When many people think of supply chain security, ideas like keeping their warehouses properly locked or cataloging inventory probably come to mind.
Increasingly, however, supply chain security has been a digital concern. According to a report by reinsurance firm Guy Carpenter, technology failure and cyber attacks are a bigger threat to most organizations than fire and weather incidents. When cyber attacks are successful, they can have disastrous consequences for the companies involved.
Why Supply Chain Security Matters
One of the reasons that the modern supply chain is so vulnerable to cyber security threats today is because of how diverse the modern supply chain is. In any given supply chain, there are usually a few different companies and computer systems involved, depending on the nature of the organization. This lack of a single cohesive set of rules on security and threat management means that supply chains are vulnerable to being attacked.
Cyber criminals have already identified this vulnerability and are taking advantage of it in droves. According to a data breach study conducted by Verizon, small businesses fall victim to security breaches more regularly than larger companies.
Perhaps the most notorious recent example of the vulnerability of small businesses in a supply chain was the Target data breach. In late 2013, hackers gained access to Target's system by stealing network credentials from Fazio Mechanical Services, an HVAC and refrigeration contractor based in Pennsylvania. As a result, between November and December of 2013, these hackers were able to steal Target's customers' debit and credit card information, mailing addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers. Target estimated that up to 70 million customers could have been affected.
Even if you are aware of the huge risk that cyber supply chain security poses to your organization, it's still important that you take steps to improve your cyber vulnerability.
How to Fortify Your Supply Chain from Cyber Attacks
Although protecting your supply chain from hackers and cyber criminals can be a complex undertaking, there are a few basic things that you can do to minimize this risk:
- Talk to your vendors and contractors. Make sure that any part of your company information that they deal with is kept secure: ideally, you should be able to agree upon reasonable security precautions that every organization in your supply chain takes
- Educate your team. Many supply chain professionals are not well versed in cyber security or the operation of these kinds of tools. By making sure your staff knows how to handle cyber security concerns in your supply chain, you can cut down on cyber security risks
- Use the proper tools. It's vital that you have software in place that is set up properly and equipped for the job. According to major cyber security blog Krebs on Security, part of the reason that it took so long for the malicious software to be identified after the Target breach was because Fazio Mechanical was only running a free copy of an anti-malware program that was not designed for corporate use.
By looking at your current digital supply chain security infrastructure and taking active steps to make it safer, you can minimize your supply chain risks and the chance of falling victim to a cyber attack.
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.