You’re only as strong as your weakest link, and modern day supply chains have a myriad of hidden entrances throughout the chain where hackers can gain access and cause havoc. Ensuring that your supply chain doesn’t get hacked needs to be a strategic priority for all supply chain managers.
A Modern and Ever-Changing Problem
Hackers are no longer quite as blatant as they used to be. They take on a much more stealth-like approach to getting through your security. They identify the chinks in your armour, and most often, these are occurring within your supply chain, rather than within the main body of your organisation.
In the today’s world, even the simplest of supply chains end up with a complex spread of suppliers and services, each with their own weak links. Modern day hacking is unlikely to happen right on your doorstep. For example, the data breach experienced by the US store Target, which saw the payment card details of 70 million customers being hacked, happened hidden in the supply chain via a small third party vendor who was a heating, air conditioning and ventilation subcontractor. Again, the November 2015 Hilton Worldwide security breach which gained access to individuals’ card details was traced down to the Point of Sale (POS) terminals that were used in certain franchises within the Hilton hotels, rather than Hilton itself.
The problem now is that “there is currently no de facto supply chain standard for security” (www.aurigaconsulting.com) – meaning a potential field day for hackers.
Supply Chain Hacking – Getting Ahead
When it comes to protecting your supply chain from being hacked, your number one line of defence is staying one step ahead of everyone else. Hackers are inherently like predators and will always seek out the weakest prey. Therefore, the harsh reality of modern supply chain security is to ensure you are always more secure than others.
Understand and Limit Your Supply Chain
It only takes an error on behalf of one supplier or partner and a hacker can get in. Therefore, don’t leave your supply chain to chance. Instead, ensure you know exactly who each and every one of your suppliers are, and that they have appropriate safeguards in place. This is when it can be invaluable to use known approved suppliers and partners that have been previously vetted, rather than allowing employees a carte blanche on who to opt for. Your staff should have set protocols to follow when it comes to sourcing suppliers which mean you’re minimising risk. In line with this there should be continual evaluation and monitoring of suppliers to ensure they are still ‘safe’ and reliable links in your supply chain.
Make Contracts Clear and Transparent
Finally, whilst also aiding you with ensuring you are adhering to both social and ethical responsibility rules, it is imperative to have clear contracts with every supplier and partner in your supply chain. This should encompass access requirements, most notably to digital data, especially when it is cloud-based. This will help to minimise your vulnerability to hackers.