When considering cybersecurity policies and risk management, protection from phishing, ransomware, and other Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are usually top of mind. Data loss protection usually makes the list as well. However, one area of risk that can be overlooked is supply chain cybersecurity attacks. Trusted partners are vital to organizations but the cyber risks they pose can be just as great as the help they provide. Let’s look at what these risks are and how supply chain cybersecurity risk management is an important piece of any data protection policy.
What is a supply chain cybersecurity risk?
Supply chain, vendors, third-party partners, no matter what you refer to them as, these partners are fundamental in assisting businesses. Very few organizations work without outside help. Different industries can hold different vendors. For example, in the financial services industry partners can include software (internal software as well mobile/online banking), real estate appraisers, law firms, audit firms, etc. In the healthcare industry, it can include insurance companies and pharmacies — the list is long and varies by industry. These helpful partners always come with a certain risk to the very establishment they assist.
How can third-party partners cause harm?
Usually, the vulnerabilities in your organization’s supply chain are not intentional. Outside partners do not intend to be a cyber risk as it jeopardies their partnerships and business. It can be a lack of robust cybersecurity such as a sole email security solution or perhaps it’s lack of a secure managed file transfer tool. Regardless of how the security vulnerabilities exist, supply chain cybersecurity attacks are steadily increasing and so are the risks.
According to Gartner, 83 percent of legal and compliance leaders stated that third-party risks were identified after initial onboarding due diligence. In the same 2019 report, 71 percent of organizations reported that their third-party networks contain more vendors than it did three years ago.
Given these statistics, one can see how a web of vendors can create more risks. For example, an organization has a vendor (1) who has a relationship with another vendor (2). Vendor (2) is compromised from a cyberattack. Now that vendor (2) is compromised, cybercriminals may gain access to vendor (1)’s data and use it as a vessel to gain access to the organization. They may use information to launch business email compromise (BEC) tactics, the options are lucrative for cybercriminals. Bottom line, organizations need to mitigate the supply chain cybersecurity risks.
Mitigate, mitigate, mitigate
To protect your organization from supply chain cybersecurity risks, understand the risks to your organization specifically. Start by identifying all the third-party channels your organization has. Once the parties are identified, understand what data they have access to and why. Use IT best practices such as patching software, strong password security, use tools to secure data in transit, and have a strong content inspection tool.
Having a strong defense with bi-directional protection against cyber threats and data loss will keep your organization’s data protected from the outside threats. Such tools to consider for data loss prevention include an Email Gateway, ICAP Gateway, and a Web Gateway.
Phishing Defense spots bad behavior and prevents impersonation from causing harm to an organization through its Continuous Detection and Response. While Phishing Response automates and remedies user-reported phish emails, performs fast and accurate investigations of URLs, attachments, and sender forensics — which shortens phishing response time up to 95 percent.
Data classification is needed to identify and protect sensitive data throughout its lifecycle. Treating sensitive data as such helps your organization understand what can and cannot be freely sent. It will also help with data compliance. Storing and managing sensitive data is vital in remaining compliant — which can prove costly when regulations are not followed. Even a failure to be compliant due to a breach from a supply chain cybersecurity attack results in fines and damage to reputation.
Securing data shared across the supply chain through a secure managed file transfer solution allows your organization to continue the vital day-to-day business with additional cyber protection. The managed file transfer automatically and securely moves files between trading partners, internal servers, and the cloud for an extraordinary level of management control and security.
Supply chain cybersecurity risks are very real threats to your organization, but not having third-party partners is not possible in today’s economy. Staying vigilant and having the right security tools will help keep sensitive data safe and maintain compliance no matter what lurks outside.