ChannelLife New Zealand logo
Industry insider news for New Zealand's technology resellers
Partner content
Story image

The path to bolstering supply chain security in New Zealand

By Mitchell Hageman
Fri 27 May 2022

A significant amount of today's business and leisure activity relies on IT supply chains. From complex international freight trades to local small business distribution channels, any supply chain that involves IT infrastructure serves as a crucial tool in our daily lives. 

A supply chain's efficiency and safety can often mean the difference between a successful or failed endeavour, so it's crucial that they are maintained with the highest degree of security. Supply chain also relates closely to critical infrastructure, often making issues and threats a matter of national security.

When a supply chain's technology is attacked or breached, it can lead to severe consequences for businesses and their customers. The 2020 attack on SolarWinds' supply chain and the 2019 ASUS Trojan attack impacted businesses around the world, a stark warning to those that were unprepared.

Aotearoa is a country that heavily markets itself on efficient trading and supply chains in various sectors, especially in our agricultural and dairy industries. Many companies in these sectors use IT infrastructure that, if not secure, has the potential to cause widespread damage in an operational and a reputational sense.

A 2021 global survey by machine identity management provider Venafi revealed that there is a widespread concern among businesses worldwide that supply chain security is not as prioritised as it should be. It revealed executives were concerned about their vulnerability to software supply chain attacks and aware that action should be taken.

97% of executives believed that software providers needed to improve the security of their software build and code signing processes for supply chains, while 96% of executives thought that software providers should be required to guarantee the integrity of the code in their software updates.

There were also conflicting thoughts on where responsibility lay when it came to protecting a supply chain, with 48% of respondents saying IT security teams are responsible and 46% saying development teams are responsible.

"Executives are right to be concerned about the impact of supply chain attacks," remarked Venafi vice president of security strategy and threat intelligence Kevin Bocek in a statement.

"These attacks present serious risks to every organisation that uses commercial software and are extremely difficult to defend against."

The SolarWinds attack was a game-changer

From as early as September 2019, threat actors could gain unauthorised access to SolarWinds network. Over a period of six months, they started to create malicious code known as SUNBURST and injected it into the company's Orion software, which was being rolled out in March. When the compromised software was unknowingly sent out, it was initially believed that 18,000 SolarWinds customers were affected, including nine US federal agencies. The company later announced the actual number of customers who were hacked through SUNBURST to be fewer than 100.

Many experts believed that this breach was a wake-up call for industries and stressed the importance of bolstering cybersecurity practices in all business aspects.

Bocek remarked that the Venafi research highlighted that, "the entire technology industry needs to change the way we build and buy software."

He said there needed to be a company-wide approach to addressing supply chain security, which sometimes requires significant structural change within an enterprise and its dealings.

"Executives can't treat this as just another technical problem - it's an existential threat. C-level executives and boards need to demand that security and development teams for software vendors provide clear assurance about the security of their software."

On the home front

Aotearoa has never been immune to supply chain attacks, and 2021 saw a worrying increase in the number and scale seen here.

In an August 2021 NCSC release, Director of the GCSB's National Cyber Security Centre Lisa Fong stressed the fact that many businesses in New Zealand had been affected.

"Major incidents like last year's global distributed denial of service (DDoS) campaign which significantly impacted a range of New Zealand organisations, and the compromise of file transfer software used by the Reserve Bank, reinforce the critical importance of supply chain cybersecurity."

In response to the increased threats, the NCSC released the "Supply Chain Cyber Security: In Safe Hands" report. This report details a number of key supply chain security issues and compromises to NZ enterprises and gives advice and recommendations to help prevent future compromises.

The report says that as organisations continue to focus on strengthening their own cyber security, their exposure to cyber threats in the supply chain is increasingly becoming the weakest point in their defences. The report highlights that there are three key steps businesses and personnel should take to bolster supply chain security:

Identify: This involves understanding critical suppliers in a business and also understanding which key assets and services are most vulnerable to threats in a supply chain.

Assess: This is where enterprises should look for vulnerabilities in supply chain infrastructure and allocate resources to increase the cyber security resilience of critical areas.

Manage: Companies should look to manage supply chain risk through a programme of monitoring, cyber security performance assessment, and integration of supply chain risk into organisational risk management frameworks.

Lisa Fong says NCSC research has shown that businesses in Aotearoa are struggling to implement and ensure secure systems for supply chains.

"When the NCSC surveyed 250 of New Zealand's nationally significant organisations we identified that while 72% of organisations used some type of managed service provider, 36% of those had no mechanisms in place to confirm whether their vendor is delivering on the agreed level of IT security."

She says that the NCSC plays a significant role in helping organisations by providing advice, support and assistance when dealing with matters of national security and compromised supply chains.

"Some of the most recent high profile supply chain security issues are the SolarWinds Orion compromise, which New Zealand and our international partners have attributed to Russian State actors, and the exploitation of vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange that has been attributed to Chinese state actors," she says.

