Thanks to 21st Century technology, companies and businesses of any size can take advantage of far-reaching supply chains, and continued advances will continue to make it easier to do so.
In terms of security though, galloping technology development can be considered both a blessing and a curse. After all, before supply chain technology took off, executives had only to consider physical security risks such as property break-ins, internal pilfering, and truck/trailer hijackings.
But now the environment is completely different and, as some large supply chain organisations have found out in recent years, digital security breaches can be far more devastating than physical ones.
The Imperative to Secure Supply Chain Cyberspace
Supply chain technology, for all its advantages, brings with it a whole new facet of security to consider—one which involves threats from the outside and from within.
What’s more, supply chain technology is characteristically a realm (in a typical supply network comprising many businesses partnerships) over which an individual organisation has but a fraction of the overall control.
Where security in the supply chain once applied primarily to inventory protection (although Freddy Heineken would have begged to differ), you now have the responsibility of keeping your customers’ data, identities and financial assets secure, as well as those of your company, your business partners, and your suppliers.
Indeed, without effective security, supply chain technology can provide an inviting back door for those who seek unauthorised access to sensitive personal and corporate data.
Threats Inherent in Supply Chain Technology
As an executive then, especially if you are a CIO/CTO or Chief Supply Chain Officer, I’d be surprised if you haven’t had at least one or two sleepless nights over the integrity of your supply chain technology systems.
If you haven’t really thought too much about the issue though, there’s never a bad time to start, and perhaps to consult with peers in your executive network for ideas on security improvement. If you need an inducement to do so, consider the horrors waiting to exploit poorly secured supply chain technology applications. Such nasties include, but are not limited to:
- Username and password theft or loss
- SQL injection hacks which give attackers access to your databases
- White collar cybercrime (theft of data by internal staff, for example)
- Accidental leaks of sensitive data into the public domain
- Malicious software designed to damage files or siphon off proprietary data into an attackers hands
- Sabotage by way of DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks which shut down or damage systems
All or any of these threats if realised, can expose your business to the losses (and unwanted publicity) associated with stolen data or intellectual property. Worse still, the problems might not originate in your own supply chain technology infrastructure, but in those of a supplier or other business partner.
Specific entry points for unauthorised data access (whether through attack or accidental data exposure) can include:
- Global data transmission routes
- Supplier relationships
- Fragmented security protocols across supply chain partnerships
- Outdated software or hardware
- Business information systems serving non-supply-chain functions
Somehow then, your executive team needs to ensure these threats are mitigated and protected against. For example, supplier and partner evaluations should probably include data-security checks, as well as a risk assessment of potential system interfaces and data transfer channels.
Are You Doing Enough to Secure Your Supply Chain Data?
Unless you are an expert in IT security, the intricacies of supply chain technology and data protection can be tough to grasp, but as a senior leader in your company it’s essential to consider the issue at a strategic level.
By all means look inside your own organisation for inspiration, but don’t forget to tap the knowledge of leaders in other companies too.
Our Supply Chain Leaders Boardroom program is designed to help you do just that. SCLB offers invaluable opportunities for senior-level insight into the topics you care most about, in an environment where everyone’s input is welcomed and valued.
After joining the program, you might even persuade us to invite a panel of supply chain and IT security specialists to share their knowledge with you—and your new network of executive peers.
Are you ready to learn more about SCLB? If so, you can browse the pages here on our website or contact us with your questions via our quick and easy online enquiry form.