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4 Reasons Your Business May Be Vulnerable To Supply Chain Cybersecurity

Most businesses will work with a variety of partners and third parties, including manufacturers, couriers and vendors. This typically requires them to exchange large amounts of data, for example, integration data or customer details. The problem is that each part of the supply chain has its own vulnerable access points and weaknesses, and these vulnerabilities are often targeted by cybercriminals.

In fact, almost two-thirds (60%) of cyberattacks originate from entities that are part of the extended supply chain or by external parties.

This is because cybercriminals will exploit any security failures or weaknesses they find, and a supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The solution to this is learning cybersecurity in order to protect their business from threats out there, for this you can take up any Cyber Security course to gain expertise. This is very worrying considering that cybersecurity is crucial for protecting your business, its reputation, your customers and, of course, avoiding a huge fine under General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

As such, businesses need to make sure they’re doing all they can to choose reliable and secure partners and third-party vendors. But if you’ve recently started a business or you’re concerned about your current supply chain – don’t panic.

In this guide, we’re going to look at four reasons that your business may be vulnerable to supply chain cybersecurity issues, so you can mitigate these risks in the future. We’ll also offer some quick tips on how to prevent a supply chain attack as much as possible.

Why is your business vulnerable to supply chain security breaches?

There are lots of ways that cybercriminals might try to get hold of your data and being aware of these can help you to reduce the risk of a security breach. There could be a number of ways that you’ve left yourself vulnerable and you need to address these right away. These include:

1. Vulnerable networks and operating systems

If there are any issues with your network’s hardware or software or operating systems, this could leave your vulnerable to a cyber attack. The same applies to any third party’s network as well. For example, insecure Wi-Fi access points or poorly-configured firewalls can give hackers a gateway into the network and access to your data.

What’s more, if you use any third-party software providers as part of your supply chain, cybercriminals can exploit any weaknesses within this and inject malware into the software. This means that each time someone downloads or uses the software this malicious malware comes along with it.

Compromised software or operating systems can be hard to detect, therefore, you need to choose providers who take their security seriously.

This also applies to your own network and any hardware you use as part of your supply chain. In this case, this might be handheld devices used in warehouses to scan packages or by delivery drivers and courier services.

2. Data storage vulnerabilities

As part of the supply chain, it’s likely that you’ll be sharing your customer’s details with third parties – sometimes multiple third parties. This might be those packaging the goods in a warehouse or the courier service you choose to deliver your goods to your customers.

In any case, if this data is collected, processed or stored incorrectly at any stage, it can fall into the wrong hands. As such, you need to ensure that any vendor or service provider you rely on has strong processes in place for handling data and that their systems are fully secure. This includes perfecting your own data storage processes.

3. Human vulnerabilities

Unfortunately, human error accounts for as many as one in four (25%) of data breaches. This could be an error from within your company or from an employee working anywhere down the supply chain.

This might be because they fall for a phishing attack, accidentally expose sensitive data online, download malicious content or create any exploitable point an attacker might take advantage of.

Of course, the best way to combat human error is to ensure all employees are as clued up as possible on cybersecurity best practices. This is fine in your own business, where you control the training, but the problem gets bigger when it comes to third parties or vendors. After all, you can’t monitor their teams and educate them on cybersecurity.

4. Vulnerabilities within business processes 

The final reason on our list is process vulnerabilities. We briefly touched on this when discussing data storage processes above, but this is not the only way cybercriminals can exploit weak processes to access your data or systems. For example, improper configuration, passwords and permissions, social media processes or poor processes for reporting suspicious activities can all leave your data vulnerable.

Imagine that you have a very weak password policy in place that allows employees to come up with their own passwords, with no indication about what is or isn’t a strong password. This can leave you immediately vulnerable to cybercriminals and for such a simple reason.

And this applies to any business process, either within your business or within the processes of the suppliers you rely on further down the chain. This is another thing that can be hard to monitor within other businesses; you just have to take their word for it that they are doing all they can to keep their processes secure

Preventing a supply chain attack

The good news is that there are some steps you can take to help mitigate the risks of a supply chain attack. These steps might include:

  • Firstly, always do your research before working with anyone new in your supply chain – look at their security practices, as well as reviews or testimonials about their services
  • You should also build security declarations with any vendors, suppliers or third parties you choose to partner with. This should outline what you expect from them and what they are doing to protect your data
  • Educate your employees on cybersecurity best practices and ensure you offer regular training and updates
  • Regularly update your systems; this might mean turning on automatic updates, as well as getting the tech team involved
  • You should also encrypt all your business’ hard drives and backup your data regularly too
  • Finally, make sure that any devices your staff use, or if possible, any devices that suppliers or third parties use on the supply chain, have been checked and approved before use

By taking as many of these steps as possible, you can reduce the risk of a data breach and make your supply chain more secure.

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