How secure is your supply chain?

Broken chain

Supply chains are fast becoming one of the top targets for cyber criminals, so when it comes to supply chain risk management, organizations in every industry need to start paying more attention.

While the vast majority of business leaders recognize that cybersecurity is now a key priority, the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) recently noted that in too many instances, actions aren’t keeping up with intentions. In fact, nearly a third of UK companies admitted they aren’t currently taking any preventative action at all.  

What is Supply Chain Risk Management?

Supply chain risk management is the process of understanding and mitigating risk throughout an organization's supply chain. It can be a complex process, particularly when an organization’s full network of third party vendors (and their third party vendors) is factored in.

In a cybersecurity context, it’s not about trucks and ships, but the digital connections that link an organization to its service providers and the potential risks posed. While digital supply chain risk is nothing new, growing emphasis on digital transformation and the risk of a breach cascading through an entire organizational network has seen it rapidly rise up the corporate agenda.

Why are Supply Chains Coming Under Increasing Attack?

Broadly speaking, cyber criminals are interested in supply chain attacks for three main reasons. First, the systems involved often control millions of pounds worth of payments and shipped goods, making them highly lucrative targets. Second, a single breach can potentially open the door to core systems elsewhere on the network, including core systems and customer databases. Finally, the systems that communicate with partners are internet-exposed, making them targets.

To illustrate the extent of this growing issue, Gartner recently predicted that 45 percent of organizations worldwide will have experienced attacks on their software supply chains by 2025, a three-fold increase from 2021.

How can Organizations Bolster Their Supply Chain Security?

As with many cyber-attacks, the most common supply chain threat vectors are unsecured connections and the unencrypted data that flows between companies. Limited understanding and control over data can also put an organization at risk.

Fortunately, these relatively common threat vectors mean the same principles used to protect other IT infrastructure can also be applied to supply chain technology. These include regular patching, use of secure protocols, ensuring strong user credentials and constant network monitoring. Another effective approach is to adopt a robust Managed File Transfer (MFT) solution, which enables organizations to centralize, secure and automate data exchanges between themselves and their trading partners/providers. Doing so not only helps security teams to better understand the data and connections to third parties, but also facilitate auditing and reporting, as well as restrict users as needed, keeping sensitive data safe.

Cyber-attacks on supply chains are growing at an alarming rate, but fortunately there’s a range of effective defense measures available to organizations with the foresight to use them. As with all things cybersecurity-related, a little bit of strategic planning goes a long way, so don’t wait to become the next victim.

Chris Spargen is Sr. Manager, Solutions Engineering, HelpSystems

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