The truth is cyberattacks are happening a lot. According to a recent survey by a cyber security technology company, 66% of companies said they had come under a cyberattack in the previous 12 months. And hackers are now targeting supply chain companies as a gateway or entry point for bigger attacks and access to client data. These attacks don’t only occur in the IT department but can be due to lax security by vendors and suppliers, human errors with deliveries and malware from traders. Hackers anticipate these weak spots and may for example, target a 3PL’s GPS system, essentially crippling the internal communications of the supply chain and hijacking fragile data of clients and customers.
This leads to B2B disruption, losing customer trust, losing sales, downtime in operations and financial fallout. And with more people and technology sharing information along the supply chain, the higher the number of vulnerable points of attack. But instead of waiting for the next attack to happen, 3PLs can change their decision making and allow operations to install plans and practices that will mitigate any potential threat.
Is your 3PL well prepared to prevent cyberattacks?
Robust IT solutions
Ideally, every vendor you deal with would already have in place robust IT security that is continually monitored. To protect yourself further, include these requirements in every proposal and contract. When suppliers and vendors are aware of consequences of contractual obligations, it’s much easier to determine the point and cause of attacks, figure out next steps and make better decisions.
Accreditation and certification
Alongside vetting our vendors and suppliers, we insist on accreditation on par with our own certification from cybersecurity companies. These companies have come in and performed tests on our systems and given pass certificates only after we met their standards – standards which are at the highest organization and government levels possible. There are also cyber rating tools out there if you need further insight into a supplier.
This step requires investment and a separate budget for cybersecurity and cyber liability insurance to further protect against breach of data. Also employee training from the warehouse floor to top management must be made compulsory so they can be held accountable. Even basic procedures can make a big impact: from locking up or handling confidential files, using key cards to enter and record data, passwords that change every 90 days, using only company approved software and ensuring system updates, being vigilant about emails and never downloading or inserting software that you are not sure of to prevent malware. All software and hardware must have a security handshake and only allow secure booting processes if the correct authentication codes are recognized. Checking for viruses should be done offline and employees must never let a third party use their computer. Personal items should be separated from sensitive company networks and any file sharing stations must be secure. Believe it or not, human error is a major source of data breach and avoiding sloppy mistakes will go a long way.
Make it a priority
It’s surprising how few companies, even after an attack, do not take adequate measures. Your board should be aware of vulnerabilities and how it will impact business. They must be updated with reports, discuss openly and acknowledge the risks of ignoring cybersecurity.
Obviously, the less human intervention, the less room for human error. For example, we use track and trace programs to establish the proper provenance of parts and components from vendors and suppliers. Our software programs automatically capture such identity data for better information and record keeping. Thus, we can trace and find the source and journey of every product that enters the warehouse. There is strict access to these systems and tools which are useful in better communication between our partners, thereby reducing weak spots.
Assume you will be breached
This is again to empower and increase the knowledge of your employees. Our employees have been put in mock situations and know that when something does go wrong, instead of escalating the issue, they must immediately take next steps and also report issues without hesitation. Due to the time sensitive nature of attacks, they know that the sooner they respond, the better off everyone will be.
Businesses are now the ones held responsible for lapses in security and it is advisable to always work with a 3PL that has done a full assessment of their security systems and taken appropriate responsible steps. Some say cyberattacks are expected to worsen in the next few years – either way, continual risk assessment and monitoring needs to be implemented. The more steps and measures that are taken, thereby improving resiliency, the more customers and companies will be protected and guaranteed peace of mind.