The sharing and tracking of supply chain data are revamping the way companies handle goods. Today, visibility into supply chain logistics is helping stakeholders understand deficiencies in their processes and mitigate risks. However, visibility is also creating additional risks.

By connecting disparate data systems, the value of increased supply chain visibility is realized, so this trend necessarily carries inherent dangers with it. Any time more databases, platforms and human users are involved, it means a rise in the chances that a data breach or cybersecurity event will take place because potential attack surfaces likewise expand. 

Given visibility’s essential place in the modern supply chain, chief information security officers (CISOs) must design new processes to cope with the situation. Here are a few ways CISOs can safeguard visibility while mitigating cybersecurity risks in the supply chains for physical goods.

1. Conduct Proactive Audits

Security audits are critical to modern organizations. However, most security audits follow a preset path and schedule. As such, they fail to take the evolving threat landscape into account. Conducting random and proactive audits is the best way to validate the mesh of interconnected systems for security purposes.

Make sure you routinely check for configuration errors. Given the web of APIs that modern supply chain systems rely on, configuration errors offer the easiest path for a malicious actor to compromise your network. 

Make sure you define the scope of your audit before beginning. For instance, you can confine your audit to specific systems or functionalities. Document your previous baselines so that you’re always comparing the right systems to each other.

Given the complexity behind modern cybersecurity systems, it’s best to break your security audits into smaller pieces and conduct them regularly. Make sure you promptly address any issues you discover.

2. Embed Security into App Development

Your development team will be stressed given the demands of agile delivery. Security teams often intervene at preset points and end up hindering a continuous release schedule. This process sets security up as a hurdle to overcome instead of a central part of your organization.

The best way to change this picture is to embed security personnel within scrum teams. These team members can create security-validated code templates for future development, making security validation simple. You can also automate security sanity checks to ensure all production code is released following stated security guidelines.

Another way of promoting greater developer-security team collaboration is holding workshops and skillshares. Developers usually do not have security backgrounds. These workshops will help them understand security teams’ points of view and vice-versa.

Use automated testing tools to quickly validate code for security purposes. These tools, combined with pre-validated code templates, will embed security into development from the beginning.

3. Vet Vendors with Extra Vigilance

Vendor systems pose some of the biggest threats to supply chain systems. Corrupted data or malware in a third-party system can compromise your network. While encryption at source and VPN connections mitigate these risks considerably, you must go further.

Validate your logistics partners’ and suppliers’ systems for security and publish security best practices. If you work with upstream vendors such as procurement companies, you can specify the standards you want them to follow. 

Note that some companies will be unable to adhere to these requirements due to budgetary constraints. In such situations, you can pick alternative vendors or offer them secure access, pre-validated for security. For instance, you can stage their data on an external system that you own, validate it for security, and load it onto your systems. 

This way, you’re always in control of your data and eliminate the risk of malicious code entering your network.

Check and monitor your network endpoints for corrupted data. From an organizational perspective, including cybersecurity standards as a part of vendor evaluation is critical. After all, on-time deliveries aren’t of much use if your systems are compromised via malware from a vendor.

4. Monitor Upstream Vulnerabilities

Often, upstream systems will face security incidents that threaten your network. Encrypting data at the source is the best way of preventing data breaches. Inspect every connected system for security best practices. 

If third-party partners own these systems, you must vet them for security by asking for an independent audit or certification.

Keep communication lines open to your upstream systems. This process will help you monitor security events and take mitigative action if necessary. Automating security alerts and mandating constant communication during a crisis is also a good idea.

You can enforce these standards by requiring all vendors and third-party systems to sign off on them. Monitor entry points into your network as well. VPN-secured access is a basic requirement these days. Leverage data analytics to monitor third-party activity on your network and watch out for anomalies.

5. Centralize Reporting

Cybersecurity teams rely on a vast web of tools to monitor their networks. 

Centralize reporting via a security operations center (SOC) solution or equivalent. These systems make it simple for you to classify network threats and risks. You can prioritize your security incident response by evaluating the risk behind a compromised asset.

For instance, is a customer data breach riskier than a malware attack on a small portion of your network? Classify every network asset and endpoint based on risk and monitor them accordingly. 

A centralized reporting tool can give you context from an organizational perspective and help you address root causes quickly.

A Dynamic Process

Cybersecurity in the supply chain is challenging due to the constant stream of data your systems receive. The practices listed in this article will help you achieve a dynamic security posture that evolves with the threats you face.