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Protecting Your Supply Chain Against Cyber Attacks

Protecting Your Supply Chain Against Cyber Attacks
Lauren Mecchella Plate - Friday, August 11, 2017

Post by Zaira Cedano

In light of recent cyber attacks, which have impacted companies in the industry on a global scale, the need to protect your business from such attacks is heightened. As your supply chain grows and you look towards technology to create greater efficiency and organization, it’s important to pay special attention to cyber security. According to a study conducted by Deloitte earlier this year titled “Cyber risk in advanced manufacturing”, it was found that cyber breaches are on the rise and will only continue to increase.

Fortunately, there are some things that can be done to stay a few steps ahead of cyber criminals. We’ve done our research, and have compiled what we believe to be the best high-level advice from the cyber security experts. Here are a few things you can do protect your business and supply chain:

Know the Risks

Whether you are a small traditional manufacturer or a large company, you may be vulnerable to cyber attacks that can affect or even destroy your business. Knowing the potential risks and sources of problem areas is crucial in securing your business. Some possible threats to supply chain cyber security are:

  • Network or computer hardware with malware already installed in it.
  • Malware that can be installed via USB thumb drive or other means.
  • Weaknesses in software applications and networks within the supply chain that can be exploited by hackers.
  • Counterfeit computer hardware.

As the manufacturing and supply chain sector moves toward more modern, connected digital supply networks and smart factories, this opens it up to unique cyber risks. Within a digital supply network there is a great amount of information being shared across an entire supply chain grid, connected to various participants. Not only is the shared information at risk of being stolen, but even smart machines and devices can be taken over and made to malfunction.

Create a culture of security

Who says it’s only your IT department’s job to keep your information safe? A simple practice that can be very effective is encouraging secure internet practices among employees at every level. Be sure to have a formal internet policy in place and inform users on what is prohibited use on office devices. Emails maybe a particular hotspot by which viruses and malware can be downloaded. Employees should be informed of what to look for in suspicious emails and how to prevent viruses from entering your computer systems.

The basics

This may go without saying, but having users create a strong password, one that contains a combination of alphanumeric characters with lower and uppercase letters, can be a simple way to prevent hackers from entering your network. Getting into the habit of shutting your computers off at the end of your day is also good practice since leaving it on (especially connected to the internet) is an invitation for cyberattack. Further, always ensure that your company’s firewall is up to date which will prevent dangerous programs, spyware or viruses from infecting your system. Finally, automate your system updates. They often contain important security updates that will protect your computer from newly discovered threats.

Encrypt data

So you’ve taken all the measure to protect the frontlines, what’s next? You might want to consider data encryption. Simply put, the National Cybersecurity Institute describes encryption as “taking data that is readable and making it unreadable to humans”. It can be used to protect your sensitive information by making it difficult decode. There are different types of encryption methods you may want to look into.

Build security assurance into third party agreements

Some final things to consider once you’ve made sure your company is protected internally, are potential breaches that can originate from partners and third party service providers. If and when possible, it may be beneficial to include cyber security assurance into third party agreements. Set up which partners get to have access to which sensitive information, with their assurance that it’s protected from unauthorized viewing.

Cyber security is a constant threat and with changes in technology, the threat also changes. By ensuring you’ve taken the right measures to protect your business, you can be can keep your supply chain and information secure.