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Cybersecurity Risks to Consider in Supply Chain Management


Global supply chain networks have been driven by technology over the years and have evolved accordingly. However, the same technology that makes supply chains faster and more effective also threatens their supply chain security

With threats and data breaches. around every corner, companies involved in the supply chain must understand internal and external risks and how to manage and respond to them in real-time.

What Are the Most Common Risks to Supply Chain Businesses?

The three most common risks affecting supply chain companies are data leaks, breaches, and malware attacks. Data leaks can happen through external and internal attackers. Employees, hackers, malicious competitors, and managers can leak sensitive data and personal information outside the business.

Security breaches usually occur when a hacker or malicious user infiltrates an operating system or network without permission. The target is often to cause chaos within the system through data deletion, replication, and corruption. 

Malware attacks can happen through ransomware that locks a computer until the business pays a sum of money. Viruses can infect the system, or trojans can gain access through a back door.

One single email phishing for information or that has a link that an employee clicks on can lead to data corruption and loss. If the phishing email is successful, the business could find a username and password used externally to gather information within the system. This could lead to unforeseen competition and serious leaks that can harm the entire corporation.

Case Studies of Previous Breaches

Previous supply chain breaches generally involved ransomware and other malware attacks. A ransomware attack could expose millions of customer's data, including social security numbers and mailing addresses. One such ransomware, Ryuk, arose in 2018 and targeted users through malicious emails. Like most ransomware, it locked out users from computers and stole their credentials. Files became encrypted, and the malware required a hefty ransom to return access to these computers. Demands were nearly $300,000 for each incident. If paid, the cybercriminal could still attack the same system again. Malicious actors will attack all types of businesses and organizations, including supply chain businesses.

TrickBot was another tool used. Originally a banking trojan, TrickBot eventually became a tool that led to cybercrimes involving the harvesting of credentials, crypto-mining, and ransomware. The tool also caused point-of-sale procurement of business data. By mining for cryptocurrency, a cybercriminal could increase personal wealth. However, ransomware incursions are similar to other breaches, which usually require payment to return the system to its user.

Another cyber attack involved BazarLoader and BazarBackdoor. In 2020, these would infect specific targeted systems. They would use social engineering and target collaborative platforms like Slack and BaseCamp by emailing employees at large organizations that said they offered important information about contracts, customer service, invoices, or payroll. These tools also introduced ransomware that demanded payment from the business.

How to Implement Cyber Security Strategies for Supply Chain

A cybersecurity strategy depends heavily on the supply chain company team's steps. The following four steps can help the company implement cybersecurity strategies to improve its risk management approach. 

  1. Fully understand supply chain management risks and threats. This step requires the team to review, learn, and keep track of all supply chain breaches, data leaks, and malware attacks that affect the company. What affects the supply chain management the most, what types of malware lead to the most devastation, and where to focus are all important factors to remember.
  2. Assess your cybersecurity measures. To adequately apply a risk-based strategy to prevent and adjust to system invasions, the cybersecurity team needs to know what measures are already in place and which are missing by running risk assessments. This assessment includes hardware to prevent or mitigate incursions, software used on network computers, education, AI, and purchased tools. This assessment also includes knowing where the company is going in the future regarding these measures.
  3. Improve current measures. After understanding what you already have and assessing how these tools can assist with cybercriminal attacks, you can improve the risk mitigation measures already in place. This may include purchasing a more advanced firewall. The strategy team may need to install or update the software on all computers or push the AI to a centralized location to learn how data affects the enterprise system.
  4. Treat cybersecurity as an ongoing process. Once you learn how to best increase security within the business against security incidents, you must document, review, and sift through feedback. The method of maximizing cybersecurity is forever changing. Once one attack is over, a new development may require upgrades to prevent future infiltrations.

Some ways to prevent a cyber attack include:

  • Watch for malicious users who are intent on infecting the system.
  • Double-check emails for possible phishing attempts.
  • Inform cybersecurity agents immediately if a threat is identified.
  • Use tools all employees can access to prevent unauthorized access, breaches, or data leaks.
  • Educate your entire staff on best practices to avoid cyberattacks. They are your first line of defense. 
  • Invest in protective tools that will guard against attacks. 
  • Work with cybersecurity experts to identify additional points of protection.
  • Always use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication.

Measures to Take During a Cyber Attack

The best way to respond to a cyber attack is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Businesses should take a multi-pronged risk-based approach to proactively securing their supply chains against cyber attacks. Investing in cybersecurity technology that covers the endpoints, network, and users, and combines the latest security technologies, you will create multi-layered protection that detects, prevents, and actively removes threats from their system.

Team leaders need to limit the access suppliers have to their systems. Companies should ensure that the supplier only has access to as much of the network as necessary to do their role.

Cybersecurity experts recommend the following five tips to prevent cyber attacks in the supply chain:

  • Limit the number of suppliers you use – It is a lot easier to manage a few outside parties instead of many. 
  • Develop a minimum cyber standard for suppliers – Put the cyber standard you want your suppliers to adhere to in your contract. Use a recognized third-party standard so everyone works to a standard set of rules.
  • Ensure your suppliers follow the standard – Regularly monitor your suppliers’ adherence to the standard.
  • Share information on how to improve – Let your suppliers know what you and others in your industry are doing to improve your data security so they can adopt similar measures.
  • Encourage open reporting – If a problem does arise, you want to know about it as quickly as possible. 

If you experience a breach, speed is the most crucial factor in mitigating the damage. When you have the right tools, you can quickly identify and respond to risks appropriately.

Protecting the Company from a Cyber Attack

You should remain open to additional suggestions and gather feedback from experts. An IT team with extensive knowledge of options will usually implement a plan with multiple approaches. Learn from mistakes, and do not skimp on the costs. Educate management about the latest threats and keep learning which attacks are prevalent in your security. Just as cybersecurity measures advance, so will these threats. 

Cybersecurity and the IT department are the lifeblood of any company that wants to prevent, mitigate and eliminate malware attacks, breaches, leaks, and infections. Additionally, if you learn from previous incursions, you will succeed. Widespread chaos, ransoms, and data corruption await those who do not invest in a solid strategy. Baseline your approach on gold-standard frameworks like the NIST Supply Chain Risk Management Framework.

David Lukić is an information privacy, security, and compliance consultant at The passion to make cybersecurity accessible and interesting has led David to share all the knowledge he has. 


This guest post was written and kindly submitted by David Lukić written for CyberSaint. To be featured as a guest author on the CyberSaint blog, please send submissions to

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