In today’s increasingly global business landscape, supply chains are longer and more complex than ever. Regardless of their size, many businesses have supply chains that span multiple collaborators and countries. While this has made the process of providing goods and services smoother, taking on multiple suppliers can also pose a major risk to information security. As the international accounting firm KPMG explains, supply chain security issues can cause devastating financial and reputational damage.
Every time a company adds a new supplier to their supply chain, they risk exposing themselves to different types of cyber attacks. To explain the nature of these risks and how to manage them, we’ve teamed up with the cyber security experts at ESET. From factors to consider when choosing a supplier to which software to use for business IT security, learn how to ensure supply chain security now.
Understanding the risks
Supply chain cybersecurity is an issue that businesses must be mindful of at three stages: Before partnering with a supplier, while working with a supplier, and after a partnership agreement has elapsed. When it comes to supply chain cybersecurity attacks, there are two main risks that businesses need to be aware of: Supply chain attacks and malicious intent.
Supply chain attacks
Also known as secondary targeting, supply chain attacks occur where a third party provider or contractor – such as a shipping partner or accounting firm, for example – is targeted by cyber criminals. Once criminals access the databases or security credentials of this third party, they can then leverage this to gain access to the databases of other businesses who include the contractor in their supply chain.
While most businesses enter partnerships in good faith, this is unfortunately not always the case. The Sloan School of Management at MIT notes that malicious hardware and software that are designed to invade systems or steal sensitive information are known cyberthreats relating to supply chains. In such cases, it can be difficult to tell whether the supplier is aware of the malicious hardware or software or if they themselves are victims of a cyber attack.
Best practice supply chain security management
To avoid falling victim to either form of cyber attack, we recommend following supply chain security best practice by taking the 5 measures below.
- Get to know your supplier’s cyber security measures
Before deciding to add any business to your supply chain, take a good look at their own cyber security strategy and assess whether it’s up to your standard. This includes enquiring about their supply chain security management policy, whether or not they use external IT security contractors, and what – if any – security software they use. Only proceed to a partnership once you are satisfied that the potential supplier takes their IT business security seriously.
- Enact cyber security requirements through formal agreements
To prevent confusion down the track and ensure that parties are held accountable, it’s a good idea to enact a formal supply chain security agreement at the beginning of your partnership. In this agreement, clearly establish which aspects of cyber security each member of the supply chain will be responsible for, and how compliance will be measured.
- Audit suppliers thoroughly and often
Periodically conducting a supply chain audit is a good way to ensure that partner organisations are complying with the requirements of your formal agreement. Routine audits or technical assessments of your suppliers can help you identify and manage risks within your supply chain before they become a bigger problem down the line.
- Practice good password hygiene
Good password hygiene is always important, but it is particularly critical after ending a partnership or if you believe that your supply chain security has been compromised. Change your password at regular intervals and every time a partner leaves your supply chain, and avoid using the same password twice.
- Invest in IT security software
For best results, the above supply chain security management steps should be paired with IT security software from a reputable provider. ESET Secure Business and ESET Threat Intelligence Service are the ideal software solutions for businesses with large and complex supply chains, and can ensure that your cyber security is as robust as possible.
Supply chain security is a key consideration for any business
Regardless of the size of your team or the industry you work in, supply chain cyber security should always be at the forefront of your mind. Robust cyber security measures, supply chain audits, and the right IT security software can reduce your exposure and protect you from potentially catastrophic attacks.
With years of experience in the global cyber security industry, ESET is well-equipped to provide you with the cyber security support you need. To learn more about their software solutions and which is right for you, contact ESET today!