Wavestone US
Wavestone US

Supply chain security weaknesses are serious business risks and prime targets for cybercriminals. By compromising just one vendor, an attacker can gain access to numerous organizations and wreak havoc.

An effective cybersecurity strategy must include proactively managing third-party risks. Without it, all other countermeasures could be pointless.

Resilient cyber supply chain risk management (C-SCRM) requires active protection of multiple fronts. Your C-SCRM program must include these critical components to be effective:

 
 

Continuous tracking and monitoring of all vendors in the supply chain

Your vendor’s risk model is effectively yours, too. The only way to thoroughly safeguard your enterprise is to track and analyze its interactions with other third-party entities. This includes all vendor products that integrate into your IT environments, including their entire product development and deployment lifecycle.

You can activate third-party security assessment and monitoring services to get more insight into vendor software activity within your enterprise. Your monitoring process should give you:

Assurance that third-party software is not compromised during the delivery process

Transparency into the security practices of vendor software development

Up-to-date knowledge of any cybersecurity breaches or incidents that the vendor has encountered

 
 

Identification of high-risk vendors and assets

A vendor risk assessment (VRA) will help you identify potential vulnerabilities within your supply chain. The VRA should include, but is not limited to, the following factors:

The type of product or service provided

The company size

The financial stability of the vendor

The vendor’s security posture

The history of data breaches or other security incidents involving the vendor and how they were managed

Whether the vendor uses sub-contractors

 
 

Implementation of security controls to fix vulnerabilities posed by high-risk suppliers

The next step after conducting a VRA is to begin implementing security controls. The following best practices should be used across all your vendor relationships. However, if your company deals with hundreds of vendors, you should prioritize rolling out these security measures with identified high-risk vendors.

Access control measures, such as two-factor authentication

Data encryption

Security awareness training for employees

Vendor management policies and procedures

Supply chain security audits

Another factor you should consider is the vendor’s business continuity impact on your organization. Securing the vital vendors first will help to minimize any damage you suffer from cyber incidents.

 
 

Active engagement with vendors on security improvements

Working closely with your vendors on security improvements is crucial to ensure they take the necessary steps to protect your data through actions such as:

Regular discussions on security concerns

Joint reviews of security controls

Identification of new security risks and mitigation strategies

Implementation of new security controls

Monitoring of vendor compliance with security policies and procedures

You can take an active role in helping your vendors improve their cybersecurity capabilities to advance your security posture. But if they fail to adhere to your supply chain security requirements or make no attempts to remediate based on the findings you share, it may be time to check if the security protocols detailed in your contract are being met. You may even need to reassess if the vendor is still a best fit for your organization.

No matter how careful you are, you should also build an appropriate operational resilience strategy that will take over in case of vendor failure. It’s good practice to have a continuity plan in place to deal with the potential removal of the vendor or product.

 
 

Regular testing and auditing of your security controls

Systematically test and audit your security controls to match C-SCRM best practices. Some common methods include:

Security vulnerability assessments – These assessments can help identify any weaknesses in your security posture. They can be conducted on a regular basis or after any significant changes or updates to your infrastructure with vendor additions or alterations.

Penetration testing – Penetration testing can help identify how effectively your security controls prevent unauthorized access to your systems. It can also help identify any vulnerabilities within your vendor network infrastructure.

Third-party audits – Consider having your security controls audited by a third-party organization. This can help ensure that your security controls are meeting current industry best practices and can withstand a full-scale attack.

 
 

Ongoing risk management and mitigation

C-SCRM is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Its effectiveness relies on regular monitoring and updating to ensure that all vendors in the supply chain comply with security controls. Additionally, C-SCRM should be integrated into your overall security program to ensure that it aligns with your organization’s goals and objectives.

If you’re unsure where to start with C-SCRM, Wavestone’s team of experts is ready to help. We can assess your current security posture and develop a customized plan to help you mitigate the risks posed by your supply chain.

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Wavestone US

Our team is a blend of former C-suite executives and industry leaders, and high-quality talent at all levels who can tackle your most complex issues with a fresh approach. With a globally connected network of 3,000 employees, Wavestone US is designed to help you get results. All our consultants thrive on complex challenges, enjoy blazing new trails, and are committed to your organization’s success.

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