It’s crucial for businesses to ensure their supply chain cybersecurity protections are up to date; the risks associated with a supply chain attack have never been higher. Supply chain cybersecurity is not solely an IT problem—they are designed to cause disruptions across sourcing, delivery, vendor management, supply chain continuity and quality, transportation, intellectual property, and many other areas.
Due to the introduction of new innovations and big data, businesses are more advanced in technology than ever before. Many of these technological tools are used to expedite workflows and enhance communication among third-party vendors—ensuring supply chain networks are highly interconnected and interwoven.
A report found that 56% of respondents have experienced a cybersecurity attack caused by a third-party supplier. Although efficient, these advancements open the door to potential threats, which can trigger a domino effect that impacts production and worksites. Some of the concerns include risks from:
- Third party service suppliers or vendors with any physical or virtual access to information systems, software codes, Ips, employee data, etc.
- Poor information security practices by lower-tier suppliers.
- Compromised software or hardware purchased from third parties.
- Software security vulnerabilities in supply chain management or supplier systems.
- Counterfeit hardware or hardware with embedded malware.
- Third-party data storage or data aggregators.
How can businesses help prevent a supply chain cybersecurity attack?
1. It’s first important to develop defenses based on the principle that a breach is inevitable. This will prepare businesses if there ever is indeed an attack and create a process to recover from any damages.
2. Vetting third party suppliers can also add an additional layer of protection. Knowing, their capabilities, security and risk management practices, and their background can ensure they’re taking the proper steps to reduce potential risks. A simple supply chain audit can assist with this.
3. Third-party vendor misuse was the second biggest security threat for 2019. Companies must train employees so they have the knowledge and the tools to use the technology appropriately. Security systems will not secure critical data unless supply chain employees and third parties use secure practices.
4. Maintain a physical security presence if data is stored in a physical location. An attacker looking for ways into a physical location might exploit cyber vulnerabilities to get access.
5. Account for teleworkers. With remote work becoming more prevalent, hackers have expanded to telework avenues as well. Additional risks can include:
- Lost or stolen devices and files
- Suppliers downloading sensitive enterprise data without adequate protections
- Introduction of rogue applications files
6. Once a plan is in place, companies should pressure test their systems by performing regular threat assessments. Get into the habit of stress testing your systems and potential for network vulnerabilities to stay protected. Ideally, these assessments should be done twice a year to prepare for and protect against network vulnerabilities.
In a 2019 Deloitte report, 42% of business owner respondents said their company received a cyber risk assessment within the past six months. Although this percentage is high, there’s still room for more than 50% of businesses to step up their supply chain cybersecurity efforts.