IT Brief New Zealand logo
Technology news for New Zealand's largest enterprises
Story image

New Zealand – let’s get your IT supply chain secured!

By Contributor
Mon 17 Jan 2022

Article by Lateral Security, IT security advisory consultant, Jan Klinkner.

Attacks via the IT supply chain are steadily increasing over recent years. Annual cyber reports in 2020 stated up to 40% of breaches originate from weak IT supply chains. Prominent incidents lately, with hits against SolarWinds and Kaseya, have gained a lot of attention and served as a wake-up call for many who have not yet paid much attention to this control area.

Interestingly, although the dependence on third party providers is constantly growing, this area still appears to be a blind spot for many organisations and individuals.

What is an IT supply chain?

Since it is nearly impossible to create, run, and produce everything in-house, having a supply chain that integrates third-party products and services into the own production and service delivery, is widespread. 

Accordingly, an IT supply chain is the integration of IT services and products delivered by external providers. This can occur in different ways, including hardware, software, IT support, managed or cloud services.

As IT is an essential part of nearly every business nowadays, the IT supply chain has become a self-evident part of most companies' BAU. Maybe too self-evident - since understanding and treating IT as a proper mean of production is not necessarily a common practice. And while quality assurance has long been established on the traditional supply chain, the identification, acquisition, and consumption of IT products and services often still appears more like a gut's driven boxing day shopping trip.

What risks lurk in the IT supply chain?

Caring about the IT supply chain is not only a business issue. It concerns almost everyone who has some piece of IT and relies on it to complete important tasks in daily life. An obvious example is everyone's private smartphone. It commonly enables essential activities like communication, banking, payments, trading, smart home management, navigation, entertainment, scheduling, and notifications. As such, losing one's smartphone for a few days would potentially create serious issues for many people.

For businesses, the matter is usually more complex. It, of course, depends on a lot of factors, including what kind of business it concerns and how extensive the integration of and dependency on third-party IT products and services is. 

On reflection, it is not surprising that assessing risks in this context is complex and requires various, comprehensive, and detailed considerations. It is essential to understand where and how much a third-party IT service or product is involved in a certain business context and what negative impact their failure can have on affected business processes and information associated with it, and the business overall. Worst case, life and existence might be lying in IT suppliers' hands.

It is also worth considering the unique situation and geolocation of New Zealand and the global and domestic market of available IT services and products. No question, there are capable local Kiwi IT suppliers and (cloud) service providers, and numerous international brands have offices and branches in New Zealand too. However, by far the biggest share of IT vendors, suppliers, and providers are based overseas, and their product and service provision often occurs from offshore. Keeping this in mind, aspects like data sovereignty and the consideration of specific legislative and political risks come into play.

Additionally, regarding IT supply chain risks, it is important to understand the following fact: You can outsource IT services and functions, but you cannot outsource responsibilities for related risks. You will ultimately remain in charge of all failures in your IT supply chain.

Hence it is imperative to take ownership of this matter. Be prepared, identify, understand, manage, and appropriately treat IT supply chain risks end-to-end, like any other relevant business risk.

What can Kiwis do to secure their IT supply chain?

It is always good to start with asking the right questions, understanding the current situation, and then taking appropriate actions in both personal and business contexts.

When choosing a personal smartphone, some driving questions might be: Is it trendy? Is it functional? Is it cheap? However, since the importance of a smartphone for many people's daily lives is evident, it is worth asking a few more specific questions here and making some further considerations to ensure the device comes with certain reliability. For example: Can the manufacturer and the device be trusted? What is their reputation? What are their terms and conditions and their privacy policy? 

With these types of questions, an informed decision can be made while choosing a phone.

In a business context, the general line of thinking and approaching the issue is comparable but might require more structure and diligence. For example, the acquisition of IT services and products are predominantly driven by business, operational and functional considerations – while security considerations often come short in this process.

Establishing a secure IT supply chain is by no means a simple one-off task, rather an ongoing process. Start with implementing some initial checkpoints and measures which can already achieve improvements with reasonably low effort. And then successively add further safeguards and controls to bring a comprehensive, reliable, and sustainable supply chain security assurance process into effect.

Such a stepwise approach can be structured as follows:

1. Understand your IT supply chain

  • Identify and record all IT suppliers involved in your business and integrated in your service and product delivery. Consider including suppliers of your suppliers.
  • Identify if, where and to what extent these suppliers, and their IT products and services, may introduce risks to your business and create a register of identified risks.

