Your supply chain is a complex network of people, processes and technology that play a fundamental role in the operability of your business. Without it, productivity would cease — but is your current supply chain putting your business at risk?
According to a recent report conducted by PRG on behalf of Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review, 73% of those surveyed said that supply chain security was extremely or very important to their business. Despite this, just 7% would rate their current supply chain security as excellent. Although the majority of respondents believed their system was good or very good, 21% gave themselves a fair or poor rating.
Without the correct precautions in place, your supply chain could be at risk of numerous online threats, from security weaknesses to full-scale infiltrations.
Here are some of the key considerations around supply chain security:
Vet your vendors
As the saying goes, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. This is especially true of supply chain security; if the vendors in your supply chains aren’t adopting secure ways of working, you open your business to potential vulnerabilities. Even with your best security measures in place, you could still be exposing sensitive, business-critical data to fraudsters.
It may seem like an impossible eventuality, but if your vendors don’t make supply chain security a priority, hackers can exploit these weak practices and infiltrate your supply chain via the back door. Many companies have fallen victim to this in recent years — and many are high-profile, national brands.
For example, US discount store Target was targeted by hackers who accessed 110 million customers’ data and the information of 40 million payment cards through a breached connection to Fazio Mechanical Services, one of Target’s vendors. Through infiltrating Fazio Mechanical Service and stealing their network credentials, they could use them to access Target’s network and steal data over an extended period.
The above is one type of supply chain attack focused around the theft of employee or customer data. However, your business could also be vulnerable to hackers who what to disrupt your productivity. They could infiltrate your system and cause huge delays to both production and delivery, ultimately impacting the service you deliver to customers.
So, short of going back in time and relying on traditional supply chain management techniques, how can you ensure your vendors are up-to-speed when it comes to supply chain security? Look for vendors with strong security policies — those who enforce strong system-to-system authentication and work proactively, continuously reviewing their commitment to security. Their processes might not be perfect just yet, but a commitment to improvement is a good sign.
Of course, knowing each link in your supply chain is no mean feat, especially if your supply chain is long and complicated. Whereas large businesses and organisations have the budget to throw at examining each of their vendors’ security set-ups, it’s often not possible for SMEs. If this is the case, outsourcing is the answer. Enlist the help of a trusted IT supplier who can review not just the security of your supply chain, but your vendors too. Whatever your budget, action is essential — burying your head in the sand and ignoring crucial security flaws could leave your business vulnerable.
Commit to security
Although the security of vendor supply chains is a key consideration, you’ll also need to fully commit to your own supply chain safety. If your precautions are lacking, you risk becoming the weak link — putting your information and processes at risk, and acting as the pathway to the infiltration of others.
But how do you safeguard your supply chain? Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than adding a number and a special character to your password. Instead, your security needs to be a lot more stringent.
With a simple username and password system, anyone could be lurking around in your supply chain under the guise of an authorised party if the log-in details fall into the wrong hands. A more effective solution is multi-factor authorisation, where a code is sent to another device and is needed to log in.
Streamlining your supply chain is another option. For example, utilising a single software package — such as our manufacturing software — across your entire supply chain minimises the number of entry points for malicious attacks. Choosing one reputable, secure software package will provide one central portal for your data, making defending, monitoring and managing your data easier.
Restricting access to your data is also beneficial. Set restrictions that limit who can access your data and consider blocking USB or other recording media use should the threat be internal rather than external.
A common sense approach to supply chain security is essential. The supply chain is the lifeblood of your business and the information it holds is crucial to the smooth operation of your business. Just like you wouldn’t hand out your bank or personal details to a perfect stranger, take precautions now and ensure your supply chain remains secure both now and in the future.