Digital supply chains refer to all the different components of a company’s online presence. Recent security news has brought the concept of supply chain security to the top of everyone’s mind. Due to the highly distributed nature of these supply chains, security teams must understand the critical implication of this business process.


What Is A Digital Supply Chain?

The Digital Supply Chain is the result of business processes and transactions migrating to web-based services and applications. These “products” are now digital, and the “suppliers” of the components deliver their product via APIs and embedded code. Internet connectivity – the heart of these Digital Supply Chains – has enabled the explosion of digital business models over the last few decades.

The components of the digital supply chain can include data, code, functionality, cloud storage and computing, DNS, PKI, images, fonts, etc. Rather than each business creating (and managing) all of these from scratch, they source the product or service from a third party.

As organizations conduct more and more business online, their dependency on the IT infrastructures of third-, fourth-, and Nth-party vendors to operate their services continues to grow. As this ecosystem grows, so do the security implications.

Risks To Your Digital Supply Chain

This process of re-using components from third parties has helped IT organizations accelerate development and deployment of new services and products. However, as this ecosystem of vendors grows, security teams need to understand the implications of connecting to any outside party.

 

Many Unknown Vendors

Organizations task procurement teams with vetting new business vendors. Unfortunately, the digital supply chain makes this almost impossible. While the vendor that does business directly with the enterprise can be vetted and contractually obligated to maintain a certain level of security – that challenge lies with the vendors that the vendor does business with. These long chains of connected vendors can’t be vetted and may not adhere to the same security standards.

 

Operational Outages

The impact of a security breach within a digital supply chain could result in or more than the loss of customers. In some cases, the goal of the threat actor is to cause operational outages for the business. For companies providing internet-based services, like Spotify in the 2016 breach, attackers continually test system’s defenses looking for vulnerabilities to cause outages.

How To Protect Your Digital Supply Chain

Despite these growing threats and the lack of oversight throughout the digital supply chain, security teams still need to protect your organization and your data. However, traditional security tools have not been designed to look for vulnerabilities in the supply chains.

 

Thorough Due Diligence & Supplier Contracts

The traditional method to protect your digital supply chain is by auditing your vendors before signing a contract with them. Requiring vendors to meet your own standard of security is the first line of defense. Depending on the level of integration with a vendor, the security team may decide to visit them on-site and put necessary protocols in place. They may also perform security training for those vendors to keep the expectations front of mind.

 

Continual Vulnerability Alerts

As your digital supply chain grows, you need up-to-date knowledge on your vulnerabilities, your vendors’ vulnerabilities, and their vendor’s vulnerabilities – to the Nth degree.

A yearly security audit won’t keep you aware of new threats, and the damage is already done.

Cyberpion’s Ecosystem Assessment Scan keeps you current with regular scans and alerts when something changes with a vendor (or your own online assets).

 

Automated Protection

For the most critical security threats, don’t wait for your IT security team to respond. Cyberpion offers automated protection from critical asset abuses to keep your infrastructure safe.

 

Reduce Your External Attack Surface

Effective security requires constant audits and assessments of your vendors security posture. The goal is to minimize the number of possible vulnerabilities by reducing the number of assets that might have vulnerabilities. By de-commissioning assets that are no longer necessary for operation, you reduce the overall attack surface to defend.

 

Employee Training

EWhile this should go without saying, employees need to keep an attitude of security around their everyday operations, even without being on the security team. Credential theft and social engineering regularly leads to breaches of both third-party vendor employees and high-level primary employees. These cybercriminals carry out highly researched campaigns, and every team member should be prepared to defend their data.

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