Cyber Supply Chain Risk Management: Keeping Supply Chains Secure

06/21/2022 by Russ Felker and Steven Smack

Cyber Supply Chain Risk Management: Keeping Supply Chains Secure

When one hears “supply chain,” typically they first think of the physical components; the raw materials needed by a specific time for manufacturers or finished products to retail stores. The digital parts of supply chains work in a similar fashion. Cyber supply chains focus on keeping the physical aspects of business moving using applications, information systems, or digital vendors. And so, cyber supply chain risk management is crucial for business continuity.

Without addressing cyber supply chain risk management in an intentional and thoughtful manner, the industry will continue to remain susceptible to further disruption. Publicized breaches are the tip of the cyber-impact iceberg. Attacks occur with such frequency, and via many attack vectors, that a breach is occurring or imminent in any network or system.

According to the annual X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, manufacturing and other suppliers suffered nearly a quarter of the cyber attacks in 2021. Amidst the disruption faced by the pandemic, these attacks only further distressed supply chains. However, with a cyber supply chain risk management plan in place, companies can focus on reducing the frequency and impact of such events.


Cyber Supply Chain Risk Management (C-SCRM) is the process of ensuring the integrity of your supply chain’s supporting systems and data. This includes identifying, assessing, and mitigating the risk associated with the interconnected nature of information technology and service supply chains. Since cyber supply chain risk can be compromised at any point where technology is leveraged, C-SCRM applies to both hardware and software and covers the entire life cycle of those systems.


C-SCRM is Not Just an IT Problem

Cyber security for businesses isn’t quite that separate from physical security. The digital aspects of supply chains touch all parts of an organization, so C-SCRM should too. Cyber security risks can come from many different places such as physical sabotage or most commonly, human error via social engineering. Don’t make the mistake of thinking C-SCRM is the sole responsibility of the IT department. Whether physical or digital, security is part of everyone’s job.

Know Your Risks and Threats

If you don’t know your cyber security risks, it’s hard to have planned countermeasures for cyber threats. First, make a list of key scenarios that might endanger your cyber supply chain. Some common risks are integration loss, phishing attempts, malware, and hacking. Once you’ve created a complete list of risks, work through the most likely and highest impact scenarios first. Then, create plans to prevent and mitigate risk should a successful breach take place.

Assume a Breach Will Happen

We all like to think a breach will never happen, but these days it’s not if but when. Assuming a breach will happen allows you to better assess the impact of one on your system. Once you understand how affected you could be, you’ll better understand how to mitigate the effect of one.

Track the Links in Your Supply Chain

Working with third parties removes some of the control you have for cyber supply chain risk management. And static monitoring isn’t enough to keep your data and networks in your supply chain safe. Static monitoring gives you a one-time snapshot of their controls, but what about tomorrow or next week? Cyber supply chains aren’t static, so your monitoring shouldn’t be either. Many organizations assume they’re secure once they’ve implemented a cyber supply chain risk management framework, but it doesn’t stop there. Continued tracking is the most efficient way to ensure your data is always protected.


Network and System Hygiene

Cyber supply chain risk management starts with the management of the components making up the networks and systems of each link in the chain. Much of what supply chains need is straightforward hygiene. This includes updating older components, ensuring patching is consistent and comprehensive, and tighter controls on the use of open-source software to understand and mitigate any potential vulnerabilities.

What is the magical tool needed to affect this, you ask? It’s time. IT departments need enough staff to allow for time spent in this area. Many companies have grown to have some degree of heterogeneous systems and networks in place. Additionally, there’s been a recent move to remote and hybrid work styles. These recent changes have caused IT departments to need more team members to strengthen cyber security.

Monthly manual work is needed to ensure updates are completed and patches are deployed. Making it easier to perform this work involves homogenizing the environment. It’s an investment that can lead to improved cyber security for an organization.

Securely Transform

Digital transformation has been a staple in the changing work environment over the last two years. But those changes are a breeding ground for potential vulnerabilities.

Every digital transformation is a security event. This includes events like moving processes to the cloud or leveraging automation. Understanding the changes introduced in any digital environment is critical to defending your digital borders and reducing the blast radius if a successful breach occurs.

Ensuring the understanding of how new technologies connect to systems, how users interact, and how data flows is key to reducing the impact of the inevitable cyber-attack.

Beyond Logs

Logging security and other events are table stakes these days. But it’s only useful if observation and understanding are applied to those logs.

Based on the number of systems and infrastructure in use today at even a smaller organization, the manual survey of logs can no longer count as observation. This is due to the number of differences between various software and hardware providers.

Having a solution or partner in place to intake and analyze logs is more critical now than it ever has been.

The second need is the ability to understand it all. The trick is that it’s not about understanding one individual log. It’s about understanding them both alone and as they relate to one another. Again, this greater depth of understanding is where a solution or partner comes into play. Understanding allows for the identification of any anomalies so you can act upon them quickly and decisively.


These cybersecurity steps are critical to keeping your data safe and establishing your business as a reliable supply chain partner. Successful attacks will continue to occur, but if you have the right team, solutions, and partners, your business can be more secure among cyber supply chain risks.

Cybersecurity is a people, process, and technology problem, so make sure to ally yourself with some of the good guys, like Trinity Logistics. We work with all our partners to understand and address potential supply chain risks, providing you with the technology and data you need while maintaining optimal cyber security. Our Technology Team is knowledgeable and experienced in cyber supply chain risk management, consistently working to keep our and your data secure. 

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