As the networks used to store our data grow ever more powerful by the day, so do questions of cyber security prove ever more urgent. A large majority of organizations are alarmingly underprepared and ill-equipped to defend against cybersecurity attacks. This frightening truth is the direct result of the fact that most supply chain businesses remain at the mercy of weak security systems. Because you don’t want your supply chain business to be left exposed, a formidable system of security coverage is indispensable.
Supply chains especially, due to the nature of their several moving parts, find themselves riddled with security vulnerabilities. Your company’s success is, therefore, commensurate with the sophistication of your cyber security system. 2020 alone saw malware attacks rise 358% and ransomware attacks rise 435%. Fixing the damage caused by these breaches comes at a high price. An average security breach costs companies $3.86 million and cybercrime in general is predicted to cost the world economy $10.5 trillion annually.
The impact of 2020’s cybersecurity incidents has left the global market in a state of panic. Companies such as the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Bombardier, and Kroger were negatively affected by the gravely data-compromising attack on Accellion’s File Transfer Appliance (FTA). Even a company as seemingly fortified as Shell can hardly be considered impregnable as they reported third-party malicious actors had infiltrated their most sensitive personal files and those of their stakeholders.
The effects of cybersecurity breaches reverberate beyond the internal workings of the supply chain. Similarly, the structure of a supply chain communicates directly with all sectors of our society and, in this way, data breaches can upset many mechanisms of distribution. Last June, a coordinated cyberattack on the JBS meat processing company forced management to shut down many of its sites in the US, a move which temporarily froze key channels of the world’s meat supply chain.
Among the many breaches seen this year alone, the most notable remains the attack on the Colonial Pipeline – an unprecedented effort which struck at the heart of America’s infrastructure. The attack resulted in the shutdown of a pipeline that transports more than 100 gallons of gasoline from Houston to New York. An attack of this magnitude demonstrates just how all-encompassing the effects of these security breaches truly are.
While the term “cybercrime” might evoke the image of a lone wolf hacker, the reality of the situation is that many of these cybercrimes are perpetrated by groups of hackers. Earlier this year a hacker group known as Nobelium, based out of Russia, successfully orchestrated a phishing campaign that enabled them to breach 3000 email accounts from more than 150 organizations. Nobelium owes its infamous reputation to the 2020 cyberattack on the software supply chain of SolarWinds, an American software development company. What made SolarWinds such an attractive target was its software’s interconnection with other organizations’ security systems. Compromise of software can help hackers make inroads into various other company-facets reliant on that software.
And the situation has only worsened with the impact of the pandemic, the consequences of which played no insignificant role in the development of cyber crime. In 2020, work-from-home policies opened up new avenues for cyber attacks. A study done in Q1 by the Identity Theft Resource Center discovered that 137 organizations had been at breach at 27 different third-party vendors – and marked increase from the 19 third-party vendors reported in the previous quarter.
Learning about all of these recent crimes can be galling. Staying ahead on cybercrime trends, therefore, requires a supply chain manager to study the topography of their company’s security landscape. For every new security measure implemented by your supply chain business, a new cyber crime tactic is developed to circumvent the barriers introduced thereby. A properly robust security system must, therefore, be grounded in a state of constantly increasing vigilance.
With the help of Patrick Rigoni’s central principles of risk management we’ve come up with 5 useful strategies for securing your supply chain:
Every company has blind spots relative to their security system’s capabilities. Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigation’s Report brings to light the sobering statistic that 60 percent of all small businesses fold within 6 months of a cyberattack. Larger supply chains are hardly immune to the effects of such an attack as small businesses tend to constitute a vital artery of the supply chain organism. To gain a sense of the place and severity of these vulnerability points, you should ask yourself:
To answer this question, reflect on what your company does, what sort of clients it services, and where your company is situated. From the perspective of a cyber criminal, what might appear the most appealing of your company’s assets? Would the notoriety of your brand put your company on a cybercriminal’s radar?
Risk management assessments often overlook key security threats. How can you adjust your risk management approach in general to better address the strengths and weaknesses of your security system? How can you expand your risk management philosophy to account for questions of cybersecurity?
However well you might think you understand the soup to nuts of your business, certain vital details of your company’s processes are bound to elude oversight. With an eye towards locating security vulnerabilities, reacquaint yourself with those components of your company which you tend to neglect. Too often confirmation bias can blur our vision of what wants for adjustment in a value-chain.
Your competitors’ actions and reactions in the face of cyberattacks can usefully indicate where the gaps in your security system lie. Take time to research recent attacks on your competition and reflect on their response methods. Were these responses typified by readiness? How devastating were the attacks? What steps did they take to remedy the consequences afterwards?