2) Treat your supply chain risks

  • Define a set of baseline controls and measures, e.g. in the form of IT supplier security management policy, that are applicable for IT suppliers and providers you engage with.
  • Include your security requirements in IT service agreements with third parties.
  • Assess identified IT supplier-related risks and oblige vendors to apply remediation where assessed risk postures do not meet your expectations.

3) Measure and manage your IT supply chain security posture

  • Establish a process to continuously manage IT supplier-related risks, including regular reviews and reassessments.
  • Oblige your IT suppliers to provide independent IT security assurance reviews and attestations.
  • Establish a process of monitoring and reporting of IT suppliers' security performance based on defined security KPIs reflecting your baseline security expectations.
  • Make sure you have an exit strategy to be prepared for a switch of provider, where this becomes necessary.

Concluding with some good news

No one needs to reinvent the wheel here, of course. There are many guidelines and templates available in the public domain (e.g. see CERT NZ or PSR websites). Most of them are helpful, and it is always reasonable to shop around, compare and collect what is most suitable for the own context. Please make good use of it!

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Cybersecurity prompts upgrade for 1.3 billion electricity meters
ABI Research finds Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and cybersecurity concerns are prompting the upgrade of 1.3 billion electricity meters by 2027.
Story image
Women in Technology
Huawei webinar emphasises the importance of women in tech
Industry findings by Coursera discussed as part of a webinar jointly organised by Huawei and Reuters Events found 6% more women enrolled in tech courses this year than in 2021.
Story image
SPS network now available to CrescoData eCommerce customers
CrescoData, a Pitney Bowes Company and PaaS business in the commerce space, says its customers can now connect to the SPS Commerce Retail Network.
Story image
Digital Marketing
Similarweb acquires SEO and rank tracking company Rank Ranger
Digital intelligence company Similarweb, which specialises in analysing web traffic, has acquired Rank Ranger, a market leader in SEO and rank tracking.
Story image
Digital Transformation
The Huawei APAC conference kicks off with digital transformation
More than 1500 people from across APAC have gathered for the Huawei APAC Digital Innovation Congress to explore the future of digital innovation.
Story image
Alarming surge in Conti Ransomware Group activity - report
A new report has identified a 7.6 per cent increase in the number of vulnerabilities tied to ransomware in Q1 2022.
Story image
Lightspeed launches all-in-one marketing platform in A/NZ
ECommerce provider, Lightspeed has launched a new all-in-one marketing solution, Lightspeed Marketing & Loyalty in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
SAS announces new products amid cloud portfolio success
Analytics and AI company SAS is deepening its broad industry portfolio with offerings that support life sciences, energy, and martech.
Story image
ChildFund launches new campaign to protect children online
ChildFund says WEB Safe & Wise aims to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse online while also empowering them to become digitally savvy. 
Story image
Supply chain
Jetstack promotes better security with supply chain toolkit
The web-based resource is designed to help organisations evaluate and plan the crucial steps they need to establish effective software supply chain security.
Story image
Trojan cyber attacks hitting SMBs harder than ever - Kaspersky
In 2022 the number of Trojan-PSW detections increased by almost a quarter compared to the same period in 2021 to reach 4,003,323.
Booster Innovation Fund. A fund of Kiwi ingenuity – for Kiwi investors.
Link image
Story image
Cybersecurity starts with education
In 2021, 80% of Australian organisations responding to the Sophos State of Ransomware study reported being hit by ransomware. 
Story image
Equinix announces milestones on sustainability commitments
Equinix has released its 2021 Sustainability Report which outlines progress, innovation and accomplishments on key ESG commitments.
Story image
Customer experience
Gartner recognises Okta for abilities in Access Management
Okta has announced it has been recognised as a Customers' Choice for the fourth time in a row in the Gartner Peer Insights "Voice of the Customer" report.
Story image
Data Protection
Barracuda launches new capabilities for API Protection
"Every business needs this type of critical protection against API vulnerabilities and automated bot attacks," Barracuda says.
Story image
Comcast to use ThreatQuotient for cybersecurity operations
Comcast, the parent company of NBC Universal and SKY Group, has chosen ThreatQ Platform and ThreatQ Investigations to meet their cybersecurity needs.
Story image
More than 40% of banks worried about cloud security - report
Publicis Sapient's new report finds security and the lack of cloud skills and internal understanding of business benefits are big obstacles for banks moving to the cloud.
Story image
Data backup plans inadequate, data still at risk - study
The Apricorn 2022 Global IT Security Survey revealed that while the majority organisations have data backup plans in place, data for many are at risk.
Story image
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Could your Excel practices be harming your business?
