Protect Your Organization: Defend Against Supply Chain Cyberattacks with Proven Strategies

Apr 5, 2023
supply chain cyberattacks


Supply chain cyberattacks have become increasingly prevalent, posing a significant risk to organizations that rely on external vendors and partners. Recently, enterprise communications software maker 3CX fell victim to such an attack, impacting multiple versions of its desktop app for Windows and macOS. In this blog post, we’ll analyze the 3CX incident and provide recommendations and a checklist to help you defend your network against future supply chain cyberattacks. We will also discuss the importance of proactive measures and the benefits of a strong cybersecurity culture within your organization.

The 3CX Supply Chain Cyberattack

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3cx Supply Chain Cyberattack

On Thursday, 3CX confirmed that several versions of its desktop app were affected by a supply chain cyberattack. The compromised versions include 18.12.407 and 18.12.416 for Windows and 18.11.1213, 18.12.402, 18.12.407, and 18.12.416 for macOS. The attack has been assigned the CVE identifier CVE-2023-29059.

3CX has engaged Google-owned Mandiant to investigate the incident and has urged customers of self-hosted and on-premise versions to update to version 18.12.422. The attack’s origins are still unknown, but it is believed that 3CX’s software build pipeline was compromised, or an upstream dependency was poisoned.

The impact of the attack has been widespread, with affected machines primarily located in Italy, Germany, Austria, the U.S., South Africa, Australia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, and the U.K. The earliest signs of potentially malicious activity were detected on or around March 22, 2023, but it is believed that preparations for the sophisticated campaign began as early as February 2022.

Recommendations and Checklist for Enhanced Security

In light of the 3CX incident, organizations must take proactive measures to defend their networks against supply chain cyberattacks. Here are some recommendations and a checklist to follow:

  1. Develop a comprehensive security policy: Create a detailed security policy that covers all aspects of your organization’s operations, including the use of third-party vendors and suppliers. This policy should outline best practices, responsibilities, and protocols for dealing with potential threats.
  2. Assess your supply chain risks: Regularly evaluate the risks associated with your organization’s supply chain and develop a risk management plan to address vulnerabilities.
  3. Vet suppliers and partners: Thoroughly vet your suppliers and partners, ensuring they maintain adequate security practices, including security policies, audits, and certifications.
  4. Implement strong access controls: Limit access to sensitive information and systems, employing strong authentication methods such as multi-factor authentication (MFA).
  5. Encrypt communications: Use encryption and secure communication protocols to protect data transmitted between your organization and supply chain partners.
  6. Develop a cybersecurity culture: Train employees on best practices, emphasizing password security, phishing awareness, and secure file sharing. Foster an environment where everyone takes responsibility for the organization’s cybersecurity.
  7. Monitor for threats: Continuously monitor supply chain partners for signs of compromise, such as unusual network activity or malware infections.
  8. Establish incident response plans: Develop a comprehensive plan outlining how your organization will respond to a supply chain cyberattack, including communication protocols and containment procedures.
  9. Collaborate with partners: Work closely with supply chain partners to share threat intelligence, best practices, and lessons learned from past incidents.
  10. Perform regular security audits: Conduct audits of your organization’s security practices and those of your supply chain partners, identifying gaps and areas for improvement.
  11. Keep software and hardware up to date: Ensure all software and hardware used by your organization and supply chain partners is updated and has the latest security patches installed
  12. Implement network segmentation: Divide your organization’s network into smaller segments, limiting the potential impact of a supply chain cyberattack. This helps contain the spread of malware and makes it more difficult for attackers to move laterally within the network.
  13. Establish a vulnerability management program: Create a program to identify, prioritize, and remediate vulnerabilities in your organization’s systems and those of your supply chain partners. Regularly assess and test systems for weaknesses, and apply patches and updates as necessary.
  14. Use threat intelligence: Leverage threat intelligence feeds and platforms to stay informed about the latest threats and vulnerabilities. Sharing this information with your supply chain partners can help everyone stay ahead of emerging risks.
  15. Review and adjust your strategy: Continuously review and adjust your supply chain security strategy based on new threats, changes in your organization’s risk profile, and lessons learned from previous incidents.

Planning an Effective Incident Response Strategy for Supply Chain Cyberattacks

An effective incident response plan is crucial for organizations to mitigate the impact of supply chain cyberattacks and quickly restore normal operations. A well-prepared incident response strategy can minimize damage, reduce recovery time, and help maintain customer trust. In this article, we’ll discuss how to plan an incident response for supply chain cyberattacks and outline the key components to consider when developing your strategy.

Develop an Incident Response Policy

Creating a formal incident response policy should be the first step in planning your response to supply chain cyberattacks. This policy should outline the organization’s objectives, roles, and responsibilities during an incident, as well as the procedures for detection, containment, eradication, and recovery. Make sure your policy aligns with industry standards and best practices, and review it regularly to ensure it remains up to date and relevant.

Establish an Incident Response Team

An incident response team should consist of personnel from various departments within the organization, including IT, legal, public relations, and human resources. This team will be responsible for coordinating and executing the incident response plan. Ensure that team members are trained in their roles and responsibilities and have the necessary expertise to handle supply chain cyberattacks.

Define Incident Classification and Prioritization

Not all incidents are equal in terms of impact and urgency. Develop a classification system for categorizing incidents based on their severity, potential impact, and required response time. This system will help your incident response team prioritize efforts and allocate resources effectively during an incident.

Implement Detection and Analysis Procedures

Your incident response plan should include procedures for detecting and analyzing potential supply chain cyberattacks. Use a combination of automated tools, such as intrusion detection systems and security information and event management (SIEM) solutions, and manual processes, like regular audits and assessments, to identify potential threats and vulnerabilities.

Plan for Containment, Eradication, and Recovery

Once an incident has been detected and analyzed, your incident response team should be prepared to contain the threat, eradicate it from your systems, and recover your operations. Develop detailed procedures for each of these stages, including communication protocols, system isolation, malware removal, and restoring systems from backups.

Develop Communication and Reporting Strategies

Effective communication is essential during a supply chain cyberattack. Establish communication protocols for internal and external communication, including updates to employees, customers, partners, and regulatory authorities. Additionally, create reporting templates to document the incident, the response, and any lessons learned for future improvement.

Continuously Review and Update the Plan

An incident response plan should be a living document that is continuously reviewed and updated. Regularly assess the effectiveness of the plan, incorporating lessons learned from training exercises and real incidents. Stay informed about emerging threats and evolving best practices to ensure your plan remains relevant and effective.


The 3CX supply chain cyberattack serves as a reminder of the importance of safeguarding your organization against these types of threats. By following the recommendations and checklist provided, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to supply chain cyberattacks and strengthen your organization’s overall cybersecurity posture. By fostering a strong cybersecurity culture, engaging in collaborative efforts with supply chain partners, and implementing proactive security measures, you can better protect your organization and maintain the trust of your customers and partners.

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