Cybercrime and the Supply Chain – What to Watch For

Cybercrime and the Supply Chain - What to Watch For

Cybercrime continues to be a looming threat hanging over supply chain operations. Just as the supply chain management industry becomes more digitalized and sophisticated, so too do the hackers who want to exploit organizations’ vulnerabilities. Today’s supply chain partners are connected, and that makes them more vulnerable to cybercrime. Supply chain executives are aware of this, and in an October survey by the insurance firm Travelers, they listed cyber threats among their top three business concerns. Likewise, a Gartner survey in early 2023 demonstrated that by 2025, most supply chain managers would view cybersecurity risk as a significant detriment to conducting third-party transactions.

There is a lot of concern about cybercrime, driven by the fact that the supply chain cannot afford downtime and delays due to a security breach. Manufacturers, transportation, and logistics are major targets for this type of crime, especially when running operations around the clock. With that in mind, implementing safety measures is critical.

Preventing Cybercrime in the Supply Chain

Start with the most important thing first: assess your risk. With a proliferation of cloud-based computing and connectivity with partners, the Internet of Things (IoT), and automation that now includes sensors feeding up to the cloud, you’ve likely got some spots of vulnerability.

Work closely with your IT department and technology partners to assess your vulnerability and then address those risks. These can include phishing via email or phone, malware designed to disrupt your computers or network, and ransomware. The latter can be extremely damaging to the supply chain. By encrypting sensitive data and then holding companies hostage until they pay a ransom, the shutdown of operations can add up to big losses. Check-in with your partners to ensure their cybersecurity measures are up to snuff and include your expectations on that in your contracts.

With risks identified, you need to plug those holes. Install the essential tools for protection, including antivirus software, encryption, firewalls, and other measures. You can also ensure your building is secure as an outer layer of protection. Within your four walls, assess who can access servers, ports, and other critical equipment. Implement an access management plan, multifactor authentication system, and other safety protocols.

Your cybersecurity plan shouldn’t end there, however. You also need to educate and re-educate your staff on a regular basis. Cybercriminals get more sophisticated every year, so measures that worked yesterday might be dated by tomorrow. A phishing effort could easily catch an employee off guard, for instance, and compromise your entire network.

Train your employees on the threats circulating at any given moment and teach them how to protect against them. Collaborate with your vendor partners and IT department to provide this training and bring them in on a regular schedule to keep employees in the know. Cybercriminals work hard at staying ahead of security measures, so ensuring threat awareness levels are always high is key.

Cybercrime is a very real threat to supply chains. Take it seriously and act now, before it’s too late.