As digital technologies continue to advance, businesses across all industries are increasingly reliant on a growing number of collaborators and suppliers. While this has boosted innovation, competition, and connectivity, it has also given rise to a range of cyber security risks. Complex supply chains are a cyber security weak link for many organisations, and with good reason: No matter how stringent your own cyber security measures may be, there’s no way to control the measures taken by your collaborators and suppliers.

To explain the many cyber security risks in the supply chain and how to mitigate them, we’ve teamed up with the cyber security experts at ESET. From secondary targeting to factors to consider when choosing suppliers, discover their top tips for supply chain attack prevention.

Understanding supply chain attacks

Regardless of the industry in which you work or the size of your business, operating within the digital space and with a complex supply chain can expose you to the same cyber security threats. When it comes to supply chain cyber security, the two main risks are outlined below.

Secondary targeting

According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), secondary targeting – or cyber attacks that exploit weak links in your supply chain – have increased in Australia in recent years. In a secondary targeting attack, aggressors target smaller businesses within a supply chain, which typically have fewer cyber security measures than the larger businesses that they supply.

Once the attacker has gained access to the smaller businesses’ files and security credentials, they leverage these to gain access to the larger, primary target’s secure files and systems.

Malicious Intent from disgruntled suppliers

Ever had a business partnership go south after a misunderstanding or complications? While friction or falling outs between members of a supply chain are not uncommon, they should always be treated as potential cyber risks, particularly where sensitive information and security credentials have been shared.

To prevent suppliers who have previously been granted security access from viewing or modifying files once a relationship has ended, always be sure to change passwords and alter file permissions accordingly.

3 Tips for cyber security supply chain risk management

While supply chain cyber attacks are certainly cause for concern, preparation and the right tools can reduce the risk significantly. Read on to discover 3 easy methods of supply chain attack prevention.

  1. Train your employees

To ensure that cyber security measures are correctly implemented at all levels of your business, take the time to teach your employees the importance of safe online behaviour. Instilling the importance of password security, using a secure connection, and secure file sharing can all help mitigate the risk of cyber attacks and ensure employee buy-in into your overarching cyber security strategy.

  1. Carefully vet suppliers

Before agreeing to work with a supplier, take a close look at their cyber security measures and assess whether they’re up to your desired standard. Factors to consider at this stage include how reputable the supplier is, whether they have any IT security software or infrastructure in place, and whether they have been subject to breaches or attacks in the past.

  1. Practice good password hygiene

As noted above, changing passwords and other security credentials after a supplier leaves your supply chain is an easy way to guard against attacks. In addition, you may wish to consider issuing new passwords periodically and implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) for ongoing partners to ensure the highest level of protection.

Cyber security supply chain risk management is intricate, but not impossible

Whether you’re a small to medium enterprise (SME) or multinational corporation, supply chain attacks can have a devastating effect. The above measures can help protect your business from supply chain attacks including secondary targeting, and can ensure that your sensitive information remains secure even as your supply chain grows.

For best results, consider supplementing the above measures with cyber security software such as ESET Secure Business or ESET Threat Intelligence Service. To learn more and discover which solution is right for you, contact ESET today!