Digital transformation has made many things easier for businesses, right from inventory management and order processing to managing financials. On the flip side, however, it has also made companies more vulnerable to cyberattacks and data breaches. A breach occurring anywhere in the supply chain could end up seriously disrupting your operations. So, how do you safeguard your business against these threats?
Deploying a bunch of security solutions within your company is not enough. For starters, it can’t guarantee the prevention of human errors and insider threats, which are major causes of data breaches. Besides that, it doesn’t exactly address the weak links in your supply chain. Global supply chains have grown vast and complex, making it virtually impossible to pinpoint failure points or completely avoid risks.
In other words, it is time to stop considering cybersecurity and data protection as just a technology problem that exists within your organization. The scope is much, much larger. It is also a people, process and knowledge/awareness problem that extends to your entire supply chain. That means your preventive and corrective measures should proactively address risks within your supply chain.
Let’s take a look at some key strategies and controls that can help you effectively manage and avoid supply chain risks effectively.
Make Supply Chain Security a Part of Governance
Addressing supply chain risks on an ad hoc basis will only create ambiguity and chaos. Instead, you need to make it a part of your security activities and policies. This way, employees will know how to coordinate with third-party organizations and what kind of security activities must be undertaken.
Supply chain cybersecurity strategy best practices include:
- Defining who is responsible for holding vendors and suppliers accountable
- Creating a security checklist for vendor and supplier selection
- Specifying how to evaluate and monitor suppliers’ cybersecurity practices and how often
- Setting up a mechanism for measuring performance and progress
Take Compliance Seriously
With cyberattacks and data breaches increasing and impacting more people than ever before, the emergence of numerous compliance regulations has come to the forefront. For instance, if you are part of the defense industrial base, you must be Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) compliant. There are many more out there, such as GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS, etc., each applicable to a particular industry or specific focus area.
In most cases, to prove and maintain compliance, companies must undergo several detailed assessments, produce different reports and documentation, implement certain best practices and more. You can avoid weak links in your supply chain by making compliance with these regulations mandatory for your vendors.
Besides that, you need to ensure your business remains compliant with laws applicable to you as well. Not only does it strengthen your cybersecurity and data protection posture, but these regulations also act as a guide for everyone on your team to follow. Since these regulations are often updated, it ensures the measures you take align with industry standards.
Deploy Comprehensive and Layered Security Systems Internally
Threat prediction is virtually impossible if you have a large number of third-party vendors. The attack surface is massive, making it almost impossible to guard against. What you need is comprehensive and layered security.
It is a more holistic approach, where each layer of your IT infrastructure is protected by a series of different solutions that make up for each other’s vulnerabilities. So, even if your firewall fails to defend an attack vector, you still have multiple layers of defense protecting your data, including antivirus, access control, intrusion prevention systems and data encryption.
The layered approach to security also calls for regular training and testing of your employees since they are usually your first line of defense. For instance, if your team knows how to identify a phishing email, your data won’t be compromised even if your phishing filter fails.
By not relying on any one solution to protect your sensitive data and files, you disrupt the cyber kill chain. This will allow you to prevent, detect and respond to cybersecurity risks more effectively.
Adopt and Enforce International IT and Data Security Standards
Because modern supply chains are so interconnected, you have to interact and collaborate with your vendors constantly. This means vast amounts of data are exchanged, including sensitive customer information such as medical records, PII and financial data. The data must be stored securely (with continuous monitoring and real-time alerting) and access to it must be regulated.
But how do you guarantee this? By adopting and enforcing international IT and data security standards such as GDPR and HIPAA. These standards ensure companies keep track of the sensitive data they acquire, produce it when challenged and have implemented adequate measures to secure the data. Besides that, when selecting a SaaS vendor, you should find out if they are SOC 2 or ISO27001 compliant. This indicates that the vendor is securing information as per industry standards.
With supply chains becoming more interconnected and smarter, now is the time to identify and secure weak links in your supply chain. Collaborate with your partners, find out potential vulnerabilities and compliance violations, and work together to mitigate those risks.