"The NCSC provided direct support to New Zealand organisations that were affected by this malicious cyber activity. In these instances, the NCSC worked with international cyber security partners to publish advice to our customers alerting them to the issues and setting out a range of mitigations."

Fong says that earlier this month, the NCSC worked with partners on an advisory to highlight potential vulnerabilities associated with the use of Managed Service Providers (MSPs).

"The advisory focuses on enabling transparent discussions between MSPs and their customers on securing sensitive data. The advisory provides several actions that organisations can take to reduce their risk of becoming a victim to malicious cyber activity."

Fong also says it's important for businesses to gauge the full scale of risk and not just limit supply chain security to IT and procurement.

"Digital interactions with supply chain elements can occur across many aspects of an organisation's operation, not just IT or procurement teams. For example, a marketing department might use a third-party service to store a customer information database in the cloud."

The "In Safe Hands" report ends by recognising that human factors are vital in supply chain security, not just technology alone. It also says that constant, incremental improvements will efficiently strengthen security procedures and ultimately provide better outcomes for all involved.

Fong says the NCSC actively promote and assist with Aotearoa's supply chain security so that businesses can be at their best.

"Our engagement extends to hundreds of organisations across government, key economic generators, niche exporters, research institutions and operators of critical national infrastructure."

Public Interest Journalism Fund logo
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.
Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Bitdefender, Cohesity, Fortinet & MODIFI
We round up all job appointments from June 27-30, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Financial results
Margins & revenues up at New Zealand arm of Acer Computer
We look at the local financial statements of Taiwanese manufacturer Acer Computer Inc.
Story image
Robotics
Evonik relies on Getac F110 tablet to control autonomous robot
The aim of the project is to evaluate the practicality of an automated robotic maintenance and inspection solution in the chemical industry.
Story image
Design
Hands-on review: Phillips Hue starter kit
The set-up was one of the simplest I have ever had to do. It is also where the products shine. I was able to connect the bridge, the three lightbulbs and the strip within 10 min.
Story image
Identity and Access Management
Ping Identity named a Leader in Access Management
Ping Identity has been named a leader in the 2022 KuppingerCole Leadership Compass report for Access Management. 
Story image
Cyber Criminal
Identity and access: the fight is on
Blue team defenders are used to protecting our data, applications, and users with access controls and other security mechanisms, which is why attacks like this are especially challenging when they target identity and access control systems.
Story image
Cybersecurity
FIDO Alliance releases guidelines for optimising UX with FIDO Security Keys
The new guidelines aim to accelerate multi-factor authentication deployment and adoption with FIDO security keys.
Story image
Salesforce
Data crucial to capture shoppers' wallets post-COVID
First-party data strategies key to driving personalisation, customer satisfaction, and long-lasting relationships according to a new report.
Story image
Microsoft
TO THE NEW unveils A/NZ Managed Services for Microsoft Azure
TO THE NEW has released Managed Services for Microsoft Azure to meet the growing demand in the A/NZ market and globally.
Story image
Infrastructure
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure expands distributed cloud services
“Distributed cloud is the next evolution of cloud computing, and provides customers with more flexibility and control in how they deploy cloud resources."
Story image
Microsoft
SAS wins Microsoft ISV 2022 Partner of the Year award
"We formed the SAS and Microsoft strategic partnership with a shared goal of making it easier for customers to drive better decisions in the cloud."
Story image
Awards
Microsoft names A/NZ Partner of the Year award winners
The awards recognise partners across the globe for their innovative use of Microsoft technologies to help customers succeed.
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: 16GB PNY XLR8 Gaming EPIC-X 3600MHz DDR4
PNY sent over its 16GB XLR8 Gaming EPIC-X 3600MHz CL16 DDR4 module kit for testing. The kit contains two 8GB dual-channel modules with RGB lighting.
Story image
Sustainability
Honeywell launches new carbon energy management software for buildings
The new Carbon & Energy Management service allows building owners to track and optimise energy performance against carbon reduction goals, down to a device or asset level.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Why is NZ lagging behind the world in cybersecurity?
A recent report by TUANZ has revealed that we are ranked 56th in the world when it comes to cybersecurity - a look into why we're so behind and what needs to be done.
Story image
Web Development
Whitecliffe fosters careers for the future of tech
Do you want a career in Information Technology, Networking, Web Development, Software Development, or are you looking to upskill?
Story image
Samsung
Monitors are an excellent incentive for getting employees back
The pandemic has taught us that hybrid working is a lot easier than we would’ve thought, so how can the office be made to feel as comfortable as home? The answer could be staring you in the face right now.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Email threats spike 101%, remains a top attack vector
"Each year we see innovation in the threat landscape, but each year email remains a major threat to organisations."
