What Are the Threats to Your Supply Chain?

Cyber risks and digital threats don’t just exist within your own organisation. There are threats all throughout the supply chain. That’s why carefully vetting your partners is absolutely essential. 

When we think about cyber security and digital risk management, we tend to think about our own internal processes and procedures, don’t we? Of course we do. But the truth is that there’s much more to consider to keep a business as safe and secure as possible. As well as having confidence in our own cyber security status, we also need to have confidence all the way along the supply chain. 

Cyber risks and digital threats don’t just exist within your own organisation. There are threats throughout the supply chain. That’s why carefully vetting your partners is absolutely essential. 

And sadly, that’s something that’s often overlooked. 

Government reports show that only 12% of UK businesses review the level of risk posed to them by their immediate suppliers. And even fewer – just 5% – consider threats from the wider supply chain. Supply chain attacks, however, are very real. And they could have a huge impact on your business. 

What is a supply chain attack?

Somewhat ironically, a supply chain attack is most likely to occur when your own cyber defences are rock solid. The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity even states that ‘an organisation could be vulnerable to a supply chain attack even when its own defences are quite good’. 

When an attacker is unable to gain access to your network, they work their way down the supply chain until they find a weak link. They then exploit this vulnerability to gain access, and work their way back up – internally – to your own network, taking advantage of your trusted B2B relationships. 

There are two very common types of threat in the supply chain:

1. Data breach

A data breach in the supply chain occurs when an attacker accesses supplier networks to steal sensitive and confidential information relating to the organisations that the supplier works with.

2. Malware attack

A malware attack in the supply chain occurs when an attacker gains access to a supplier network and uses this trusted network to deliver malware – malicious software – to other organisations. 

These are, unfortunately, very real threats. According to PwC research, more than half of all businesses have suffered some sort of breach or cyber security event caused by a supplier

And it’s not just the little guys that are at risk. Over in the United States, major supermarket chain Target found themselves losing the information of 100 million customers. The cause? They’d partnered with a small heating and air conditioning company that failed to follow best digital security practices. 

How to reduce your risk

The good news is that there are a few ways to reduce your risk. Our advice is to…

1. Maintain good security practices

While an attacker may use a weak link in your supply chain to get closer to your valuable data, the more secure your data is, the less likely they will succeed in their efforts. We can’t always control the processes that our suppliers use, but we can ensure we’re always following best security practices. 

2. Minimise access to sensitive data

While other businesses across the supply chain will require access to some data, it’s important to ensure that you’re only sharing information that is absolutely necessary, with the least amount of people possible. The fewer people that have access to your data, the more secure it will stay.

3. Train your team

It’s important for everyone in your team to understand how to share information with suppliers safely, and how to identify the earliest signs of a potential threat quickly. If you haven’t already done so, make sure that every member of your team has undergone dedicated cyber training. 

Most importantly – choose your partners wisely

Managed service providers have access to customer networks, making them very attractive targets for hackers who are looking to attack an organisation through its supply chain. That’s why we believe it’s absolutely crucial that you do your research when selecting the right MSP for you. Here at Reliable Networks, we are committed to following best practices, and working only with suppliers that share that commitment. To find out more about how we’re actively and consistently reducing our own risk to keep our customers safe and protected, contact us: hello@reliablenetworks.co.uk

Gregory Olczyk

Gregory Olczyk