Managing Damage Limitation within Supply Chain Cyber Security

As we approach the end of 2018, and technology undeniably exponentially expands its intelligence and purpose, the question on everyone’s lips, is one surely to question the new threats and vulnerabilities exposed, especially those within supply chain; not to mention the damage which can be provoked via malware, or worse still ransomware, and more so the ways in which these cybersecurity risks can be systematically assessed, mitigated, and ultimately prevented.

Cyber is related to so many different aspects of technology and software within the supply chain, whether it be for operating an Enterprise resource planning system (ERP), controlling block chain, managing an automated conveyor system, or programming robotic process automation processes.

Digitising the supply chain is crucial as it gives real-time visibility, and this is needed to gain valuable consumer insights that help cultivate the closer customer relationships that are the primary benefit of digitisation.

So much reliance on these technologies and pieces of software, for business process management, automating not only back office, but also vital everyday supply chain functions, means that protection is paramount for supply chains. Weaknesses within supply chain technology can be exposed in many ways, and can have a detrimental domino effect for manufacturers, suppliers, and consumers alike, if compromised. Attackers do not discriminate between their targets, whether it be factories, haulage fleets, or distribution centres; which can be victimised through ‘infected’ email correspondence, direct data feeds, or illegitimately intercepted shared data. Not only this, but more worryingly, even trusted third parties can sadly become held hostage by targeted trojans of intrusion.

Sometimes unfortunately avoidable; if detected and exploited; these vulnerabilities can cause greater problems down the supply chain. Loss of revenue, inability to accept orders and load outbound orders; It is ultimately these delays and disruptions to business, which can lead to the haemorrhaging millions of pounds of revenue within mere weeks.

So just what can management do, to better protect their supply chains from technological threats?

To ensure supply chain managers are putting the interests of the security of their vital systems at the heart of their supply chain, audits are crucial.

It has become vitally apparent within industry associations, and government authorities, that supply chain management functions require to pay increasingly closer attention to not only their technological vulnerabilities, but also the cyber security measures put in place by the partners and suppliers that they operate within, and conduct business with.
The key to a fortified supply chain, will be to treat it as an entire entity, as opposed to a fragmented structure; ensuring to address all potential weak spots with equal measure; to assess any risks associated with merchants, distributors, and other service providers, encompassing the entire supply chain.

Supply Chain Management ultimately, needs to demand the respect it deserves, by way of recognition to assess and protect the entire system lifecycle; it is therefore becoming more of a likelihood, that supply chain management teams will begin asking their suppliers tougher questions about cybersecurity; outlining their security procedures, protocols, and standards, to better identify gaps, and implement their own protective procedures.

As cyber threats continue to increase in frequency, and severity, optimum protection can no longer be assumed by simply paying for it. Ever new challenges within the cyber sector require companies to begin to adopt and implement new strategies and different approaches in order to prevent and recover from, threats and attacks. Realistically, only then can companies feel safe in certainty, that they have tried their hardest to protect against any cyber compromises, to successfully continue to serve customers’ supply chains.

A new survey from IT solutions distributor ‘DataSolutions’, reported that 76% of respondents said they expect to increase their cybersecurity spend in 2019; yet companies must also remain responsible for identifying which assets are exposed to vendors and their data storage systems, in order to understand what fundamentally needs to be protected.

Unfortunately, cyber criminals and malware are always going to be one step ahead, and it is ever more vital for companies to invest in the right defence technology, and have a preventative plan, and successful recovery strategy, in place.

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