Supply chains in the current global marketplace need to have small margins and be tightly-run ships to meet supply, satisfy demand and ensure profitability. However, with such tight links in the chain as well as the multiple links themselves, supply chains are uniquely more vulnerable to security risks than standalone businesses. Security issues can wreak havoc, yet are commonly overlooked.
Security Risk in the Supply Chain
INTECH, a report on supply chain security problems stated: “vulnerability comes because of ‘unwanted effects’ in the supply chain caused by internal or external forces that create disturbances larger than the supply chain was designed to handle.” (INTECH Risk Management)
The issue of the security risk in the supply chain first became an unwieldy beast in the aftermath of the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001. The government response to the attacks of shutting borders and closing down air traffic suddenly made it apparent just how vulnerable the modern supply chain process and model is.
Security Threats and Cyber Security
Security threats to a supply chain have been traditionally quite varied. The risks might involve logistical problems as a result of extreme weather, or malicious theft, or poor employee relations. However, the single biggest security problem facing supply chains today is cyber security: the management of information technology systems, software and networks.
Cyber Security for supply chains includes protection against cyber-terrorism and cyber-crime attacks including threats such as malware, spyware, data theft and Advanced Persistent Threats (known as APTs).
When it comes to a supply chain, you are only as strong as your weakest link. Whereas most standalone businesses would be looking for this weakest link internally, for supply chains it is likely to be a business outside your own borders. This is of paramount importance for managing cyber security threats. Cyber criminals will utilise the most vulnerable link in the chain to gain access to other elements of the whole process. For example, the cyber-crime group known as Dragonfly (also going by other aliases) has a reputation for targeting a range of companies throughout Europe and in Northern America. Analysis reveals that the companies they are targeting are mostly in the energy sector. However, by examining the whole chain, it is thought that big pharmaceuticals themselves may in fact be the target (read more at ncsc.gov.uk). They are trying to get in via the weakest link.
What are the Cyber Security Threats to the Supply Chain?
The cyber security threats are varied. However they largely centre around 3 main areas:
Many supply chains rely on keeping the knowledge about products and systems within the chain itself. A leak, deliberate or intentional can threaten the viability of businesses throughout the chain.
In order for supply chains to work there must be data sharing between each link in the chain. This potentially exposes sensitive data, such as consumer’s credit card details to harm.
Data sharing has been made more rapid and more prolific through cloud-based sharing. This is another area of weakness.
Mitigating Cyber Security Risk
Various strategies must be employed to mitigate supply chain security concerns, especially cyber security. For further information on how you can manage the vulnerabilities within your supply chain, speak to the supply chain experts at Paul Trudgian Ltd.