Story image
Revenue
Datacom announces revenue of $1.45 billion, fall in profit
Growing market pressures and border closures saw Datacom place increased focus on talent development initiatives for both existing and future employees.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Vulnerable APIs costing businesses billions every year
Large companies are particularly vulnerable to the security risks associated with exposed or unprotected APIs as they accelerate digital transformation.  
Story image
Microsoft
ASI Solutions named finalist of Microsoft Surface Partner of the Year
"ASI Solutions has a strong Microsoft focus, building value by helping customers maximise investment in modern workplace solutions."
Story image
Cryptocurrency
NOWPayments launches new service to analyse cryptocurrency fees
NOWPayments has launched a new network fee optimisation solution that analyses current network fees and picks the most profitable option out of the client's payout wallets.
Story image
Mergers and Acquisitions
SAS acquires Kamakura to propel risk technology innovation
Underscoring SAS growth in the domain-specific solutions space, the acquisition will enable SAS to greatly enhance the breadth of its risk solutions portfolio. 
Story image
Entelar
How TruSens air purifiers can create healthier workspaces
The pandemic has heightened our awareness of our own and others’ health, and made us all much more conscious of the environments we work in.
Story image
Data
MYOB improves data visibility and user access with Snowflake
"Solutions such as Snowflake allow us to better understand our customers and make evidence-based decisions on what features work best for them."
Story image
Great Resignation
New SAP study uncovers impact of 'the great resignation'
Coined in 2021, the phrase 'the great resignation' refers to millions of employees globally leaving their jobs. The phenomenon is real and impacting SMEs.
Story image
Dark web
Cybercrime in Aotearoa: How does New Zealand law define it?
‘Cybercrime’ is a term we hear all the time, but what exactly is it, and how does New Zealand define it in legal terms?
Story image
Hybrid Cloud
HPE GreenLake advances hybrid cloud experience with new services
"The innovations unveiled today further build on our vision to provide the market with an unmatched platform to spur innovation and drive transformation.”
Story image
Cybersecurity
Blasé attitudes to cybersecurity by business a national risk
The largely unregulated state of cybersecurity in NZ, and consequential ambivalence of most businesses, risk hurting the country's trading prospects.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Tech and data’s role in the changing face of compliance
Accenture's study found that 93% of respondents agree or strongly agree new technologies such as AI and cloud make compliance easier.
Story image
Citrix
The best ways to attract young talent during labour shortages
New research from Citrix reveals hybrid working and ventures into the metaverse are top of mind for Gen Z workers.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zero trust security adoption rises 27% in just two years
A survey of WAN managers has revealed that multi-factor authentication and single sign-on are the top zero trust features implemented.
Story image
Microsoft
Digital innovation could shape the future of NZ - Microsoft
With cloud technologies available to more people around the world than ever before, it is not only businesses who will benefit from using them.
Story image
Internet of Things
ManageEngine wins big in IDC MarketScape assessment
ManageEngine's Endpoint Central service has been recognised as a leader by IDC MarketScape in several categories including Internet of Things device deployments and UEM software for SMEs.
Story image
Christchurch
Enable launches free Wi-Fi in Christchurch city centre
Fibre broadband provider, Enable, and the Christchurch City Council have launched their new Christchurch Free Wi-Fi service in the central city. 
Story image
New Relic
New Relic looks to observability market with new partner programme
New Relic has announced the availability of New Relic Partner Stack, an enhanced programme expanding New Relic’s commitment to partners.
Story image
Ransomware
Secureworks reveals new information on BRONZE STARLIGHT threat group
New research from Secureworks has uncovered new information on the Chinese threat group BRONZE STARLIGHT and how they are using targeted ransomware to initiate complicated attacks.
Story image
Electrical
Up to $2.4 million shortfall in the collapse of IndeServe
We delve into the liquidators first report on long-standing networking service provider IndeServes collapse.
Story image
Public Cloud
Public cloud services revenues top $400 billion in 2021
"For the next several years, leading cloud providers will play a critical role in helping enterprises navigate the current storms of disruption."
Story image
BitTitan
How to achieve your monthly recurring revenue goals
Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) is the ultimate goal, the most important issue on which anyone in the IT channel should focus.
Story image
Hybrid workforce
Why hybrid working is here to stay and how to ace it
Citrix's new report reveals hybrid workers are more productive and engaged at work than their office and completely remote counterparts.
Story image
WatchGuard Technologies
Ransomware volume doubled 2021 total by end of Q1 2022
Ransomware detections in the first quarter of this year doubled the total volume reported for 2021, according to a new report. 
Story image
Dicker Data
EXCLUSIVE: Why women in IT makes good business sense - Dicker Data
The Federal government wants to bolster female participation in the tech industry to at least 40% by 2030. Here's how one homegrown Australian company has already reached that goal.
Story image
Review
Hands-on review – CleanMyMac X utility for macOS
We get hands-on with a useful utility that macOS users never thought they needed but probably do.