For companies that manufacture or distribute products, supply chains are a true lifeline. And today, many of the most significant threats to supply chains exist in the digital world, where vulnerabilities can be exploited by hackers and cybercriminals. Bad actors target both hardware and software components of supply chains, and they can impact everything from product design and sourcing to production, distribution, and financial partners. 

Cyber Supply Chain Risk Management (C-SCRM) is defined as the process of ensuring the integrity of the IT-enabled aspects of the supply chain by identifying, assessing, and mitigating the risks at every critical phase. It’s a vital business process that is picking up steam as cyber threats permeate the business world. 

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Supply Chain Cybersecurity Threats Abound

Supply chains already experience disruptions. According to a recent study, 85 percent of companies experience at least one supply chain disruption each year. And vulnerabilities in supplier company data infrastructure is the largest cause of supply chain data threats. 

Some sobering statistics on the state of supply chain cyber security and risk management:

  • NCC Group reports that supply chain cyberattacks grew by 51 percent in 2H 2021. And less than one third of supply chain leaders say they are very confident in their ability to respond to attacks quickly. 
  • McKinsey reports that 93 percent of supply chain executives say they’re taking positive steps to ensure more resilient supply chains (that’s the good news). But only 21 percent believe their networks are currently “highly resilient,” according to Gartner. 
  • 90 percent of supply chain managers say that technology to empower better visibility across the supply chain is a high priority. 

Basic Principles of Cyber Supply Chain Security 

For companies that want to address C-SCRM, there are some basic tenets to be aware of before even beginning to plan an effective risk management strategy. 

  • Breaches are Inevitable: organizations must develop defenses based on the principle that IT systems in the supply will be breached at some point. When they accept this reality, it focuses decisions on not just how to prevent a breach, but also how to mitigate an attacker’s ability to exploit the information or assets, and how to recover a systems breach. 
  • Physical and Cyber Security Are Linked: There is really no practical gap between physical and cyber security. Attacks on the physical infrastructure of the supply chain may come from a cyber vulnerability, and conversely physical security can be exploited to launch a cyberattack. 

Understand the Source of Risks: Risks come from many areas in the supply chain, including third-party service providers (physical and IT), poor IT security protocol by lower-tier suppliers, vulnerable or counterfeit supplier hardware and software, and third-party data management. 

  • It’s Not Just a Technology Problem: It also involves people, processes, and overall knowledge. Breaches are often due to human error as much as technology. Employees must understand the vulnerabilities in their portion of the supply chain and know how to use cyber security best practices to protect information and intellectual property. 

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Supply Chain Cybersecurity Threats to Watch For

Major cyber risks in supply chains mirror the risks that are present in everyday cybersecurity practices, but the links between supply chain entities and consumers can introduce a new level of risk for people and companies. Among the threats that have occurred recently to be aware of:

Ransomware

Ransomware is already one of the fastest growing cyber threats. In May 2021, an attack on the Colonial Pipeline disrupted gas and jet fuel supplies in the US Southeast. The ransomware payment was $4.4 million, but the indirect damage to the supply chain was much bigger. In another example, logistics provider Expeditors suffered $40 million in lost shipping opportunities and $20 million more on remediation, investigation, and recovery charges. 

Phishing

Phishing attacks targeted the Covid-19 cold supply chain during the pandemic, gaining access to a temperature storage manufacturer’s network and propagated new phishing emails to vaccine transportation partners, spreading the danger even further through the supply chain. 

IoT Data Theft

IoT tracking devices that monitor cargo are commonplace in transportation and logistics companies, who are major partners in supply chains. The problem is that most don’t put enough security measures into protecting IoT data that they do for central IT. The data, if stolen, can be sold to competitors or can help target physical attacks on upcoming shipments. 

Practice on 30+ demos and multiple real-life projects on integrated labs during the Advanced Executive Program in Cybersecurity. Enroll today and leverage the benefits!

Skills and Certifications to Build Confidence in Supply Chain Resilience

The cyber component of supply chain risk is a growing concern for any company that contributes to a larger value chain. Today’s supply chain practitioners will need to ensure they are current with the latest technologies and best practices to manage their own (and their partners’) risk. Get started today with these great options:

About the Author

Stuart RauchStuart Rauch

Stuart Rauch is a 25-year product marketing veteran and president of ContentBox Marketing Inc. He has run marketing organizations at several enterprise software companies, including NetSuite, Oracle, PeopleSoft, EVault and Secure Computing. Stuart is a specialist in content development and brings a unique blend of creativity, linguistic acumen and product knowledge to his clients in the technology space.

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  • *According to Simplilearn survey conducted and subject to terms & conditions with Ernst & Young LLP (EY) as Process Advisors