A supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
The strength of a chain does not lie in its individual links, but in the way they are connected. The same applies to a supply chain. Each component must be strong and reliable in itself, but the real test is its ability to function as a whole, with all its parts working perfectly together.
With the increasing dependence on global and complex supply chains for materials and products, companies today are exposed to a number of security threats that can have serious consequences.
A breach of the supply chain can lead to financial losses, damage to the company's reputation and even harm to its customers.
In 2021, BlueVoyant, a provider of IT security services and solutions, reported that 98% of the organisations surveyed said they had been affected by a supply chain security breach.
According to ENISA (Eurpoean Cybersecurity Agency), 58% of the incidents analysed last year involved vendors who were mainly targeted to gain access to their customers' data, including Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and intellectual property.
And in 2022, in a global study of over 1,000 Chief Information Officers, 82% of respondents said their organisations were vulnerable to cyber attack attempts targeting supply chains
Among the factors that concern companies when it comes to managing cyber risk from their suppliers, the main ones are:
- The large size of corporate supply chains, which may include hundreds or thousands of suppliers for a single company.
- Differences in cybersecurity requirements between vendors' countries
- Insufficient preparation, awareness and resourcing of vendors to implement effective cybersecurity practices.
- A lack of attention to supplier security on the part of departments such as procurement, which often do not specify security requirements in their requests for tenders.
- To effectively reduce the risk of security breaches of suppliers, it is important to adopt the risk management measures described below:
How, then, to focus an effective strategy to consider suppliers an important component of one's 'attack surface'?
Strengthening measures to increase supply chain security
Auditing suppliers is an important first step in ensuring the security of your supply chain. Identify the suppliers most at risk and consider their role in the supply of critical components that your company would find difficult to replace in the event of failure or disruption.
Introducing 'security' in RFPs
Traditionally, departments such as purchasing that issue requests for proposal (RFPs) to suppliers have focused on the type, quality and delivery time of the components ordered, without considering safety. Now, however, it is crucial that companies prioritise safety in their RFPs and consider it a necessary condition for doing business with their suppliers. If a particular mission-critical supplier does not have the resources to meet security requirements, the company is required to develop a plan to help it become compliant. In addition, companies must regularly audit their suppliers' security to ensure that the necessary improvements are being made.
Raising the organisation's awareness of supply chain risk management
Although IT departments are typically responsible for security management, it is important to ensure that other parts of management, including the purchasing department, are also aware of security and consider it a priority.
To this end, the CIO should endeavour to engage in dialogue with other colleagues in the management team and with the board of directors. This ensures that everyone is fully committed to implementing and supporting an effective security management process, including through the necessary financial investments.
Implementing tools to ensure supply chain security
In addition, IT can make use of software tools to improve supply chain security. Some options include, for example:
- Software framework for supplier evaluation: Commercial software is available that provides customisable security questionnaire templates to help identify high security risk suppliers
- Automatic assessment of the attachment surface: Automated tools for objective measurement of potential threats arising from misconfigurations of the supplier's digital perimeter (email, website, access to test databases with your data, etc.)
- Shared remediation plans: It cannot be enough to have carried out an initial analysis, but it is important to develop an action plan based on the results obtained, including a list of actions to be taken in a shared manner with your supplier, from the most urgent to those that can wait.
In summary, the preparation of a comprehensive supply chain security management plan is essential to protect against this type of risk.
By implementing proactive measures, regularly monitoring vulnerabilities and having a response plan in place, companies can protect themselves, their customers and their reputation.
How Cyberangels helps you
The new solution Cyberangels - Third Party Risk Management (CBR - TPRM) can help you manage and automate the steps described in this article.
CBR - TPRM was born from the experience gained over the years, from having helped thousands of professionals, micro and small to medium-sized enterprises to become more resilient to cyber risk, without spending a fortune. The solution features:
- A web platform, accessible from any device and without installation.
- One automated tool for performing due diligence on suppliers, with the possibility of integrating it into their own systems.
- A integrated dashboard which allows you to monitor all relevant data relating to each supplier.
- A proprietary engine for calculating Vendor Cyber Rating which analyses the main factors affecting the health of a supplier, the level of cyber risk management and the level of dependence on the customer, calculated on the basis of automatic assessment and sector trends, i.e. information concerning the company's position in relation to the relevant sector.
If you still have any doubts about how to undertake a proper risk audit of your suppliers, we hope this article has provided you with enough information to understand why it is important and how to get started.
For any additional information, contact our team. Let Cyberangels you differentiate yourself from the competition: keep focusing on your business challenges, we'll take care of your security!