March 8, 2023 By Dimple Ahluwalia 3 min read

How a solution like IBM Security Supply Chain Cyber Risk Management Services can help protect supply chains that are vulnerable to a cyberattack chain reaction.

For cybercriminals, the supply chain presents an extremely enticing target. Comprised of multiple vendors, manufacturers and other third-party organizations (each with access to the same data and systems) there’s potential for a real domino effect of destruction when it comes to a data breach or cyberattack. One single successful cyberattack on a supply chain has the potential to not only significantly impact an organization’s operations but lead to disruption with business partners and financial losses across the board. That’s not even considering the long-lasting ramifications of reputational damage with both partners and consumers.

Cyberattacks in manufacturing and supply chains

According to the 2023 IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, manufacturing saw the highest number of extortion cases across all industries (at 30 %), and more than one-quarter of attacks overall were extortion-related—whether ransomware, business email compromise (BEC) or DDoS. With its low tolerance for downtime and sensitivities to double-extortion tactics, manufacturing makes an attractive target for cybercriminals.

More than half of security breaches are attributed to supply chain and third-party suppliers, at a high average cost of USD 4.46M. As a complex network that is constantly changing and evolving, it can be difficult for an organization to stay up to date on the latest cybersecurity threats and to identify potential vulnerabilities in their supply chain. When cyberattacks do occur, it can be challenging to determine which entity is the source of the security breach. Confusion can slow response time, and when it comes to a data breach, every second counts.

According to the IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, while there was a slight decline in ransomware attacks, the time to execute attacks dropped 94% over the last few years. What used to take months now takes attackers mere days. With attackers moving faster, organizations must take a proactive, threat-driven approach to cybersecurity.

So, why are supply chains so vulnerable? In short: the impact from a cyberattack or data breach is potentially devastating. Organizations in the supply chain know they are vulnerable, and so do the cybercriminals.

One of the best ways to guard against cyberattacks is to understand where and how they are happening. When considering cyber risk management, the various types of cybersecurity incidents that can adversely impact a supply chain are phishing attacks, malware infections, data breaches and ransomware attacks.

How to secure your supply chain

Securing your supply chain through cyber risk management is crucial in today’s digital landscape. Many organizations currently have a fragmented approach to supply chain security and are faced with challenges like risk identification and management, assessment of third-party software, limited threat intelligence for timely decision-making, and a lack of operational resilience. Taking a proactive approach that is well-defined, adaptive and optimized by data and AI is one of the most important things supply chains can do to bolster their cybersecurity stance.

To secure your supply chain, consider implementing the following five leading practices for developing a cyber risk management plan:

  1. Conduct risk assessments: Regularly assess the cyber risks associated with your supply chain—including the systems and processes used by your suppliers. Identify any vulnerabilities and prioritize the most critical ones with greater business impact for mitigation.
  2. Establish security protocols: Set clear security protocols for your suppliers, including guidelines for data protection, access control and incident response. Ensure that your suppliers have the necessary security measures in place, such as firewalls, encryption, strong passwords and multi-factor authentication.
  3. Implement continuous monitoring: Continuously monitor your supply chain for any security incidents, including hacking attempts, data breaches and malicious software infections. Establish an incident response plan in case a security breach occurs and periodically run tabletop or immersive exercises to strengthen muscle memory for when it comes time to execute the plan.
  4. Encourage supplier education: Most organizations educate their workforce on cybersecurity-related topics and practices to safeguard company data and assets. If structured learning is not offered by your supplier, consider options to either extend training and education to your suppliers on cybersecurity best practices and the importance of protecting sensitive data, or point them to free resources. Encourage them to adopt robust security measures and to be vigilant against cyber threats.
  5. Regularly review and update policies: Regularly review and update your cyber risk management policies to ensure they are up-to-date and relevant. This will help you stay ahead of evolving threats and maintain the security of your supply chain.

Learn more about IBM Security Supply Chain Cyber Risk Management Services

Securing your supply chain is a journey, and IBM can be your trusted partner. Launching today, IBM Security Supply Chain Cyber Risk Management Services can help organizations develop a comprehensive approach to identify and mitigate security and regulatory risks that their current and potential suppliers may carry.

Learn more about securing the supply chain in this upcoming webinar or schedule a consultation here.

Want to better understand how threat actors are waging attacks and learn how to proactively protect your organization? Read the full 2023 IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Index and view the Threat Intelligence Index Action Guide for insights, recommendations and next steps.

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