or supplier with malware. In a software supply chain attack, malicious actors penetrate a legitimate program, modify the source code, and conceal malware inside the build and update processes to automatically spread the malware downstream to a larger audience. The first victim is not the ultimate target of this kind of assault but rather a launching pad to many other possible networks. The trustworthy supplier is unaware that they are infecting their consumers with harmful malware.


These assaults are successful because they occur when consumers update software developed by a provider with whom they have an established connection and trust. When malicious code is placed on the target company's website, it shares the same rights as the trusted program. Software supply chain assaults, depending on the distribution of the affected program, can affect a significant number of people.


Before we talk about the types of supply chain attack, it's important to know the tools that will be helpful for minimizing these threats. You can use packagecloud to minimize the supply chain security risks. To ensure that the packages you use are secure, packagecloud analyzes them for vulnerabilities, supply chain poisonings, and trojan-horse assaults. Additionally, Packagecloud checks your packages against all known cybersecurity risks, guaranteeing that nothing inside them is susceptible.


Packagecloud can store all of your packages in one location, giving you complete control over the programs you use. Instead of utilizing public repositories, you may ensure that packages are always pulled from a controlled environment.


You can use Packagecloud to ensure the security of your packages and software supply chain and register for a free trial of Packagecloud.


Types of Supply Chain Threats

Malicious Trojan Horse Attack

A Trojan horse, or Trojan, is a malicious piece of code or software that appears to be genuine but can take control of your computer. A Trojan is a computer program designed to harm, disrupt, steal, or inflict some other harmful activity on your data or network. A Trojan disguises itself as a legitimate program or file to deceive you. It attempts to trick you into downloading and installing malware on your Mac, PC, or other devices. Once installed, a Trojan may carry out the different tasks.


Among the most prevalent Trojan kinds are the following:

  • Backdoor Trojans: This kind of Trojan enables hackers to remotely access and control a computer, often to upload, download, or execute files at any time.
  • Exploit Trojans: These Trojans insert code into a system specifically intended to exploit a vulnerability in a particular piece of software.
  • Rootkit Trojans: These Trojans are designed to avoid detecting malware that has already infected a system, allowing the virus to do the most harm possible.
  • Banker Trojans: This kind of Trojan is designed to steal personal information associated with banking and other online activities.
  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Trojans: They are designed to carry out DDoS assaults. A network or computer is rendered inoperable due to a flood of requests from many sources.
  • Downloader Trojans: These are files designed to download more malware onto a device, often containing other Trojans.


Poisoned Packages

The simplicity with which trusted users may download and install new Python (and Node.js, and Ruby, and so forth) components has resulted in plenty of cybercriminal assaults against package managers. Hackers sometimes poison a legal project's repository, usually by guessing or breaking the password of the package owner's account or by promising to "assist" with a program that the actual client no longer has time to manage.


Once the false version is posted to the legitimate repository, users of the now-hacked package are immediately infected when they upgrade to the new version, which functions save for the hidden virus that the hackers may exploit. Another technique is creating malware public versions of confidential software packages that the attacker is aware of internally by a software firm.


The public version of the package is assigned a higher version number than the internal version. Suppose the company's auto-updating processes are not adequately secured. In that case, the attacker may deceive the entire development team or even the organization's authorized software build system into upgrading private code from an unreliable (and malicious) external source.


Dependency Confusion (Duplicate Packages)

The "attack" on the popular open-source javascript package distributor npm by a whitehat security researcher exploits a vulnerability in multiple software namespaces. This enabled him to insert his code into the javascript environment and appear inside the production apps of the target businesses. While this particular attempt targeted businesses that support open source scanning of their application security, it didn't take very long for duplicate attacks with more malicious intents to arise.


The npm assault used a method known as dependency confusion or "namespace confusion," which is similar to a typo-squatting attack but with several critical differences. Typo-squatting attackers distribute packages with misspelled names that may be consumed due to human mistakes while manually entering dependency data. Duplicate packages, on the other hand, publish packages with the same name.


This approach included the researcher determining the names of internal packages used by a company's application and then publishing a package with the same name but a higher semantic version of an already-used package that was not in a controlled namespace or scope. When automated software development systems perform dependency updates, they often consult both external and internal sources. This may perplex the tools and lead them to bypass the confidential internally created package favoring the attacker's public package, which had a higher semantic version.


Typosquatting on Package Names

The package typosquatting involves less supervision and provides greater possibilities for bad actors to damage. Modern software development and use rely on package managers that facilitate code reuse, including code from registries where developers submit their completed software packages for others to download and use over the Internet. Package typosquatting is a kind of software supply chain attack in which the attacker attempts to imitate the name of an existing package on a public registry in the expectation that users or developers would download the malicious package inadvertently instead of the genuine one.


Because there is no centralized authority for maintaining or verifying software packages, attackers may easily upload a malicious package that looks identical to the legitimate one, with no actual consequences if they are discovered. For instance, a developer may attempt to install an image editor named "removing_images" when a malicious attacker uploads a package called "removing-images." In this case, an underscore is substituted for a dash. Additionally, attackers may attempt minor misspellings or rename the package (e.g., nmap-python rather than python-nmap) to mislead the developer to select the malicious program.



We must safeguard against software supply chain assaults as the number of applications, users, and devices in contemporary business grow. To do this, we must implement strict code integrity rules that enable only approved applications to execute and provide endpoint detection and response systems that automatically identify and remediate suspicious behavior. Software developers and suppliers must maintain a secure build and update platform, create safe software updaters throughout the software development lifecycle, and establish a strategy for software supply chain attacks.


To keep your supply chain secure, it's important that you use proper tools for complete security. Therefore Packagecloud is one of the tools whose efficiency against supply chain threats is very high. Using Packagecloud's vulnerability scanner, you can be confident that the packages you use are free of vulnerabilities, supply chain poisonings, and trojan-horse assaults. Packagecloud also checks your packages against all known cybersecurity risks, guaranteeing that nothing inside of them is susceptible.


Packagecloud can store all of your packages in one location, giving you complete control over the ones you use. You may ensure that you always pull packages from a controlled environment rather than utilizing public repositories.


Use Packagecloud to keep your packages and software supply chain completely safe. Here is where you may join up for a free Packagecloud trial.

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