Securing Your Supply Chain: Five Practical Steps to Mitigate Cyberattack Risks

As cyber threats continue to evolve, securing your supply chain has become an increasingly critical task for businesses of all sizes and industries. Your security is only as strong as its weakest link, so understanding the role of security in the supply chain is crucial to mitigating the risk of cyberattacks. 

In this article, we discuss the importance of securing your supply chain and provide practical steps to mitigate the risk of cyberattacks, which can have far-reaching consequences for your business operations, financial stability, and reputation.

Why Supply Chains Are So Vulnerable

A supply chain is the network of all the companies, suppliers, and partners involved in the production and delivery of a product or service. This includes everything from raw materials and components to finished products and services. 

Recently, the number of cyberattacks targeting supply chains has been growing at an alarming rate. In 2022 alone, the number of documented supply chain attacks involving malicious third-party components increased by 633%.

That’s because supply chains are a major weakness in organizational security. If any part of the supply chain is compromised, any interconnected business is at risk. Supply chains unfortunately provide an accidental opening into the private data of unsuspecting businesses, emerging as a tempting opportunity for cybercriminals. 

In today's interconnected business landscape, organizations are relying heavily on suppliers to perform business operations efficiently. However, this dependence on suppliers poses a significant security threat—especially to larger businesses—if not properly secured and monitored. Hackers will often target smaller businesses in the supply chain as a way to gain access to larger organizations further down the line. This is known as a “supply chain attack” and can be devastating for the businesses involved. 

On top of that, the industry is currently trying to solve the supply chain problem from the top-down. Larger, enterprise-level companies are forcing their security requirements onto their suppliers, either contractually or through questionnaires. However, these lower-level suppliers don’t have the same resources as these enterprise-level companies. They need cybersecurity experts to meet them where they are with solutions that are affordable and geared towards them. 

Understanding Supply Chain Risks

Compromised supply chains pose numerous risks that can negatively impact a business’s operations, reputation, and financial performance. Some of the key risks associated are:

  • Disrupted operations: Poor security measures in supply chains can increase the risk of disruptions in operations, such as unavailability of critical components, delays in deliveries, or reduced production capacity, leading to increased costs and customer dissatisfaction.
  • Reputational damage: Insecure supply chains can damage an organization's reputation, as customers, investors, and other stakeholders may question the organization's commitment to security, quality, and ethical practices.
  • Intellectual property theft: A supplier breach can expose trade secrets, proprietary designs, and other intellectual property to theft or espionage, resulting in competitive disadvantages and financial losses.


How to Secure Your Supply Chain

Securing your supply chain against cyber threats is a complex task that requires a multifaceted approach. Here are practical steps you can take for your supply chain to secure itself:

1. Risk Assessment

The first step in securing your supply chain is to uncover the attack surfaces you’ve exposed to the internet. This can include your website, organizational email addresses, DNS records, and more. A thorough risk assessment will help you identify any potential vulnerabilities in your supply chain and prioritize your security efforts.

2. Supplier Management

Next, your supply chain should incorporate your security requirements into contracts with suppliers and actively assess and monitor their compliance throughout the execution process. Regular audits will ensure ongoing adherence to these requirements, and foster a culture where suppliers feel comfortable proactively notifying you in the event of a breach. This approach helps maintain a secure and transparent supply chain, which is important since the security posture of your supplier may become your weakest link. 

3. Ransomware Simulations

Simulating the behavior of known malware campaigns identifies specific points where your systems would either resist or be vulnerable to ransomware attacks. By mimicking these malicious activities, your supply chain can proactively pinpoint weaknesses and strengthen your defenses against potential cyber threats.

4. Penetration Testing

As with ransomware simulations, by simulating attacker behavior, you can gain insight into how your network would fare in the face of a cyberattack. This proactive approach allows your supply chain to identify potential vulnerabilities and bolster your defenses, better preparing your organization for potential threats.

5. Phishing & Awareness Training

Your employees play a crucial role in securing your supply chain. Make sure they’re trained on phishing, an incredibly effective attack in which criminals lure your users into giving them access to your data and systems. 

Secure Your Supply Chain with Ironwood Cyber

Securing your supply chain against cyber threats takes everyday work. Founded by two former Lockheed Martin Fellows, Ironwood Cyber is a team of seasoned cybersecurity experts with decades of experience protecting our nation's most critical defense weapon systems. Our Ironwood Cyber Rx™ services can help your organization establish processes, user awareness, and provide continuous assessment on your cybersecurity health. 

Interested? Let’s start a conversation today.


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