Look before you leap
M&A executives view cyber threats as specifically focused, pre-meditated attacks by a bad operator towards a buying or selling company, or both, with an explicit goal.
As soon as an M&A deal is made public, hackers start testing the security perimeters and wait till “chinks in the armor” are revealed. During Day 1 and post-merger integration, cyber vulnerability heightens, as employees increase their activity over the network and infrastructure to ensure the operational success of the deal. Bad actors use technologically sophisticated approaches and deepfake identity theft to access confidential personal and financial information, proprietary IP, new product schematics – all of which can be sold on the virtually untraceable dark web.
Fraudsters may encrypt servers through malware and lock them in for ransom or may co-opt the use of the buyer or seller’s network storage, bandwidth, and computing resources to carry out illegal activities.
While during integration the overall security perimeter of the combining entities shifts, creating potential gaps for unauthorized entry, the greatest compromises come from undocumented “backdoors” such as an unpatched system, a networked legacy device, or even a forgotten or unmonitored web portal.
Supply chain management is another area prone to cyberattacks as it involves tens of thousands of system interfaces internally and externally. Each system interface potentially offers intruders an opportunity to disrupt or illegally gain from the misuse of the buyer’s and/or the seller’s data, intellectual property, payments, and more.