What exactly is a supply chain attack and how does it impact your organization? A supply chain attack is a type of cyberattack that targets an organization’s external suppliers and vendors. This can have significant consequences for the organization, such as financial losses, damage to reputation and costly recovery efforts.
The process of identifying and mitigating potential risks to your supply chain is known as cyber supply chain risk management. This includes assessing third-party vendors' security, ensuring that their products and services meet the necessary security standards and putting measures in place to protect against potential cyberattacks.
As we navigate through today's competitive business world, it's essential to understand how to manage cyber supply chain risks. Failing to do so could mean the difference between maintaining order within your daily operations and facing the chaos of ruthless cybercriminals.
Implementation of best practices can go a long way in minimizing the impact of a supply chain attack and can protect your bottom line.
Recommended security practices
Prevention is always better than cure, especially when you are managing data, systems, software and networks. By proactively adopting best practices, it is certainly possible to address supply chain risks. Some of these practices include:
Having a comprehensive cyber defense strategy
This involves taking a proactive and holistic approach to protecting your business from threats that may exist within your supply chain. For that, you need to focus on identifying and assessing potential vulnerabilities, implementing robust security measures to prevent attacks and developing contingency plans in case of a breach.
Conducting regular security awareness training
You must educate all employees about how even a minor mistake on their part could severely compromise security. Since employees are usually the first line of defense against cyberattacks, they must be trained to identify and avoid potential threats, especially when they come from within your supply chain.
Remember that drafting and implementing an effective security awareness training program should not be a one-time affair. It should take place regularly to ensure all stakeholders are on the same page.
Implementing access control
Enabling an access control gateway allows verified users to access your business data, including those in your supply chain, and helps minimize the risk to sensitive data. Both authentication (verifying the user's identity) and authorization (verifying access to specific data) are crucial in implementing a robust access control strategy. Additionally, you can restrict access and permission for third-party programs.
Continuously monitoring for vulnerabilities
Continuously monitoring and reviewing the various elements and activities within your supply chain can help identify and address potential security threats or vulnerabilities before a cybercriminal takes advantage of them. This can be achieved with tools and technologies, such as sensors, tracking systems and real-time data analytics. Continuous monitoring can also help you identify and address any bottlenecks or inefficiencies in your supply chain, leading to improved efficiency and cost savings.
Installing the latest security patches
This practice enhances security by ensuring that all systems and devices are protected against known vulnerabilities and threats.
Usually, software updates that fix bugs and other vulnerabilities that hackers might exploit are included in security patches. By installing these patches promptly, you can help safeguard your business against potential attacks or disruptions and reduce the risk of other negative consequences.
Developing an incident response strategy
An incident response strategy is a plan of action that outlines ways to handle unexpected events or disruptions, including those resulting from a supply chain attack. This strategy helps ensure that your organization is prepared to respond effectively to any potential security breaches or other issues that may arise.
Some components of a supply chain incident response strategy may include identifying potential threats and vulnerabilities, establishing clear communication channels and protocols, and identifying key stakeholders who should be involved in the response process.
Partnering with an IT business service provider
Partnering with an IT business service provider can help reduce supply chain vulnerabilities by providing expert support and guidance in areas such as cybersecurity, data protection and network infrastructure. This can help reduce the risk of data breaches and other cyberthreats and ensure your systems are up to date and secure.
There are many benefits digital transformation has brought to businesses like yours, such as easier inventory management and order processing. However, it does make organizations more vulnerable to cyberattacks and data breaches. A breach occurring anywhere in your supply chain could have severe repercussions for your business. So, how can you protect your business from these threats?
Deploying security solutions within your organization is a good start, but it isn’t enough. Supply chains have grown vast and complex, making it virtually impossible to pinpoint failure points or totally eliminate risks.
It's time to stop thinking of cybersecurity and data protection as merely an IT issue within your organization. It's a problem encompassing people, processes and knowledge/awareness that affects your entire supply chain. As a result, your preventive and corrective measures should consider risks throughout your supply chain.
Make supply chain security a part of governance
Addressing supply chain risks on an ad hoc basis will only create ambiguity and chaos. Instead, make it a part of your security activities and policies. This way, employees will know how to coordinate with third-party organizations and what kind of security activities are necessary.
Take compliance seriously
Organizations must comply with various regulations to avoid weak links in their supply chain. For example, the defense industrial base must comply with the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). There are many other compliance regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA and PCI DSS, for different industries and focus areas.
