People are spending more and more time online at work, and the rise of remote work has brought with it an increased set of difficulties that companies and users must face every day to prevent cyberattacks and supply chain breaches. Many companies did not have time to adequately prepare their network for a large portion of their workforce moving to remote access, and the news has been full of supply chain and cybersecurity breaches since the start of the pandemic.
Concerningly, many of the breaches that have been located were breaches in key sectors such as the banking or healthcare sectors. This means that a vast amount of customer information was accessed by hackers and potentially shared with other parties. Consumers and business partners alike have expressed concern about these breaches and how simple it was for hackers to gain access to supposedly secure networks.
The trouble with these types of security risks is that attackers are clever, and they use a many-pronged attack style to gain access to sensitive networks. Hackers know that the weakest point for many organizations is their supply chain, and they target these weak points in the armor first. Supply chain cybersecurity seeks to prevent these kinds of attacks through the education of users and prevention of vulnerabilities within networks.
Read on to learn more about supply chain cybersecurity and how you can prevent supply chain breaches at your company.
Supply Chain Cybersecurity: Why is the Supply Chain Vulnerable?
Research into cybersecurity has revealed that the supply chain is often the most vulnerable point in any organization’s overall security. This is because vendor access to internal networks is often the cause of weaknesses that allows malware and unapproved access to a company’s internal network. Vendors and third-party entities are often allowed far too much access to company networks, and they are rarely held to the same standards as internal employees with regard to security protocols used when they access a company’s network.
Another problem with maintaining supply chain security is that there are many cooks in the kitchen, and not all of them will be educated enough or careful enough to follow the proper protocols to prevent a cyberattack. Employee education can only do so much, and vendors are not always provided with the proper information related to this kind of security risk. Education of higher-ups is also often slipshod, leading to incorrect use of security protocols or a lack of them altogether.
Gone are the days where you could just invest in a good firewall and then forget about other security concerns. Each email user and every vendor with an account to access your servers is a risk that requires careful attention, even under the best of circumstances. Major corporations have been brought to a standstill to deal with a ransomware or malware attack that was allowed access to their network through an accounting company working on their payroll or a vendor who was brought in to diagnose a computer issue. These types of risks are real and present, and they are part of running a business these days.
Even third-party software companies can be a potential risk, and many companies fail each year due to costs and other issues related to a breach that was initiated by a purchase of a third-party software product. These kinds of software products often store sensitive information, from customer information to proprietary company information or banking information.
While most of these products are not created with hacking in mind, they are also not created with the prevention of a cyberattack in mind either. Vetting each software product before you utilize it is an absolute must, but this is a step that many companies fail to take. Taking the time to properly vet each application or product that is allowed to access your network is essential to prevent supply chain breaches.
There is no easy way to recover from a breach that exposes customer information to hackers, and there is usually no way to recover trade or business information that has been leaked in this way. This means that your supply chain cybersecurity needs to hold up to the test each and every day, or your company will be at risk for a breach that could force you to shut your doors for good.
How are Supply Chain Breaches Found?
There are two primary ways that supply chain breaches are found. No one ever wants to locate a supply chain breach, but being able to find signs of a breach early is always the best policy.
The first way that a supply chain breach is discovered is the least ideal way, but it is the most common. In this scenario, your company finds out about the breach after a hacker contacts you for a ransom to buy your data back, or you discover the attack as your computer screens go blank, and you lose control of your network.
These types of attacks are all too common and they pose the most long-term risk to your company and your customers. This is the kind of outcome that comes from trusting the supply chain monitoring system that you have in place too much and hoping for the best. At this juncture, your company would have to make the breach public and might also have to pay a ransom to buy back data.
The better way to discover supply chain breaches is to run internal audits frequently and to work with an expert like Turgensec to discover supply chain risks and failures before they result in a significant breach. Being able to stave off a strong attack that compromises your entire network is always better than having to pick up the pieces after things have gone seriously awry.
How do I Prevent Supply Chain Breaches?
There are many ways that you can prevent these kinds of cybersecurity breaches. Supply chain monitoring is essential to keep your organization safe. While some of the solutions will add time and money to your daily operating picture, there is never a downside to investing in the security of your organization.
