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How to Prepare for a Surge in Supply-Chain Cyberattacks
Mon, 18th Mar 2024

Facing a constantly evolving cyberthreat landscape, many businesses are expecting a sharp rise in the number of supply-chain attacks.

A recent poll undertaken by Deloitte found nearly half (44.9%) of senior executives anticipate a rise in supply-chain attacks in the coming year. This surge is attributed to a convergence of factors, including growing digital interconnectedness, a rapidly evolving threat landscape, and increasingly sophisticated adversaries.

The poll also found that around a third (33.8%) of respondents had already experienced at least one supply-chain cyber incident within the past year, highlighting the vulnerability of interconnected supplier networks. These attacks pose a significant risk to business continuity and data integrity.

Turning disruption into opportunity
However, disruptions - whether caused by cyberattacks, natural disasters, or other unforeseen events - can also serve as a catalyst for positive change. Businesses are leveraging these disruptions to re-evaluate existing security strategies and bolster their resilience.

Recent high-profile supply-chain breaches have underscored the critical need for businesses to fortify their defences. Leaders are prioritising strengthening supply chains against potential threats to mitigate disruption and safeguard their bottom line.

Several strategies are being implemented to build proactive capabilities for detecting and mitigating supply-chain threats. The most crucial step is achieving a comprehensive understanding of the entire supply chain. This is not just from a logistics perspective but also in terms of safeguarding against malicious actors seeking to exploit vulnerabilities.

Third-party risk assessments
Third-party risk assessments are also essential for gaining valuable insights into the security practices and vulnerabilities of vendors and partners. These assessments comprehensively evaluate various aspects of third-party operations, including cybersecurity protocols, data handling practices, regulatory compliance, and incident response capabilities.

By undertaking thorough assessments, businesses can identify potential risks associated with third-party partners, such as weak security measures that could be exploited by attackers. Companies can then leverage contractual agreements to impose stringent security requirements on their vendors and partners, ensuring adherence to industry-leading security frameworks and compliance with relevant regulations.

Regular audits and clear communication are key
Regular audits are another critical aspect of managing third-party risk. These audits validate compliance with security requirements and identify any gaps or deficiencies that need to be addressed.

Establishing clear communication channels with third-party partners is also crucial for facilitating information sharing and collaboration on security issues. This includes protocols for reporting security incidents, sharing threat intelligence, and coordinating response efforts in the event of a supply chain breach.

Improving visibility and leveraging advanced tools
Forward-thinking businesses are adopting a proactive approach to cybersecurity by improving visibility into their supply chains. This includes implementing robust security controls and best practices across all stages of the supply-chain lifecycle.

Additionally, some businesses are leveraging advanced threat intelligence tools and analytics to proactively identify vulnerabilities and anomalous activities within their supply-chain ecosystem.

Bringing a managed security services provider (MSSP) on board can also significantly enhance supply-chain security by augmenting internal capabilities and expertise. MSSPs offer specialised services and technologies designed to detect, prevent, and respond to evolving threats across the supply chain.

Practical steps for building more resilient supply chains
There are several practical steps that can be taken to strengthen supply chains and mitigate potential disruptions. They include:

  • Mapping the supply chain: Identify all suppliers and third-party relationships, including IT infrastructure providers and non-IT vendors.
  • Assessing supplier criticality levels: Organise suppliers based on criticality (low, medium, and high) considering factors such as contract value, data volume, and access levels.
  • Tailoring security assessments: Develop security assessments aligned with criticality levels and risk appetite.
  • Standardising discovery questions: Establish a foundational set of questions to understand how each supplier's services impact your business.
  • Setting cybersecurity expectations: Set clear pass/fail criteria for chosen security frameworks and tailor them to criticality levels.
  • Confirming reassessment frequency: Determine how often to reassess suppliers based on criticality and data sensitivity.
  • Seeking external validation: Consider external assessments to benchmark against industry best practices and gain insights into your cybersecurity posture.

To navigate the impending surge in supply-chain cyberattacks, businesses must adopt a proactive approach to cybersecurity. Implementing robust strategies for detecting and mitigating threats, along with collaboration across the supply chain, are essential for building a more secure and resilient future.