Supply Chain Compromise

Supply chain compromise is the manipulation of products or product delivery mechanisms prior to receipt by a final consumer for the purpose of data or system compromise. Supply chain compromise can take place at any stage of the supply chain including:

  • Manipulation of development tools
  • Manipulation of a development environment
  • Manipulation of source code repositories (public or private)
  • Manipulation of software update/distribution mechanisms
  • Compromised/infected system images (multiple cases of removable media infected at the factory)
  • Replacement of legitimate software with modified versions
  • Sales of modified/counterfeit products to legitimate distributors
  • Shipment interdiction

While supply chain compromise can impact any component of hardware or software, attackers looking to gain execution have often focused on malicious additions to legitimate software in software distribution or update channels. [1] [2] [3] Targeting may be specific to a desired victim set [4] or malicious software may be distributed to a broad set of consumers but only move on to additional tactics on specific victims. [1] [3]

ID: T1195

Tactic: Initial Access

Platform:  Linux, Windows, macOS

Data Sources:  Web proxy, File monitoring

Version: 1.0



CCBkdr was added to a legitimate, signed version 5.33 of the CCleaner software and distributed on CCleaner's distribution site.[5][6][1]


Elderwood has targeted manufacturers in the supply chain for the defense industry.[4]

Smoke Loader

Smoke Loader was distributed through a compromised update to a Tor client with a coin miner payload.[2]


Apply supply chain risk management (SCRM) practices and procedures [7], such as supply chain analysis and appropriate risk management, throughout the life-cycle of a system.

Leverage established software development lifecycle (SDLC) practices [8]:

  • Uniquely Identify Supply Chain Elements, Processes, and Actors
  • Limit Access and Exposure within the Supply Chain
  • Establish and Maintain the Provenance of Elements, Processes, Tools, and Data
  • Share Information within Strict Limits
  • Perform SCRM Awareness and Training
  • Use Defensive Design for Systems, Elements, and Processes
  • Perform Continuous Integrator Review
  • Strengthen Delivery Mechanisms
  • Assure Sustainment Activities and Processes
  • Manage Disposal and Final Disposition Activities throughout the System or Element Life Cycle


Use verification of distributed binaries through hash checking or other integrity checking mechanisms. Scan downloads for malicious signatures and attempt to test software and updates prior to deployment while taking note of potential suspicious activity. Perform physical inspection of hardware to look for potential tampering.