The Top Supply Chain Vulnerability: People

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The supply chains of this digital era are long and complex, and any disruptions caused by security threats will have a massive impact on the entire organization. While supply chains are prone to different types of external risks, such as supply disruption, high demand, financial instability, etc., businesses can usually plan against them and ensure continuity. What most businesses often overlook are the internal threats arising from malicious or negligent employees within a company.

The risk of someone infiltrating your systems through an external vendor is at an all-time high right now. Since you are not in direct control of the employees who work for your vendors, you might find it more difficult to mitigate the people risks in your supply chain. However, this does not mean that supply chain risks cannot be mitigated at all. With proper security awareness training extended to your vendors and the building of a resilient defense against various threats, supply chain risks can be reduced to a great extent.

The biggest vulnerability in a supply chain is the human element in it, so let’s discuss the different measures you can incorporate to overcome this risk.

Why Hackers Target Supply Chains

Cybersecurity risks targeting the supply chain of an organization have grown exponentially worse over the years. As the pandemic lockdown took effect, supply chain cybersecurity risks increased by about 80 percent during the second quarter of 2020, with remote working scenarios making things worse for suppliers. However, there are some specific reasons why hackers target the supply chains of large organizations.

With most large organizations now taking adequate precautions against various cyberthreats, gaining access through the front door isn’t as easy as it used to be for hackers. The supply chain, on the other hand, offers cybercriminals a creative way to infiltrate a large organization.

Small vendors often don’t have the budget to invest in extensive cybersecurity measures. Moreover, these companies are also likely to have legacy hardware and software products that can be exploited in an attack. As a result, these vendors tend to act as a conduit for cybercriminals to inflict a bigger attack on a large organization.

People Risks Originating From Supply Chains

The employees working in these supply chains often offer the path of least resistance to attackers. Although organizations have well-defined processes to vet and evaluate their suppliers and third-party vendors, it isn’t easy to measure the risks originating from the people who work for these companies. Moreover, organizations don’t have a centralized view of the third-party members accessing their applications and critical data.

An employee opening an email containing a malicious link and clicking on it can inject a botnet into the IT environment or download a ransomware program. These types of phishing emails can also be used to steal an employee’s login credentials or conduct social engineering attacks. Once these attackers gain a foothold in the IT environment of the vendor, they can use it as a backdoor entry to a larger organization and infiltrate their IT networks.

In addition to potential phishing scams, other activities like using unsecured Wi-Fi networks or personal devices for work in the supply chain can also create major security issues. Opportunistic cybercriminals look forward to exploiting any possible loophole in an organization’s security. When these threats carry forward from your vendor’s network to yours, it has the potential to disrupt your operations and damage your reputation.

Mitigating Internal Risks in the Supply Chain

Most organizations already have formal programs to assess and manage third-party risks. However, these programs are not always adequate to deal with employee risks. For instance, companies have questionnaires for their vendors regarding their security requirements. A survey by Riskrecon has estimated that only 14 percent of companies believe the questionnaire responses regarding security from their third-party vendors.

In this scenario, additional measures are required to deal with the human risks that third parties pose. Follow these measures to mitigate your risks:

  • Limit access to critical information: Many third-party users require access from your end to perform their tasks. However, this access must be limited to their job roles. You also need to have a full list of individuals accessing your information and the type of information they are accessing.
  • Extend security awareness training to vendors: The cybersecurity awareness training you have for your internal employees should also extend to members of your third-party vendors. There should be strict guidelines on security measures that should be followed by everyone accessing your data.
  • Create a backup strategy: One of the best ways of mitigating data security risks is by backing up your critical data. You need to be prepared for the worst possible scenarios and have a disaster recovery strategy to get your operations up and running immediately after an unexpected attack.
  • Audit your vendors regularly: Choosing your third-party vendors is not a one-and-done process. Regular audit of your vendors and business partners will expose new vulnerabilities in their systems.

Secure Your Critical Data

With supply chain risks at an all-time high, you need a trusted partner by your side to protect your data from all kinds of human threats emerging from the supply chain.

Our expertise in data security and storage can help you overcome supply chain obstacles and secure your data from all kinds of threats. Give us a call now!

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