While Excel has been the de-facto standard for budgeting, planning, and forecasting, is it alone, enough to support organisations in the global marketplace that’s facing rapid changes due to digital transformation?
Story image
New vulnerabilities found in Nuspire’s Q1 2022 Threat Report
“Threat actors are quickly adjusting their tactics and these exploits tend to get industry attention, but the threat posed by older and attacks still persists."
Story image
Data Center
Preventing downtime costs and damage with Distributed Infrastructure Management
Distributed Infrastructure Management (DIM) can often be a lifeline for many enterprises that work with highly critical ICT infrastructure and power sources.
Story image
Digital Transformation
The impact of COVID-19 on healthcare environments and care delivery
The COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionised the healthcare industry while overcoming staff shortages, social distancing requirements, and lockdowns.
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
RedShield leverages AWS to scale cybersecurity services
"Working with AWS gives RedShield the ability to mitigate significant application layer DDoS attacks, helping leaders adopt best practices and security architectures."
Story image
Fastly acquires Glitch, enables faster developer innovation
"This acquisition brings together two of the worlds best ecosystems for application development into a single, seamless developer experience."
Story image
Legrand unveils Nexpand, a data center cabinet platform
Legrand has unveiled a new data center cabinet platform, Nexpand, to offer the necessary scalability and future-proof architecture for digital transformation.
Story image
Wireless Nation
Wireless Nation, N4L provide 4G network to remote NZ schools
Wireless Nation and Network for Learning (N4L) have rolled out the Rural Connectivity Group’s (RCG) new 4G network to better connect three Chatham Islands schools.
For every 10PB of storage run on HyperDrive vs. comparable alternatives, an estimated 6,656 tonnes of CO₂ are saved by reduced energy consumption alone over its lifespan. That’s the equivalent of taking nearly 1,500 cars off the road for a year.
Link image
Story image
NCSC advisory highlights poor security configurations
The GCSB's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has released a cyber security advisory identifying commonly exploited controls and practices.
Story image
Maintaining secure systems with expectations of flexible work
Most office workers feel they've proved they can work successfully from home, and as much as employers try, things aren't going back to the way they were anytime soon.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
How to ensure ethical deployment of AI implementations
The increase in automation and machine technology such as AI and machine learning has unlocked a whole new level of scale and service to organisations. 
Threat actors are exploiting weaknesses in interconnected IT/OT ecosystems. Darktrace illuminates your entire business and takes targeted action to stop emerging attacks.
Link image
Story image
Digital Transformation
Trading up: It's time to swap core systems for flexible digital applications
This year will see more oranisations planning and commencing high tech renovations that will shake up the way they operate.
Story image
Silver Peak
The path to an adaptive, modern network
Managing and securing the network looks different than it did just two years ago—especially given that most of these networks are made up of multi-generations of infrastructure stitched together over time.
Story image
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
A10 Networks finds over 15 million DDoS weapons in 2021
A10 Networks notes that in the 2H 2021 reporting period, its security research team tracked more than 15.4 million Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) weapons.
Story image
Data and analytics could be key to higher selling prices in APAC
Sisense's latest report has found that almost half of data professionals in APAC think customised data and analytics can create better selling prices for their products.
Story image
Cloud Security
Aqua Security createa unified scanner for cloud native security
“By integrating more cloud native scanning targets into Trivy, such as Kubernetes, we are simplifying cloud native security."
Story image
New Relic enters multi-year partnership with Microsoft Azure
New Relic has announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to help enterprises accelerate cloud migration and multi-cloud initiatives. 
Story image
Remote Working
Successful digital transformation in the hybrid work era is about embracing shifting goalposts
As organisations embraced remote working, many discovered they lacked the infrastructure needed to support history’s first global load test of remote work capabilities.
Story image
Application Security
What are the DDoS attack trend predictions for 2022?
Mitigation and recovery are vital to ensuring brand reputation remains solid in the face of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and that business growth and innovation can continue.
Find out how a behavioural analytics-driven approach can transform security operations with the new Exabeam commissioned Forrester study.
Link image
Story image
New Relic
New Relic launches vulnerability management platform
New Relic has introduced New Relic Vulnerability Management to help organisations find and address security risks faster and with greater precision.