Informed by a solid understanding of your company’s vulnerabilities you can set yourself to devise an action plan that will work to address the issues uncovered. List your findings and categorize their specifics in terms of the threat level they pose.
The prowess of an armed unit depends on its response readiness. For this reason soldiers sharpen their reflexes through true-to-life combat simulations. Similarly, the hallmark of a good cybersecurity system is its readiness to respond to cyber attacks. The strength of your cybersecurity plan must, therefore, be put to the test. A penetration test is a simulated cybersecurity attack which effectively reveals critical vulnerabilities – those which remain potentially undetected by a routine risk assessment – in your security program.
An ethical hacker or “white hat” is an expert in information and data security who penetrate a security system in order to identify flaws and vulnerabilities. Ethical hackers are contractors trained to keep abreast of the latest cybercriminal practices – techniques which they will apply in their simulated attacks.
The varieties of pen test are many: covert, open-box, closed-box, external, internal. The modality of the pen test most appropriate for the assessment of your security system depends on a range of considerations. Deciding which pen test will optimally evaluate the strength of your security system will be contingent on the nature of your company and the structure of your “security posture”.
Ethical hackers know what they are doing and take care to gain access to your security system without putting anything at risk.
With your pen test completed, you can rest easy knowing no stone has been left unturned in the pursuit of the sound functioning of your firewall. Now the participation of your workforce in the maintenance of the systems introduced will be integral to your company’s cybersecurity strength.
The ramifications of a cyber security breach are myriad. To avoid legal as well as financial consequences means more than simply patching up holes in your system. It means instituting changes that will enable your security system to regenerate its defenses with evolving efficiency.
Many companies are unknowingly dependent on outmoded technology. A wise business owner should assume that the average cybercriminal is equipped with infiltration techniques more cunning than your servers are functional. Ask yourself which of your organization’s departments would most benefit from a technology overhaul.
Carrying out a thorough overhaul of your security systems means making sure assets, data, and intellectual property remain protected. In order to toughen this protection, security programs at every tier of the company should together form a connective tissue. The more communication exists between these systems, the more you can ensure your supply chain is safeguarded.
By dividing these items into different sensitivity classes, you’d better be able to envisage the sort of threats posed to their safety.
With a comprehensive plan in place, you can now move on to its execution.
Contrary to common belief, an effective firewall is not purely digital. It is also constituted by human action. Your employees will need to understand their role in shielding valued items from the designs of malicious actors.
Knowledge is power. Your employees should understand the difference between, say, a phishing scam and ransomware. All it takes is one ill-advised click to virally infect an entire security system. Conducting a Security Awareness Training is a good way of educating your employees about these dangers.
Knowing who in your workforce has access to what information is essential to keeping your company insulated from internal and external threats. A recent study conducted by Kapersky and B2B international revealed that over half (52%) of the businesses they surveyed most feared cybersecurity threats coming from within their companies. Being certain that sensitive information stays in trustworthy hands is inestimably important.
Your employees are your eyes on the ground. Employee familiarity with the mechanisms in use at any given sector of your company means that your workforce will perceive details invisible to an average administrator. Tapping their knowledge and soliciting suggestions for improvement is a great way to secure your company from top to bottom. A powerful workforce is one that not only keeps up to speed on the developments within the world of cybersecurity, but also one that enhances the operationality of that system through valuable idea-oriented feedback.
Not every business leader pays enough attention to the quality of their IT department. However much trust you place in your company’s experts, chances are their knowledge-base can only cover so much ground. To better address your company’s security concerns, you should consider enriching your inhouse brainpower with additional outside consultation.
Cybersecurity must be optimized within the context of supply chain success. Any undertaking, therefore, to improve security overall should be supported by a clearly delineated business case. A wide-scope business case is one that factors finances and resources into the equation.
Maintenance of your security hygiene requires consistent supervision and assistance. Without the aid of outside consultation, even the most seemingly bulletproof security systems can betray glaring weaknesses. Third-party guidance will ensure you aren’t viewing your cybersecurity program through rose-tinted lenses.
The average supply chain owner is prone to neglect the necessity of frequently updating their workforce on changes in procedure and newly emergent security risks. Frequent seminars, training courses, and fun activities can act as useful refreshers for educating employees. You might even consider providing employees with opportunities to obtain cybersecurity certifications that will better equip them with the necessary skills to anticipate and thwart internal threats as they arise.
Want to know more about how to manage your supply chain business? Book a free consultation with Patrick Rigoni today!