1. Vendor Contracts and Education: Vendors are often the weakest link in the supply chain, but you will have to work with them to take care of daily business needs for your company. Avoid vendors becoming the source of your breach by carefully vetting every vendor that is given access to your network.
Always make sure that these users are using their own account login information each time they access the servers they need to work with. This will make it possible for you to track breaches more readily. You also must have a contract that each vendor signs, which provides basic information about security and explains the due diligence that must be done each time they access your network.
You must NEVER work with a vendor who uses a third-party entity. These companies are unlikely to employ properly educated or properly trained employees, and the risk to your network would be totally unacceptable.
2. Network Segmentation: This solution involves creating checks and balances inside your network by breaking it up into segments. You don’t want employees or vendors to have access to every single part of your network when they login to work on their assigned tasks. Allowing all users access to the entirety of your network each time they log in is just asking for hackers to take your network away from you.
Part of segmenting your network is to have levels of access in place as well. Not every user should be granted the same access, and you can help prevent threats by restricting the access of vendors and other users. Someone who works in your accounting department does not need access to your servers, for example.
These checks and balances will prevent most attacks from succeeding and will mitigate the amount of damage caused by the breach if one does occur. This is another place where you can track what each user is doing on your network and identify risks to your cybersecurity quickly and efficiently.
3. Audits: You should be running a system of audits frequently. This means auditing employees, but also vendors. You should run internal audits frequently, but you also need to run external audits on potential new vendors and third-party contacts.
Any vendor or company worth it’s salt will allow you to do a cybersecurity audit to make sure that the vendor is able to prevent an attack on their side of the equation. Your own personal security can only do so much if the vendor is not able to prevent attacks that are coming from their own network.
Things that should be looked at are token logins, password renewal rates, and the security of software that is used by the vendor. You and your vendor need to hold the same standards for your security measures, or you will be opened up to a possible supply chain breach each time that vendor accesses your network.
4. Make Agreements Clear: You must state clearly all of the requirements and expectations that you have for each vendor or third-party person that you work with. Clearly outline responsibilities and requirements for each kind of access to your network.
This needs to be a signed agreement, and each party must be expected to adhere to it. There is never a good case to be made for granting exceptions to access requirements.
If your vendor wants access to an employee’s admin account, for example, the answer is always no. Maintaining strict standards for access to your network is the only way to prevent a supply chain breach.
5. Never Allowed Shared Usernames: Unless an account is a general access account that is limited in its access, you should never allow shared user accounts to access your network. Each vendor person needs to have their own access profile and their own password and login name.
Granting permission for multiple users to use the same login is just asking for a breach. You cannot track which vendor or which unique employee is the cause of your breach if you allow this kind of practice. Beyond that, the most basic network security requirement of all is that each user has their own password that they do not share with others.
While this might sound like it will not be an issue, the public would likely be fairly shocked to find out how often these kinds of practices are the real cause behind a supply chain breach. This is the biggest feature that is often overlooked in supply chain tracking.
How do I Improve my Supply Chain Monitoring Process?
If your head is spinning and you have realized that you have lots to work on at your organization, you are not alone! Many companies are not aware of the vast array of threats and potential weaknesses in their network security until they start to educate themselves about supply chain breaches.
If you are ready to make a change and improve your company’s cybersecurity, that is a major first step toward preventing potential supply chain breaches. Supply chain tracking and monitoring are essential for the prevention of cybersecurity threats.
Turgensec knows all about supply chain breaches and the faulty supply chain monitoring that was behind many of them. To prevent your organization from falling prey to a cybersecurity attack that was made possible due to shoddy supply chain monitoring, Turgensec has made a host of products that will serve your cybersecurity needs. Observation, for example, will continuously evaluate your supply chain for weaknesses and signs of a possible breach.
This is only one of many products that Turgensec has created in response to the needs of companies who have suffered supply chain breaches or cyberattacks. The best defense in cybersecurity is an offense, and Tugensec can offer you the tools to create a strong and breach-free network. Enquire today about these products and start improving your cybersecurity today!