To say it’s been an eventful few years for supply chain risk management would be a massive understatement. From delays and disruptions to complete ceases in activity, supply chains have seen it all. While this chaos sparked a tremendous amount of innovation around supply chain technology – which is a positive thing – it also created a vast world of new opportunities for cyber criminals.
According to data from the Identity Theft Resource Center, supply chain attacks surpassed the number of malware-based attacks by 40% in 2022. Research found that over 1,700 entities were targeted in supply chain attacks, affecting more than 10 million people. These numbers are both significant and worrisome, especially as experts predict that supply chain risk will continue to increase “exponentially” in 2023.
In order to avoid becoming a cyberattack statistic, it’s imperative supply chains recognize the biggest risk to their operations and adopt a modern approach to cybersecurity.
The Major Risk Plaguing Modern Supply Chains
In a world that is more interconnected than ever before, it’s common for companies to develop lengthy supply chains. Whether outsourcing projects or developing software partnerships, new technologies and third-party implementations help streamline supply chain operations. However, hyper-connected supply chains also have flaws. With the various technology partners in a supply chain linked together, cybersecurity measures are only as strong as the weakest link. This isn’t a new concept, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the rapid adoption of modern technologies like cloud infrastructure, taking the connected nature of the supply chain to new heights – and, unfortunately, creating a much broader security risk and attack surface.
Hackers quickly realized that the best way to breach their primary targets is through smaller, less secure technology partners within the supply chain. Smaller organizations, with even smaller cybersecurity budgets, are likely to present the vulnerabilities a cybersecurity threat is looking for, like misconfigured or completely insecure systems. This, in turn, provides them with access to the entire supply chain. Once one organization is breached, all of the entities they work with can then consider themselves breached as well, since they share access points, data, and more.
Effectively Securing Today’s Supply Chains
Today, supply chain cybersecurity should encompass three key areas: regularly assessing cybersecurity risk, tightening organizational access controls, and continuing to prepare for potential attacks.
- Organizations must thoroughly assess the risk and vulnerability of any and all third party vendor they work with; not just at the beginning of the relationship or once a year, but on a continuous basis. And this is especially important for critical organizations that would pose the most risk if they were to become victim of a data breach with the potential to have sensitive data exposed.
- Locking down the organization from a digital standpoint is just as important as assessing risk. Modern solutions like Identity-Bound Biometrics (IBB) and Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) can help to secure all organizational log-ins and other important digital touch points. IBB solutions allow organizations to verify the actual individual behind a log-in without them being tied to just a device or token, while MFA solutions require multiple authentication methods for log-ins.
When it comes to digital access control, organizations should get creative with managing supply chain risk. For instance, they can consider implementing virtualization tools like virtual desktops, allowing them to both enable and disable third-party access at will. This method isolates threats to the virtual desktop used by the third-party, which can be quickly disconnected when access is no longer necessary or if a breach occurs.
The ultimate goal should be a zero-trust architecture, where any breached systems across the supply chain can be quickly isolated and locked down when needed.
- Lastly, organizations should continuously focus on preparing for potential attacks, including running regular tabletop exercises. Response and disaster recovery plans should be tested at least annually, but ideally multiple times a year. One can never be too prepared for a cyberattack, which can be both disruptive and costly to the entire supply chain it affects.
When used together, these three processes help to ensure the best possible level of preparedness for potential breaches – no matter when and where they may occur.
The Future of Supply Chain Cybersecurity is Now
With supply chain attacks poised to increase this year, and with opportunities for breaches ever-growing, investing in and upleveling cybersecurity needs to be a top focus for supply chains throughout 2023 (as well as the years to come). Supply chain cybersecurity processes may seem complicated, and innovative cyber solutions like Identity-Bound Biometrics may currently be clouded by a “space age” misconception, but it’s never been easier to implement and adopt such processes and technologies. Now is the time for supply chains to take control of their security and safeguard themselves from would-be cyber criminals.