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rotecting Data in a Digital Supply Chain

How to protect supply chain data in Digital Supply Chain

How to protect supply chain data? This question is coming frequently with the digitalization of logistics.  While digital supply chains have become critical, they’ve also become increasingly vulnerable to attacks. Here’s how to safeguard your data.

But first of all, let me share with you a quick story: 

Russian spies hack their way into US government computers. For months, they snoop around undetected. Then one day, they get sloppy and the massive espionage is uncovered. By then it’s too late; the US has experienced its largest security data breach ever.

Except this isn’t a story; it actually happened in December 2020. This security breach was a direct attack on supply chains. 

How did it happen? Sophisticated attackers slipped their own spy code into an IT update from a company called SolarWinds – a vendor that supplies network monitoring for the US government. 

So when government employees installed the SolarWinds update, they left the front door wide open to criminals.

We won’t know the full scale of the breach for a while. But it’s a massive wake-up call for all procurement professionals to look at their own supply chain cybersecurity.

Today, along with the tremendous opportunities it provides, the digital supply chain creates new risks. Data protection and cybersecurity are now essential parts of any supply chain risk management program.

Companies need to be concerned with protecting confidential business information and trade secrets and meeting data privacy regulations. Cybersecurity attacks can be devastating to business continuity, as well as to data loss.

Developing an effective program begins with assessing the risks and prioritizing what data and systems are most important to protect. In the case of data protection and cybersecurity, it is essential to assess the risk from two perspectives: data loss or compromise, and business continuity. Evaluate the negative impact of trade secrets going public, or critical inventory and shipping data being altered. But also evaluate the negative impact of being unable to send or receive payments or purchase orders.

It’s hard enough to manage the data loss and business continuity risks internally. Now add thousands of suppliers, distributors, and customers to the data flow in a digital supply chain. You should never think about cybersecurity without considering third-party risk. And conversely, the companies in your supply chain, even small ones, should never think they’re safe because you “don’t have anything hackers would want.”

Here are three tips that we believe can help secure digital supply chains.

PREVENT CYBER ATTACKS FIRST WITH A SECURITY-FOCUSED APPROACH. 

A supply chain system is a network that is connected with many vendors, suppliers, and organizations, and it will always be the case that one of those organizations has a weak security infrastructure.

IMPLEMENT SECURITY TECHNOLOGY.

Although the tools vary from one organization to another, a few are commonly used across industries. One is multi-factor authentication, which requires users accessing accounts or apps to provide additional identity verification, such as scanning a fingerprint or entering a code from an authentication application.

IMPLEMENT THE APPROPRIATE GOVERNANCE.

An organization must work side-by-side with its vendors and suppliers to reduce weak points in its network and prevent vulnerability to attacks. With strong governance, organizations in the supply chain should have a strong digital security infrastructure.

Furthermore, we cannot guarantee that our suggested security practices protect companies from malicious actors exploiting vulnerabilities that are not discovered by the cybersecurity community until they are exploited in an attack.

Even so, if companies take these steps, they will be able to repel the majority of attacks that target known and exploitable weaknesses. Businesses don’t need to feel powerless – they can handle this risk.

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