Supply Chain Management 

In today’s hyper-connected world, supply chains are the lifeblood of global commerce. Many businesses rely on an extended network of suppliers to deliver products, systems, and services to enable them to deliver their product to their customers. The intricate nature of these networks creates a vast attack surface for cybercriminals to exploit however, and the consequences can be devastating. Imagine a domino effect, where a security breach at one supplier ripples through your entire network disrupting operations, exposing sensitive data, and eroding customer trust. The potential impact this could have on your organisation is immense. 

What is supply chain management? 

Supply chain management involves overseeing the entire production process from start to finish, including the delivery of the final product to the consumer. From a cybersecurity perspective, supply chain management focuses on ensuring the safety of the interconnected network of organisations, processes, and technologies involved in bringing a product from conception to delivery. 

In recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of cyber-attacks as a result of vulnerabilities within the supply chain. These attacks have targeted third party software providers, website builders, third party data stores, and hardware providers. The 2023 Cybersecurity Breaches Survey found that only 13% of businesses review the risks posed by their immediate suppliers. 

Securing the supply chain 

It is vital to understand the cybersecurity threats within your supply chain before implementing security measures.  

  • Why might someone attack your supply chain? (Financial gain, disruption, espionage) 
  • Who are the likely attackers? (Cybercriminals, competitors, state actors) 
  • Where are the exploitable weak points in your supply chain?  
  • What would happen if these vulnerabilities were exploited? (Financial loss, reputational damage, operational disruption) 

Once you have identified the critical aspects of your organisation that require the most protection, establish a repeatable and measurable approach for assessing the cybersecurity of your suppliers. 

  • Pinpoint the data, systems, and processes most crucial to your business. 
  • Create tiered security profiles for supplier based on the potential impact they could have on your assets, defining increasing security requirements for each tier. 
  • Decide how to assess your suppliers using a combination of techniques including surveys, interviews, site visits and independent audits. 
  • Develop strategies for managing non-compliant suppliers, including continued assessments and remediation plans. 
  • Implement standardised contract clauses addressing cybersecurity expectations and potential scenarios. 

It is important to note that a single assessment will not be enough to guarantee your cyber security standards are being met. Regular monitoring of your supplier’s cyber resilience will help you identify any gaps and work with your suppliers to address them before they are exploited and become an issue. 

Continuous Improvement 

Evaluate your framework and its components on a regular basis and adjust the process accordingly so that it provides the correct level of risk/reward for your organisation. Once the initial assurance of your supply chain is complete , it is important to understand that the risks to your business are constantly evolving. Stay informed about new threats and use the knowledge gained to update your supply chain’s cybersecurity measures.  

Securing the supply chain is a crucial task that requires a collective effort from everyone involved. Collaborate with your vendors, share threat intelligence, and participate in industry forums to stay ahead of the curve. Adhering to established industry standards like ISO 27001 can provide you with invaluable guidance and demonstrate your commitment to security. 

Cybersecurity is not a destination but an ongoing journey. It is crucial to continually evaluate your practices, adapt to evolving threats, and invest in ongoing training and awareness programs. By prioritising supply chain security, you can build your resilience and safeguard your business against any potential cybersecurity threats.