In the current supply chain industry, two of the major trends that are keeping business leaders on their toes are the covid-19 pandemic induced acceleration of digital transformation and increasing supply chain complexity. These changes have made supply chains vulnerable resulting in a significant increase in cybersecurity threats.
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2021 Data Breach Report, 2021 was a record-breaking year for cybersecurity breaches. The year recorded ~1800 breaches, surpassing the previous record of ~1500 set in 2017.
As the threat level increases, supply chain managers need to focus on improving their supply chain cybersecurity to make it more secure and resilient.
This article highlights 3 ways supply chain managers can improve their cybersecurity to overcome current and future threats.
1. Set and upgrade a minimum security baseline
One of the major reasons for the surge in cybersecurity threats was the rush for companies to adopt digital solutions, including online third-party applications. According to a study, 51% of organizations that had a security breach in 2021 said it was caused by a third party.
The use of third-party applications and services can not be stopped since they have various benefits that every supply chain needs. However, supply chain managers can ensure that they have a comprehensive and upgraded minimum security baseline for all third-party vendors.
However, creating a minimum-security baseline can be challenging since it can be an error-prone and time-consuming task. To overcome this challenge, supply chain managers can use the Minimum Viable Secure Product (MVSP), which is a checklist created by Google, Salesforce, Okta, and a few other companies, for securely working with third-party B2B software and outsourcing services.
Watch experts talk about supply chain cybersecurity at the RSA conference:
You can also check our data-driven list of Vendor Security and Privacy Assessment Software.
2. Assess the whole supply chain for risks
Conduct internal risk assessments
In a medium/large organization, it can be hard to keep track of all the third-party applications that are being used. Keeping track of third-party software can be even more difficult if the supply chain includes a network of off-shore suppliers and distributors which are integrated into your supply chain network system and are using their own third-party software.
Supply chain managers must encourage their cybersecurity team and their suppliers to regularly conduct risk assessments. Business managers can regularly patch vulnerabilities and update all third-party software to stay ahead of the curve.
Supply chain managers need to set regular meetings with the internal IT teams to discuss methods of security and risk management.
Figure 1. PwC’s framework to assess the level of cybersecurity risk in businesses.
Have a collaborative approach
With the increasing network of suppliers and distributors, it can be challenging to keep track of the activities of all your business partners. Supply chain managers can take the following steps to mitigate cybersecurity risks collaboratively:
- Supply chain managers can prioritize third-party/supplier cyber risk management by dedicating a team to it. Every organization must consider its resources before deciding on the size of the team.
- The team should set regular meetings with the suppliers and third-party firms to collaboratively strategize against cyber threats.
- The team can also analyze the supply chain to identify critical points and prioritize them based on the impact they have on the whole supply chain.
- Supply chain managers can also assess (collaboratively with the key suppliers and business partners) the application of blockchain technology for more transparency and higher data security.
3. Educate from top to bottom
One of the main reasons for cybersecurity breaches is employee errors. Spreading awareness and educating employees are good practices for improving cybersecurity. While this might not be the job of a supply chain manager, it still has an impact on the overall cybersecurity posture of the supply chain.
Start from the C-suite
Improving the cybersecurity of a supply chain is a process of operational and cultural transformation. This transformation needs to start from the top-level management. Appointing a C-level cybersecurity leader, such as a chief security officer, is also a good practice to get things going.
Educate the employees
Another best practice is to educate employees to follow certain practices which can help prevent them and the business from potential threats. Educating employees in the following areas can help reduce vulnerability in the supply chain:
- Avoiding pop-ups, unknown emails, and links
- Secure passwords and use multi-factor authentication
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi while working with company data
To learn more about cybersecurity best practices, check out this detailed article.
- 5 Cybersecurity Trends Organizations Must be Aware of
- 4 Ways to Improve Cybersecurity Posture with URL Filtering
- 3 Types of Cyber Threats Organizations Should be Prepared
- Ultimate Guide on RPA for Cybersecurity with Top 7 Use Cases
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