Why Does the Supply Chain Industry Need Cybersecurity Awareness & Training?
Date: 22 April 2021
Like many industries, the supply chain sector is in the midst of a digital transformation — from automation of tasks to the Internet of Things streamlining operations. However, this has also made the industry more susceptible to cyber-attacks. As the supply chain industry stands at the cusp of yet another digital leap, cybersecurity awareness and training has become very critical for businesses in the sector.
Estimates suggest that 300 cybersecurity incidents impacted the supply chain industry in 2019. This included two major ransomware attacks that caused the companies involved to shut down for a period of time. Thankfully, it is possible to mitigate your company's chances of being severely impacted by cyber-attacks — such as by hiring trusted cybersecurity consultancy and advisory professionals or investing in focussed breach readiness assessments etc. But ultimately, the first step is understanding why these attacks happen in the first place in the supply chain industry and what you can do about them at the basic, internal level to reduce their impact.
The risk perimeter of organisations in the supply chain industry is typically greater due to the nature of the business itself. Here are a few reasons that make cybersecurity awareness and training more critical for such organisations:
Dependence on third-party suppliers and service providers
The supply chain industry needs suppliers for products — alongside third-party logistics companies that provide transportation, packing, warehousing, and more. Even though your own company may have a cybersecurity risk strategy, the other suppliers and service providers who can access your systems may not.
A part of your protocol should be focussed on conducting regular cybersecurity health checks on your providers. After all, about one-third of IT breaches involve third-party suppliers. On top of this, you should also check their websites to see if they're at risk of ‘watering hole attacks.' TechAdvisory describes this as cybercriminals targeting vulnerable-looking sites and infecting them with malware — so every computer that visits their site will also be infected. Don't let any computer at your company be part of this statistic.
Outsourced software and hardware
Your company’s cybersecurity risk and breach readiness assessment should include checking the hardware and software that you use. Although outsourcing software and hardware may help reduce infrastructure costs, TechNewsWorld’s article on counterfeit network equipment warns that they can cause a security breakdown. Aside from hacking, cyber-attacks can also happen through these tools — which might have been embedded with malware. This allows hackers to avoid typical cyber defences, so they can take advantage of the technology and even delivery processes of their target company. Ensure that you screen all software and hardware carefully, and that you only get them from reputable sources.
Use of innovative technology
Supply chains are constantly being disrupted by innovative technology — which means the industry really needs to catch up with the latest in cybersecurity training. For example, fleet management has been overtaken by telematics. According to a guide to telematics by Verizon Connect, this system involves using a device in a vehicle. It tracks and sends in-depth information — such as vehicle location, fuel consumption, and flaws. This data is then sent back to the company, which can use it to pinpoint gaps in the workflows. However, cybercriminals have learned how to interfere with the device — allowing them to use the data for malicious purposes, like vehicle theft and stealing personal information. Of course, there is nothing wrong with trying out new technologies if it means improving your operations. But make sure that you take time to learn them and know how to stay safe while using them too.
Lack of awareness among employees
Lately, threats have become harder and harder to recognise — from phishing emails to ransomware disguised as donation drives. Yet, a majority of organisations across the world don’t have well-trained staff or adequate cybersecurity infrastructure to help protect them from such attacks. It is, therefore, imperative for organisations in the supply chain sector, especially those that are at the forefront of technology adoption, to invest in cybersecurity training as well as scenario-based tabletop tests of incident response plans. Employees are the first line of defence so they should be trained wisely. Even if they're participating in something as noble as donation drives online, they should know how to do so with cybersecurity hygiene in mind.
Cybersecurity should be a priority for any company that is geared to embrace technology. Investing in a good cybersecurity awareness training programme for employees is one of the most decisive steps an organisation can take towards mitigating the impact of cyber-attacks, especially for supply chain businesses whose perimeter of exposure is higher.
Author: Nif Vivia
Nif is a freelance writer based in London, with more than five years of experience in helping businesses optimize their supply chains. Apart from being a passionate writer, she enjoys cooking and going on hikes.