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As your supply chain continues to grow in complexity, there will be more threats to your security. Your network will encompass more people, more data, and more steps along the way. Part of the issue with this interconnectivity is that vendors, suppliers, and C-suite executives could all potentially represent a risk. And as the digital world continues to grow, it's up to companies to figure out how to improve their supply chain security.

The Importance of Security Management

Many supply chains are compromised because of third-party faults—and the consequences are significant. The average cost of being hacked is $36,000, but the financial burden is minimal compared to the damage that could occur to your company's reputation. If your clients or your vendors are exposed because of your security management, they may hesitate to work with you in the future. 

Supply chains are now packed with technology. From simple desktop computers to the Internet of Things, there are a number of devices in a single network. This can be a major concern, especially since many IoT devices have minimal technology if any at all. With IoT devices and mobile devices now being plentiful, companies are often finding themselves defending ever-expanding networks and a continuously growing number of endpoints. 

How Do You Avoid Supply Chain Risks?

Technology alone is not the solution. You must also have processes and management to go along with it. Here's what you need to do:

  • Have a complete lifecycle approach to deal with cybersecurity threats. Prevention, detection, containment, and recovery: it's all-important. You want to prevent security issues ideally, but most businesses will experience cybersecurity threats at some point or another. Once the company is breached, it needs to be able to detect these threats, and once those threats are detected, they need to be contained and information has to be recovered. Without complete lifecycle management, a company isn't going to be able to recover.
  • Take a close look at your suppliers and vendors. Cybersecurity is a supply chain issue. Many major security breaks occur on the supply side. Use approved vendors and question your vendors about their security measures. When working with smaller or newer suppliers and vendors, you should be especially cautious. Update your contracts to outline your expectations of your vendors regarding security. 
  • Educate your employees. Your employees are your biggest risk. That doesn't mean they're malicious. Most issues happen because of employee error. Better training is critical to show employees why they're being exposed to risk. Regular training is important as a refresher, and employees coming on board should get a thorough introduction to your processes. 
  • Audit your security frequently. Conduct an annual or semi-annual audit of your cybersecurity, and identify any risk factors. When your risk factors are identified, take action to mitigate.
  • Keep your system safe. Your own system is as important as third-party systems. Keep your applications and your hardware up-to-date, and make sure that the right security solutions are running. Don't allow self-service IT: don't let employees install their own applications on your network. This is often a vulnerability because employees will install a multitude of applications to make their job easier. Instead, they have a process that they can go through. 
  • Have written business processes. Employees should know what they should do if they encounter issues such as a security breach, and (perhaps most importantly) they should know who to contact and who is accountable. When employees don't know who is in charge, they find it more difficult to react to things like cybersecurity threats. 

With the above tips, you should be able to improve your supply chain cybersecurity. However, it's always going to be a work in progress, so it's important to stay vigilant. The more complex supply chains get, the more opportunities there are for security issues. If you really want to improve your supply chain security, you need to take a deep dive into your current security processes.

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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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