Six Methods to Strengthen Supply Chain Cybersecurity in 2024

Six Methods to Strengthen Supply Chain Cybersecurity in 2023

Advanced tools and new methods can spot vulnerabilities and security gaps in the supply chain that were overlooked before. These necessitate monitoring systems for potential cybersecurity risks

As supply chains have become increasingly digital, they are also becoming more vulnerable to cyber threats.

In 2024, security risks will be more complex, challenging, and difficult to identify. They can have severe consequences for companies in terms of data breaches, financial losses, operational disruption, and more.

Essential weaknesses in the supply chain include:

  • Third-party access to organizational data and systems
  • Vendor data storage
  • Software vulnerabilities

Cyber attackers often gain supply chain access through:

  • Third-party open-source repositories
  • Public source code
  • Login credentials

So, supply chain executives must strengthen their cybersecurity to make it more secure and resilient.

This article focuses on essential methods for developing a robust response plan against possible supply chain risks in 2024.

Supply Chain Attacks by the Numbers

Newswire finds in Software Supply Chain Attacks To Cost The World $60 Billion By 2025 that the global annual cost of software supply chain attacks to businesses will reach USD 138 billion by 2031, up from USD 46 billion in 2023.

Cyentia Institute and SecurityScorecard Research Report say that 98% of organizations associated with third-party vendors have experienced data breaches in their supply chain system. 40% of third-party vendor breaches occurred through unauthorized network access.

Statista’s Supply Chain Cyber Attacks in The United States from 2017 to 2022 report discloses that supply chain cyber-attacks in the United States impacted 1743 entities.

Clearly, hackers are compromising weak links in existing software supply chains, leading to sensitive data breaches through these access points. Managing supply chain risk is still one of the most critical problems for CISOs.

Here are some methods businesses can use to improve supply chain cybersecurity in 2024.

Create a Robust Security Baseline

It should include:

  • Data encryption:

Encryption of sensitive data is necessary at every step—from data storage to its transition for multiple uses.

Security teams can use encryption algorithms such as Triple DES (3DES), Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), Twofish, Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) to protect sensitive information as it flows through the supply chain.

  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA):

Implement MFA for all users accessing supply chain systems. MFA will add an extra layer of security and can help prevent unauthorized access from entering core systems.

  • Establish or Update Policy:

Policies related to utilizing third-party access and apps should be added to the updated version of security handbooks.

Services and monitoring software developed through third-party vendors should also be enforced.

  • Risk Management Program:

Companies must deploy robust risk management platforms that map security controls on top software suppliers and their processes.

There should be tools for tracking KPIs, data patterns and behavior, and the kinds of data being used and added, among other things, to ensure the security of the third-party connections.

These factors will help identify supply chain vulnerabilities due to third-party access nodes. Then, companies can assess the possibility of disruption and prioritize resources to mitigate these risks.

Supply Chain Risks Assessment

Tracking third-party supply chain software becomes more challenging if they use their in-built network of off-shore suppliers and distributors. That becomes a remote risk for the supply chain that is difficult to trace or pinpoint.

Supply chain cybersecurity can also be strengthened by using AI and automation tools to conduct regular risk assessments.

AI is fast replacing traditional manual ways of the risk evaluation process with automated analysis processes like:

  • Risk identification: AI algorithms can identify risks faster and take the required immediate actions. It also includes continuous data monitoring, detecting anomalies, malicious data, operational threats, and more.
  • Risk evaluation: AI tools evaluate the risks quantitatively so that security teams can decide how best to manage those risks.

The tools also prioritize risks based on their possibilities and impact. Most importantly, it includes precise risk scoring under ‘highly unlikely,’ ‘unlikely,’ ‘possible,’ ‘very possible,’ and ‘definite.’

  • Risk mitigation: With the right AI tools, security teams can mitigate the risk faster and more efficiently.

These tools constantly gather data to identify, analyze, and score risks. The reports thus generated make it easy to put response plans into action.

Human Errors

Employee errors are becoming one of the key reasons for cybersecurity breaches in supply chain mechanisms.

The best way to mitigate this risk is by delivering regular cybersecurity training programs to teams. They will create awareness and ensure security measures are in place for all resources.

Educating employees about potential cyber breaches will help reduce supply chain vulnerabilities. They should be taught how to avoid pop-ups, unknown emails, and links, since these are key areas where threats mainly occur.

Zero-Trust Architecture (ZTA)

The modern Zero Trust Architectures are driven by the principle of least privilege (PoLP).

They ensure that only the users or devices with minimum access get permission to perform supply chain-driven functions. Their access is only as much as strictly necessary, thus reducing the cyber-attack surface and vulnerabilities.

Companies might use a centralized system, as zero trust will require validation at every stage. This will reduce the possibility of attackers using multiple methods for penetration.

Building a zero-trust architecture on a SaaS model removes the necessity for regular updates and patching. This will free up IT security teams to manage multiple supply chain security measures.

Vendor Data Leak Detection Solutions

A third-party data leak detection solution can help businesses detect and protect vendor data leaks before supply chain attacks occur.

A Verizon 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report mentions that 62% of data breaches happen through third-party vendors. It even includes a supply chain of 45%.

So, to best prevent third-party vendor data breaches in the supply chain, it begins with a robust and responsive vendor risk management policy. Security leaders must include:

  • Consider internal security processes during vendor selection. It should align with businesses’ security objectives
  • Audit for security compliance
  • Proof of third-party vendor’s cybersecurity program, including risk management, vulnerability management program, risk coverage, and insurance of risks.
  • Reports on internal risk assessments, penetration testing, and compliance frameworks
  • Include supply chain risk mitigation strategy and response plan to mitigate data breach
  • Data storage and transfer processing system
  • Compliance with data protection regulations
  • Network security system

Also Read: Supply Chain Security Best Practices for Enterprises

Secure Supply Chain Operations

To strengthen supply chain cybersecurity, securing its operations is paramount. It will require minimal access to sensitive data at scale.

This way teams can effectively secure networks, locations, and servers that store sensitive data. They can put strict passwords, identity management systems, MFA, and biometrics to allow only restricted users to access data.

For other functions in the supply chain inventory, firewall and anti-virus software should be installed for continuous scanning.

Most importantly, a cloud storage system could be ideal for secure and smooth data mobility across the supply chain operations.

Cybercriminals will continue to attack and exploit supply chains in the future. Companies must leverage newer tools like automation to keep track of the new cyber risks and mitigate them.

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