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Supply-chain-security-1.jpgWhile most businesses only have to deal with online threats, supply chains have an even tougher job. After all, there are often multiple companies a single supply chain. If one of these links is hit by a cyber attack, there could be resounding, destructive ripples down the entire system. To ensure business continuity, it's vital to properly protect your company's security.

If hackers, viruses, or malware find a hole in your system, you could fall victim to a devastating breach, which costs you money, time, and customer trust. In 2016, over 1,000 corporate data breaches were reported across America alone. Don't let a similar fate befall you this year. Below, we've outlined five steps for safeguarding your supply chain's data:

1. Double and Triple Check

If your security was watertight in 2016, it probably isn't in 2017. Why, you ask? Because cyber threats to supply chains are constantly evolving and changing, as hackers' methods of attack continue to gain finesse. That's why it's vital to stage penetrative tests every year. 

More than ever before, businesses are hiring ethical hackers who attempt to breach the company's safety measures. These ethical hackers are masters at finding the holes in security systems, so you can hopefully patch them up before an actual cyber attack occurs. For a secure operation, try incorporating these tests into your supply chain optimization plan for the year.

2. Limit External Access

Data needs to be properly stored and secured at every link in the supply chain. Companies must ensure that data is protected inside their data center, rather than leaving it on hard drives or USB sticks. Don't be careless with this step. It's remarkable how easily unsecured data can fall into the wrong hands.

An easy cautionary measure to protect data is installing applications that prevent the downloading of data onto external drives. But always have a plan B. Have a solid recovery plan in place, so that data can be retrieved if things go awry.

3. Stay Up to Date

It's important to stay up to date on the news regarding viruses, malware, and security breaches worldwide. If one of your competitors experiences a cyber attack, take immediate notice and make the necessary steps to safeguard your company. Supply chain security requires constant vigilance against these threats. Regularly updating your software, downloading patches, and educating your employees on proper safety protocol is also beneficial.  

4. Don't Forget About Vendors

Ideally, to achieve the best supply chain security, all vendors should follow one set of security protocols. As a company, don't feel shy about adding security clauses to your vendor agreements. These individuals aren't your employees, but since you're doing business together, they can still be held accountable for following proper security methods. It's not unusual for supply chains to run joint security tests with their suppliers too. An incident response strategy should also be in place, just in case a security breach does occur.

5. Stay United and Organized

The biggest threat to your supply chain security is, arguably, a lack of organization within the chain. To avoid any weak links, you must ensure that everyone understands the safety procedures and follows them accountably. To ensure safety dedicate a few hours to supply chain security where the right information is presented and explained. Allow time for follow up questions and one-on-one training.

Remember, leaving your supply chain unguarded against hackers, viruses, and other malicious threats can become a very costly mistake. Invest in your company's security now, instead of waiting until it's too late. Cyber attacks cost businesses across America millions of dollars each year. But with the proper protection, upkeep, and vigilance, every link of your supply chain can be strongly safeguarded. 

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About Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.

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