Approximately 2,000 global organizations are believed to have been affected by the attack on US-based Kaseya by the ransomware group REvil in July 2021. (Source: Washington Post, July 3, 2021)
In today's digital world, companies rely heavily on digital supply chains to deliver products and services efficiently. While this may come with numerous benefits, it also exposes businesses to various cybersecurity risks. The rise in cyberattacks targeting supply chains has created a pressing need for organizations to audit their digital supply chain processes regularly. Inevitably, supply chains come under attack from cybercriminals. But, the good news is that the risk of attack can be managed and minimized.
In this blog post, we will explore the importance of auditing your digital supply chain for cybersecurity and how it can help safeguard your business from costly data breaches and other security incidents. But, before diving into the main topic, let's turn our attention to the basics.
What is a digital supply chain?
A typical supply chain includes processes such as the flow of goods, product design, sourcing and procuring raw materials and parts, manufacturing the product, estimating demand, marketing the final product, taking orders, arranging logistics and sales channels, and finally delivering the final product to customers. Here, items tend to travel in a straight line, with each step reliant on the one before it. A failure to perform by a provider along the chain could go undetected for days or weeks. As a result, deadlines are frequently missed and customers are dissatisfied.
A digital supply chain, on the other hand, provides significantly more visibility into the chain's operations. With close to real visibility of supplier performance and customer needs, supply chain owners can develop effective relationships with more suppliers, safeguarding themselves against most sources of disruption. Digital supply chain achieves this by using advanced technologies and better insights into the operations of each stakeholder along the chain.
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What happens in Cyber Attacks on Digital Supply Chains?
During a supply chain attack, an attacker gains access to your data by way of one of your vendors or partners. Cyber Attackers have enormous opportunities to exploit these kinds of attacks. Even a single attack on a vendor or supplier can result in sensitive data being revealed across multiple organizations. An organization's IT and software systems can be vulnerable to cyber threats, such as malware attacks, piracy, unauthorized ERP access, and unintentional or maliciously inserted backdoors in purchased, open-source, and proprietary software.
What is the source of potential risks?
Potential risks in this regard may originate from the following sections of your digital supply chain:
An entity that provides products or services to your organization for daily operations, or that provides those products or services on your behalf (such as technology vendors and suppliers of critical components/products) is known as a third-party vendor/supplier. Third parties can pose a risk to all organizations, especially those that depend heavily on digital connectivity. As per a report by Gartner, 66% of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) executives included at least one third-party risk in their top 10 risks.
Vendors and suppliers that are independent of your own company fall into this category. Most companies outsource parts of their operations to vendors and suppliers. These vendors and suppliers, in turn, outsource to other vendors and suppliers. A larger ecosystem increases your attack surface and potential vulnerabilities.
Many organisations struggle to understand their complex digital supply chains and the myriad vendor relationships supporting their operations - especially those that access IT systems. Cyber risks increase with the expansion of a company's digital supply chain, regardless of how it is defined.
What can you do to mitigate this risk?
As more attacks on critical technology vendors and organisations' digital supply chains occur, it is more important than ever to understand what the term "digital supply chain" means, how the term is interpreted within your organisation, and what types of cyber risks emerge from your crucial third-party vendors and digital supply chain.
You may consider the following-
- Get a plan ready for responding to a security incident. Train all members of your digital supply chain on this plan.
- Incorporate security requirements into important supply chain contracts and documents, such as RFPs.
- Improve your security measures with things like access control measures, encryption and data backups. By enhancing the security of your digital supply chain, you can make it more difficult for attackers to intrude into your system.
- Monitor closely who all have access to your systems and data, and how that access is controlled. Make sure you have proper authentication and authorization mechanisms in place.
- Audit how sensitive data is stored, transmitted and processed throughout your digital supply chain. Make sure it is properly encrypted.
How can a cybersecurity audit help you?
A cybersecurity audit can help you identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities in your digital supply chain that could be exploited by cybercriminals. By identifying these vulnerabilities, you can take steps to mitigate them and reduce your risk of attack.
How to create a comprehensive plan for auditing and monitoring
When it comes to ensuring cybersecurity best practices in the digital supply chain, auditing and monitoring are essential. It will help you identify potential security vulnerabilities. By creating a comprehensive plan for auditing and monitoring your digital supply chain, you can proactively protect your business from cyber threats.
Here are some key considerations for creating an effective auditing and monitoring plan:
- Identify the assets in your digital supply chain that need to be audited and monitored on an urgent basis.
- Establish the criteria for assessing the security of these assets. For example, you can change default passwords on devices, limit user capabilities and encrypt communications.
- Select appropriate audit and monitoring tools.
- Implement the auditing and monitoring plan.
- Regularly review and update the plan as needed.
In addition to monitoring the risk exposure, you should focus on due diligence and awareness towards cyber security incidents. By staying up to date on the latest cyber threat trends, you can ensure that your organization always remains secure. If organizations want both functionality and security within a digital supply chain, prevention is the best form of defence.
Read about cyber liability in detail