Safeguarding warehouses from physical harm remains a constant concern for operators. From burglaries to fire hazards, warehousing requires 24/7 surveillance. However, many are overlooking the threat posed by infiltrators of the digital supply chain; it is integral that cyber security is plotted highly on priority lists. With supply chains becoming increasingly reliant on digital, it is necessary for operations and data to be defended from violation.
Of course, malfunctions in software/hardware can exist, jeopardising systems of all functions and magnitudes. Cyber crime is different. Deliberate attacks occur frequently and can shatter supply chains from the very core. Companies outsourcing IT, storage and/or software are at a higher risk and so vigilance is of utmost importance. Ideally, an organisation develops a combat strategy, placing experts at each stage of the supply chain in order to prevent possibly devastating breaches.
There are a number of ways in which supply chains can be targeted; aside from direct attacks to a company, third party providers are often responsible for allowing infringement. It is vital for companies to take care when selecting their website and software providers, ensuring that they are reliably sourced and sustain a sturdy cyber defence system. Third party website/software providers can be infected without the employing company even knowing. The malware is then shipped to the business who will suffer as a result. It can be impossible to check every piece of software or website update/download made available, especially for smaller companies with limited resources. Therefore, it is important to select reliable third parties who won’t cause harm, whether this is with intent or not.
Sticking with third party providers, it is also important to ensure data stores are carefully selected. If a company sends its data to be housed with a third party company, it is obviously important to be rigorous when carrying out checks on that company. Will they protect pools of data from cyber attack? Can they be trusted to keep data private and confidential? Data many belong to customers, it may also cover intimate business details such as with regards to structure. If you’re contacted by a spam agency then chances are your data was infiltrated and reaped from a data store by a cyber attacker.
Watering hole attacks are also a prime channel for cyber criminals. Watering holes are used by a large number of people in the same field of employment; examples include government interfaces and healthcare bases. The members of these cohorts trust their watering holes fully, moving freely within them and downloading industry-specific content. Plenty of traps can be set up inside these trusted “safe” places, especially when people are downloading potentially spiked content without a second thought. These watering holes can serve to produce thousands of data entries. Much confidential information is stored and attackers are able to get an astronomical amount of data from just one infiltration as this data is often shared as part of one huge network. Such information pools can hold much sought after information, such as valuable government statistics or research conducted by health boards.
What practical measures can you take?
- When picking your third party providers, make sure you can trust them. Ask them to evidence their security methods to ensure that your supply chain remains safe.
- Don’t automatically rule out smaller companies. The stakes are high but often small businesses lose out when they are more than capable of managing a full and reliable service. Again, demand proof and complete relevant risk assessments before embarking on a contract.
- Employ specialists in your organisation to take care of cyber security. If your organisation handles sensitive data or operates complicated systems can you afford to cut corners? Some warehouses are controlled entirely online; these systems can be under threat just as much as data stores. If an attacker wades in and controls your warehouse, the entire supply chain can be devastated. This also puts employees at great risk as autonomy is surrendered.
- Regularly review your tactics. It is by no means enough to have set up measures years ago and rely on archaic strategy – keep ahead of your attackers! With each third party introduced into the company, however small they might be, a new risk is imposed. Keep on top of all potential portals of entry for criminals.
- Establish a common communicative understanding with your third party providers. Make sure you have mutual key terms as well as a way to overcome potential language barriers. To maintain a robust cyber security system, everyone along the supply chain needs to be on the same page with a common understanding of terms and processes.
- Always protect your sensitive data with passwords and store any references to said codes in an encrypted folder. Additionally, consider a two-factor authentication process to access sensitive information. Perhaps a physical object in addition to the digital password could be used in order to heighten security. This system is used, for example, by many online banking systems to log-in to your finances.
- Change your passwords regularly and carry out cyber security audits at the same rate as you would monitor all other systems in your company. Maintain this vigilant attitude – question everything and don’t assume everything is ok unless it states otherwise.
It is impossible to entirely guarantee the safety of your digital supply chain; nevertheless, taking the above measures can make your business far less susceptible to attack. First and foremost, you need to be proactive and investigative; explore every new connection and act with vigilance across your entire supply chain. Threats will only become more menacing and so it is vital to ensure that you have a comprehensive security structure in place.