Organizations usually have to undergo detailed assessments, produce different reports and documentation, and implement best practices to prove and maintain compliance. By making compliance with these regulations mandatory for your vendors, you can ensure your organization meets all the requirements.
Complying with applicable regulations is crucial. It will not only improve your cybersecurity and data protection but also ensure that everyone on your team follows the same standards. These regulations are often updated, so it's necessary to keep up with the latest industry standards.
Deploy comprehensive and layered security systems
It's nearly impossible to predict threats when you have multiple third-party vendors. There are too many possible attack vectors. That's why comprehensive, layered security is essential.
Layered security is a more holistic approach that protects each layer of your IT infrastructure with a different solution or method. So, even if one solution fails, you have others in place to fill the void.
Layered security, of course, is only as good as the people who maintain it. That is why your employees must be trained and tested on a regular basis. They need to be able to identify potential threats and take appropriate action.
Adopt and enforce international IT and data security standards
Because modern supply chains are so interconnected, you must interact and collaborate with your vendors. This means vast amounts of data are exchanged, including sensitive customer information such as medical records, Personal Identifiable Information and financial data. Such data must be stored securely (with continuous monitoring and real-time alerting) and only have regulated access.
But how do you guarantee this? By adopting and enforcing international IT and data security standards such as GDPR and HIPAA. These standards ensure organizations keep track of the sensitive data they acquire, are able to produce thorough documentation when challenged, and have implemented adequate measures to secure data. Besides that, when selecting a software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendor, you should find out if they are SOC 2 or ISO27001 compliant. This indicates that the vendor is securing information as per industry standards.
The best way forward
With supply chains becoming smarter and more interconnected, now is the time to identify and secure weak links in your supply chain. This requires a lot of dedicated time and effort, so don’t worry if you don’t have the time or resources to do this on your own. An IT service provider like us can help.
We can help deploy layered security and secure your data while maintaining compliance with regulations. Feel free to reach out to us for a consultation.
Still not convinced there are Supply Chain Risks in your workplace?
Supply chain attacks are a primary concern for businesses nowadays. With technology becoming increasingly advanced, businesses like yours must ensure there are no vulnerabilities in the supply chain.
By being aware of these misconceptions and taking proactive steps to tackle them, you can help protect your business and customers from the risks posed by your supply chain network.
Keep an eye out for these misconceptions
Supply chain attacks only pose a risk to large corporations, and smaller businesses don’t need to be concerned.
Supply chain attacks pose a severe threat to businesses of all sizes — not just large enterprises with significantly valuable assets. Most supply chain attacks involve hackers infiltrating a single supplier in the supply chain and impacting multiple businesses, including smaller ones.
In fact, smaller companies may be more vulnerable to these attacks due to limited resources for securing their systems. Even if a small business lacks large amounts of valuable data, it can serve as an entry point for hackers targeting larger organizations with which it collaborates. Businesses of all sizes must prioritize supply chain security to protect against these deceptive attacks.
Standard cyber defenses are enough to protect against supply chain attacks.
Supply chain attacks frequently target the trust between an organization and its suppliers. It’s easier for attackers to gain access to sensitive information or systems by exploiting the trust factor. These attacks can be challenging to protect against, and standard security measures may not be adequate.
Organizations must implement comprehensive risk management strategies that consider the unique challenges posed by these types of threats to defend against them. This may include measures such as regularly reviewing and updating supplier agreements, implementing robust security protocols and conducting regular assessments of all suppliers' security posture.
Vendors and suppliers have security measures in place to protect their systems and data.
While some of your vendors and suppliers may have measures in place, it's not enough to blindly assume that they have everything under control. You can't know what security practices and policies are in place unless you have a thorough and consistent vetting process.
Keep in mind that when it comes to supply chain risk management, the vulnerabilities within your supply chain network can directly impact your business and its bottom line. For example, if one of your suppliers experiences a data breach, it could have severe consequences for your organization.
That's why it's crucial to understand the security measures that your vendors and suppliers have in place. Don't leave your security to chance — thoroughly vet your supply chain to ensure a secure network.
Collaborate for success
If you’re not sure how to protect your supply chain without taking more time away from your packed schedule, don’t worry. Working with an IT service provider like us can help protect your business from supply chain misconceptions and risks.
From protecting against supply chain attacks and implementing comprehensive risk management strategies to thoroughly vetting your supply chain network, we can provide the expertise and resources necessary to ensure the security of your business.