cybersecurity in supply chain

What are Cyber Supply Chain Principles and Supply Chain Risk?

More organizations across all industries are falling prey to software security vulnerabilities. A significant number of these unforeseen vulnerabilities affect supply chain management systems. The current COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, has created novel cybersecurity challenges for businesses as they shift to the working-from-home model that exposes vulnerable ICT systems to cybercriminals.

The increasing number of cyberattacks targeting supply chains highlight the threats that hackers pose to digital supply chains. More organizations are waking up to the reality that managing cybersecurity threats within their supply chains is critical to business success. The National Institute of Standards and Technology recommends cyber supply chain principles and best practices that every organization should adopt. They include:

Incorporating Cybersecurity Into the Procurement Process

Anyone within your supply chain can introduce cybersecurity risks. Thus, it’s best to incorporate cybersecurity into your organization’s supply chain and procurement process. Having a risk-management policy ensures privacy and cybersecurity get considered constantly and mitigated with consistent and potent measures. Some of the crucial cyber security measures you may want to embed into your supply chain include:

  • Establishing privacy and cybersecurity requirements as built-in features of your procurement life cycle.
  • Your procurement contracts should contain clauses that enforce consistent compliance with privacy and cybersecurity measures by everyone in the supply chain.
  • The organization’s cybersecurity obligations should be regularly reviewed and optimized to address emerging threats in the supply chain.

It’s best to remember that supply chain risk management isn’t solely the responsibility of your organization’s procurement and IT teams. All stakeholders, including third-party vendors, can introduce threats to the system. Hence, the cybersecurity policy you implement should be organization-wide.


Implementing A Risk-Based Approach in Procurement

It’s best to build your supply chain’s cybersecurity defenses with “assumed breaches” in mind. This risk-based approach to supply chain management allows you to anticipate possible threats that your supply chain’s systems, applications, and networks face. This prepares you for worst-case scenarios.

One of the most significant challenges that procurement professionals face is making decisions regarding the acceptance and rejection of third-party vendors. Previously, this decision solely depended on the third parties’ suitability to provide their services/products to organizations. However, the sharp rise in cybersecurity risks means it’s equally crucial to vet whether the third-party vendors pose a threat to your broader ecosystem.

Implementing a risk-based supply chain approach improves your assessment of vendors’ security posture. It also enables you to build better third-party relationships concerning cybersecurity. Once these relationships are established, it will be easier to help your vendors mitigate their cybersecurity risks.

Organizations that implement a risk-based approach in their procurement process always have an upper hand when creating mitigation plans for ensuring the privacy and security of their supply chains. It’s easier to identify gaps in their cybersecurity posture and mitigate them early.

Implementing Source Code Policies

More organizations are using procurement software to streamline their supply chains while reducing cybersecurity risks. However, threats abound in such a digital ecosystem. An efficient way to mitigate such threats is by implementing source code policies that reduce risks regarding the development, distribution, and management of the procurement software and soft code. In doing so, you’ll not only be protecting your intellectual property but also your supply chain.

Regard Cybersecurity as An All-Round Problem

Contrary to what many people think, cybersecurity isn’t just a technology problem that concerns an organization’s IT team. Instead, it’s a process and people problem that touches on all facets of the supply chain and the organization in general. When the integrity of your supply chain network is compromised, the organization’s IT infrastructure is also affected, and vice versa.

Cybersecurity risk management is an all-around problem, which also affects those outside the procurement life cycle. Also, it’s best to remember that most supply chain cybersecurity breaches result from human error rather than technological failure.

cybersecurity in supply chain

Regardless of how resilient your supply chain cybersecurity risk management framework is, it won’t hold up to threats if human actors in the system keep committing errors that give hackers the opportunity to pounce. In line with this, stakeholders throughout the supply chain should implement cybersecurity practices to help secure critical data and prevent breaches.

Bridging the Gap Between Physical and Cyber Security

The recent spate of supply chain cyber attacks is largely attributed to the wide gap between cyber and physical security in most organizations. In such situations, it’s pretty easy for hackers to exploit vulnerabilities in physical security to launch cyber attacks. Similarly, the attackers may find it easy to exploit cyber vulnerabilities in your supply chain to gain physical access.

Key Takeaways

The ongoing digital transformation in the supply chain world is plausible because it improves efficiency while reducing redundancies. However, it creates vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to access your system. Implementing a supply chain risk management policy and employing the aforementioned principles can help you to mitigate the risks.

Salman Zafar

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