No matter what sector your business operates in, managing and mitigating cybersecurity risks in your supply chain is vital. This ensures your business is compliant with regulations, and that your people, operations, and profits are protected. The cybersecurity risks that firms are exposed to are constantly evolving. New threats and technologies emerge and attacks become more sophisticated and sustained. It’s a challenging situation, but it’s one that must be dealt with.
Depending on the resources available, businesses might manage cybersecurity risk in-house or outsource it to experts. This article explores some high-level strategies for managing cybersecurity risk in the supply chain that can be incorporated into an internal risk management strategy or be used to form a plan with an external cybersecurity provider.
Get an understanding of the risks your company is exposed to
Cyber attacks can come from a variety of sources and be committed for a number of reasons including financial fraud, information theft, and disrupting critical infrastructure. The three most common risks that affect supply chain companies include data leaks, supply chain breaches, and malware attacks.
Take each of these risks in turn and consider how your organization might be viewed by potential cybercriminals. Are you storing sensitive information such as customer or financial data or could be attractive to a cybercriminal? Are there any contract terms or intellectual property that shouldn’t get in the wrong hands?
Create a plan for monitoring your cybersecurity risks
Once you have thoroughly evaluated and audited the risks your business is exposed to you can create a plan for monitoring each element. Unless you have a highly-specialist cyber risk department, monitoring threats such as network security monitoring and endpoint security monitoring should be done by experts. Though, even if you outsource this service you will probably need to work with them to ensure they understand the breadth of what needs to be monitored.
Develop a workflow for responding to cybersecurity risks
Cybercriminals strike quickly. As tactics become more sophisticated and attacks more strategic and frequent, it is vital to have a response plan in place. This is the ideal time to gather key stakeholders within your business and workshop a variety of different scenarios where cyber attacks might take place. Think about how the attacks might originate, who would be alerted or affected first, and why. What knock-on effects would this have on the organization, or to your suppliers/partners and how could these be mitigated.
When you have thought through all eventualities and considered every possible permutation and contingency you can identify the best course of action to deal with each attack. This should include who needs to be involved, internally or externally, and at what stage. It should also include how business continuity will be assured and what actions need to take place to control the attack.
As before, it is highly advisable to speak with cybersecurity experts about ensuring your processes and responses are optimized. You don’t want to discover flaws in your plan should an incident take place, after all.
Make sure your employees are prepared
Cyber attacks could affect anyone in your business, so everyone needs to be up to speed on your cybersecurity risk strategy, to a certain point. Phishing and email attacks are some of the most common attack routes so every member of staff needs to know how to recognize a suspicious email or set a secure password at least. Furthermore, by involving colleagues you will get insights from a variety of team members with different remits and different contact with the outside world. This will give you a far deeper understanding of the risks you are exposed to, and who can help mitigate them, and how.
Hold workshopping and employee information sessions throughout the process of developing your strategy and educate each member of staff in the most appropriate and relevant way. Every team member should understand their responsibilities and how they fit in with the wider cyber risk management strategy. You don’t want to frighten them unnecessarily so try to focus on prevention and early-stage mitigation tactics.
Supporting your staff when working under pressure is vital. Find out how to work more effectively in a crisis in our blog.
Review your cybersecurity strategy on a regular basis
We mentioned earlier how quickly the cyber risk landscape changes. It really is vital that you regularly assess and adapt your cybersecurity strategy to reflect changes in your business and the risks it is exposed to. To do this effectively you need to document your risk management process and get feedback from your teams on how it is working for them. Is there anything more you can do to understand your supply chain? Are there better solutions for storing your sensitive data? Would your employees feel more secure and prepared with further workshopping or training?
Get the right people on board, internally and externally, and take the time to get a good understanding of the risks you need to manage. Keep revisiting your strategy and keep talking to your employees. Cyber risk management is always going to be a challenge to procurement and supply chain professionals. But knowledge - as they say - is power. And prevention is always better than cure.
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