In 2016, something happened that has likely never happened before. One world power hacked into the databases of another world power in such a way that they were able to influence the outcome of the presidential election. No, that’s not conspiracy theories. It really happened.
This is what happens when everything is so interconnected. Yes, there is convenience in the continuing flow of data. Anyone who is old enough to remember when data was transmitted from place to place in batches can attest to this fact. Now data flows freely, not just from computer to computer, but device to advice, even appliance to appliance. This causes significant risk everywhere, including in supply chain management. Fortunately, there are some steps that can be taken to secure the supply chain
First Understand Where The Risks Are
According to a survey conducted by SCM World, the majority of executives are (37% of those expressing concerns in the named area) are most concerned with supply chain breeches related to incidents occurring in information technology, and data security.
Significant levels of concern are also expressed in the areas of shipping and logistics, and intellectual property. There are many other fears outlined in the graphic, and most of them are likely influenced by the increase in hacking incidents as well as perceived future risk.
Vet Out Your Suppliers
Unfortunately, in supply chain management, you can do everything right, but you are still at risk. This is because everything connects together like… well, a chain. Criminals, other governments, militaries, unscrupulous businesses, etc. are on the lookout for weaknesses in that chain. When bringing acquiring new materials and services, know who you are working for.
Ask them the right questions. Know who they are doing business with, and whether or not they are aligned with countries that are not friendly or concerned with the interests of your company or your country.
If you want to ensure that software vendors won’t let you down either, it’s worth setting up an escrow deposit for the source code and/or license. In that case, even if the vendor goes out of business at some point, you would still be able to run your business smoothly.
Involve Supply Chain Management Teams in Information Security
Many organizations are very concerned with data security risks that come as the result of users abusing their access or doing foolish things that put them at risk for phishing, social engineering, or simply doing something that allows unauthorized access to data by a nefarious entity.
In spite of the fact that purchasing, selling, and transferring goods and services involves huge amounts of data, the risk is often not even considered. For example, an organization might block users in the customer service department from downloading a social media app because of security risk (nothing wrong with this per se: employees are definitely the cause of many security risks), but won’t do its due diligence in mitigating supply chain risk.
Not only should supply chain teams be considered when making data security policy, they should be subject to rigorous auditing as well.
Be Prepared to Spend Money
This may be something that you cannot handle in house. If your supply chain consists of vendors and suppliers from multiple countries, for example that may be more than your in house IT security staff is up for. An information security consultant specializing in supply chain risk management will be able to analyze your current situation and provide the advice and solutions that can help you mitigate your security risks.
Unfortunately, there is no way to completely eliminate the risks that simply exist in supply chain management. As long as you are involved in the process of buying or selling, you cannot avoid being exposed to some level of risk. Fortunately, by educating yourself, being vigilant, and investing in the right kind of help, you can help to ensure the safety of your data.