3 Supply Chain Security Processes that Drive Business Growth!

Supply Chain Security

Supply chains are unsung heroes in most businesses. Customers rarely interact with them since supply chain processes take place in the background, away from the spotlight. However, they directly impact customer experience and business growth.

Everything from procurement to last-mile delivery comes under the supply chain umbrella, and boosting efficiency here drives better business results. Given the digital nature of modern supply chains, cybersecurity can make or break a business.

Supply chain security is critical to business growth since a breach can potentially derail different parts of a business, all at once. Here are three supply chain security processes that not only secure but boost business growth.

1. Zero Trust security

Modern supply chains are complex thanks to automation and cloud storage infrastructure. Companies store their data in on-premise and third-party servers, leading to a sprawl that is challenging to monitor. Worse, data in these servers are accessed by machines like microservices and automated jobs, making manual security monitoring an impossible task.

In this environment, a malicious actor could impersonate a machine’s credentials and access sensitive data. The best way to prevent this situation from occurring is to install Zero Trust (ZT) security. ZT might seem like a highly pessimistic stance but it’s the best one possible given the state of automation and machine presence in the modern company’s landscape.

ZT involves restricting access only to those entities that can repeatedly prove their identity. This means access credentials are granted for short periods, for as long as an entity needs access to data before being revoked. In addition, ZT also imposes access time limits to automated jobs that run on preset schedules.

As a result, data is always secure and accessed by entities that prove a need, making it easy for security teams to monitor activity. Sensitive supply chain data, such as customer order information and logistics partner data, are always secure leading to better customer experiences and logistics partner relationships.

2. Continuous security monitoring

While ZT is a great philosophy, it doesn’t eliminate external threats from infiltrating a network. Hackers these days use AI to repeatedly ping a system for vulnerabilities and learn more about it before launching a decisive attack. 

For instance, a hacker looking to compromise customer data will launch repeated attacks to learn how a security system responds to different threats. Once they’ve learned a system’s response mechanisms, they launch a decisive attack targeting weaknesses. 

Modern organizations cannot afford static security arrangements where they install a system and wait for updates to improve their security. Instead, what they need is a dynamic approach. A good security system constantly tests itself for vulnerabilities and offers insights into weaknesses based on those tests.

For instance, it should test itself against modern penetration techniques and offer security teams insights into weaknesses to address. Armed with this data, security teams can take corrective action before an attacker discovers these weaknesses and infiltrates a network.

Continuous security validation of this kind is invaluable for modern organizations. Not only does their data change regularly, but the threat landscape does too. Security teams can become overburdened quickly and continuous security monitoring is the key to giving these teams the tools they need to combat threats.

3. Validate third-party access

Supply chains rely on a wide range of third-party solutions providers to work smoothly. These third-party providers inject and extract data from a company’s systems several times daily, and pose a significant security risk. For starters, their security policies might not match a company’s, creating an entry path for malicious actors.

Companies cannot realistically force their suppliers to follow their security standards. Budget concerns and other business conditions might make this impossible. The best way to mitigate risk is to enforce a minimal set of best practices like encryption and logging in via a VPN.

Next, companies must stage third-party data before inserting it into their systems. While this process slows performance, it prevents far greater risks down the road. Staging helps a company validate data for security before absorbing it into its system.

Companies can even offer their suppliers data upload templates pre-validated for security. These templates are not a substitute for a staging area, but they reduce the validation work a company needs to perform on a dataset. 

If a supplier’s compromise presents a significant business risk, companies can consider taking them over and bringing their data into the fold to prevent a security lapse down the road.

Supply chain security is critical to business growth

Supply chain security isn’t the first place companies look at when figuring out how to unlock growth. However, supply chains are the backbone of every company, and improving security will have downstream effects on a company’s resilience.

From supplier security validation to monitoring machine-based access to data, supply chain security is critical to improving a company’s prospects in the marketplace.

Article and permission to publish here provided by Hazel Raoult. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on August 3, 2023.

Cover image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay