How To Prevent Cyberattacks Against The Supply Chain

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What Manufacturing, Distribution, Logistics, and Retail Companies Need to Know to Protect Their Business


Over the past two years we have experienced unprecedented disruption to the global supply chain. There are many issues impacting manufacturing, distribution, logistics, and retail companies, ranging from employee shortages to cyberattacks.

As the country’s ports increasingly rely on technology, there is a higher probability of cyberattacks that will wreak havoc on companies in the supply chain. Whether the company is mid-size or in the Fortune 50, preventing an attack is always much easier, and less expensive, than recovering from one. Here are four steps that companies can take to prevent cyberattacks and minimize their impact.

Step 1: Establish an information security steering committee to focus on governance and oversight of the information security program

After a cyberattack, companies can suffer catastrophic financial, operational and reputational hits. This goes to show that cybersecurity is not just an “IT thing.” Rather, it should be a mainstay agenda item for the Board of Directors. Ideally, the committee should be chaired by the CEO and his or her direct reports – CIO, CFO, COO, etc. Getting the CEO and other executives involved up front can ensure that any information security controls that are introduced work alongside existing business processes. It also establishes the mandate and the authority of the information security program to carry out its mission.

Step 2: Perform an annual information security risk assessment

An information security risk assessment both satisfies compliance needs and helps an organization understand gaps in cybersecurity that need to be addressed by the steering committee. The assessment will demonstrate your reasoning for recommending controls and seeking approval for allocating resources to the security program. This tool helps establish credibility for your request.

Step 3: Promote a culture of cybersecurity awareness and defense

Keep in mind that not all threats come from outside the organization, and it is often employees who are the weakest link. Cybersecurity awareness starts with training and includes regular testing and rewards. It’s important to invest in technical controls, but it is equally important to establish a culture where employees at all levels understand the risks and are aware of their role in preventing a breach.

Step 4: Establish a cybersecurity incident response plan and team

An incident response plan is a set of instructions designed to address various cybersecurity incidents. An incident response team is an established group of both employees and trusted external advisors who are trained in how to appropriately respond to a cyber incident to minimize impact. Manufacturing, distribution, logistics and retail organizations need to rehearse their response to various types of threats. It is critical to know to whom and with what messages the organization must communicate. Companies that are well prepared have the least impact to reputation.

Implementing strong cybersecurity measures does come at a cost. To find the balance and settle on an appropriate, affordable budget for securing valuable data, mid-sized manufacturing, distribution, logistics and retail organizations need to first determine what data and/or company assets should be secured. For example, protecting the intellectual property for a high value product, process or formulation might be more important than protecting the marketing content on the company website.

A strong cybersecurity program is aligned with and enables business goals; it should not be a barrier to those goals. Organizations can ensure cybersecurity programs and controls are not barriers to success by acknowledging that cybersecurity is a business issue, not just an IT issue. Drawing on executives from across the business to serve on the cybersecurity steering committee, ensures organizational alignment and establishes the cybersecurity program as a strategic priority.

Midsized organizations, especially those without a CIO or CISO, can work with trusted, outside advisors to implement best practice approaches to cybersecurity.

Reach out today to learn more about how Hartman can address the business risks associated with cybersecurity and help leaders implement the four steps to prevent a cyberattack.

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