The supply chain is a critical part of enterprise operations. However, with increasing technology innovations, supply chains are also facing innovative threats. Safeguarding complex networks is essential as global supply chains are more susceptible to attacks.
A supply chain attack, like a data breach or ransomware incident, can cost firms millions. Supply chain security is vital because supply chains are now global, making them more susceptible to attacks.
Significance of supply chain security
A supply chain attack is where any part of the software-based supply chain of an enterprise is under threat. These attacks can be severe, like data breaches or ransomware attacks, costing up to an average of $4.35 million globally.
Attackers usually target the weakest links in the supply chain, like small vendors or open-source communities needing strong security. For instance, Target faced a USD 61 million attack with a compromised air-conditioning supplier.
Even a small security incident with a third-party supplier can cause significant trouble for the entire supply chain. Attacking one party can create a chain reaction, destabilizing the supply chain. The weakest links, often smaller vendors or open-source communities, become targets. Even a minor security breach can set off a chain reaction, affecting the entire supply chain.
To protect against such threats, firms need a comprehensive approach to supply chain security. Cybersecurity frameworks offer general guidelines, but there’s no one-size-fits-all playbook.
Global companies have faced some big supply chain disruptions over the last five years. Let us take a quick look at some of the best-known threats. Over 2022 and 2023, Log4j, 3CX, and MOVEit have been the most damaging attacks.
Log4j was a deadly open-source code that affected supply chains during the pandemic. It is commonly used in Java by developers. It can issue malicious code on any targeted computer remotely. In 2021, The Apache Log4j vulnerability attacked 800,000 units within 72 hours of its identification. It is not easy to mitigate because it’s a core part of Java and widely used in OS programming. Checkpoint, the cyber-security company, termed it ‘the cyber-pandemic.’ The attacks included some known ones, while a big number was not made public.
More recently, the 3CX, a malicious code that attacks Windows and MacOS desktop applications, had a field day with enterprise software. With a customer base of over 600,000 and 12 million users across all sectors, the parent company of 3CX has a client list of who’s who of the enterprise world.
Another culprit that raided the supply chain world was MOVEit – a managed file transfer (MFT). It is software for secure data transfer within an organization or outside companies. Earlier this year, well-known companies like BBC, Zellis, and Norton were affected by the vulnerabilities it causes. It allowed manipulation of their data, disclosure of sensitive information, private and privileged data, using exploited SQL injection vulnerabilities.
The data gets scarier. According to a Juniper research report, Vulnerable Software Supply Chains Are A Multi-Billion Dollar Problem,
Also, the research found that
This article explores crucial best practices to ensure the security of a supply chain. It includes:
- understanding data,
- assessing risks,
- establishing security programs and
- fostering transparent communication with partners.
While threats may persist, these measures prepare firms to navigate and minimize the impact of disruptions.
Here are some simple best practices for supply chain security:
Supply Chain Security Best Practices for Enterprises
1. Understand Your Data:
- Know what data the firm has.
- Use tools to find sensitive data like client data.
- Identify who has access to this data and what security measures are in place.
2. Conduct a Security Risk Assessment
- Gather data about third-party partners.
- Assess their cybersecurity measures.
- Evaluate software and hardware vulnerabilities.
- Ensure compliance with security governance.
3. Establish a Detailed Security Program:
- Develop a written document with objectives, tasks, policies, processes, and tools.
- Assign roles with clear responsibilities.
- Ensure compliance for both your organization and partners.
4. Strengthen Data Management:
- Update password policies and eliminate default passwords.
- Conduct penetration testing to identify vulnerabilities.
5. Evaluate Third-Party Partners for Risk:
- Connect internal teams with third-party partners.
- Identify significant risks like system shutdowns or data breaches.
- Discuss potential damage and mitigation strategies.
6. Communicate regularly with Partners:
- Maintain regular communication.
- Use service-level agreements (SLA) for clear communication.
- Standardize security requirements and hold parties accountable.
7. Limit Partners’ Access to Your Data:
- Audit partners’ access to data.
- Consider the principles of least privilege or adopt zero trust security.
8. Monitor Partners’ Activity:
- Regularly monitor external users.
- Identify and prevent security risks.
- Help in the event of a supply chain attack.
9. Develop an Incident Response Plan:
- Create a plan for roles and procedures in case of a security incident.
- Have distinct plans for data breaches, system shutdowns, and disruptions.
- Test and practice these procedures.
Also Read: Top 5 Security Risks of Collaboration Tools
Safeguarding the supply chain is of utmost importance in today’s global landscape. The rise in disruptions highlights the vulnerability of these intricate networks. Supply chain attacks, ranging from data breaches to ransomware, pose substantial financial risks, especially for smaller vendors lacking robust cybersecurity.
The interconnected nature of supply chains means that a security incident in one part can impact the entire network.
While eliminating threats is challenging, these simple yet effective measures empower organizations to tackle disruptions proactively.
With these practices, firms can fortify their supply chains. This helps minimize potential attacks’ impact and ensure a more secure and resilient future.