5 Cybersecurity Best Practices for your Supply Chain Ecosystem

Ed Gort, VP of Engineering and Professional Services, LynnCo Supply Chain Solutions
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Ed Gort, VP of Engineering and Professional Services, LynnCo Supply Chain Solutions

SSAE 16 SOC certification provides a guide for cybersecurity inside and outside your company’s four walls

Today’s supply chains are a complex ecosystem of contributors who rely on interoperability, transparency, and collaboration. The resulting visibility provides highly functional workflows among participants, but also increases the risk of exposure through IT systems and infrastructure. Links within the supply chain serve as the main channel for sourcing goods and materials as well as a primary passage for moving product to your clients. Whether you supply, manufacture, or distribute a product, your supply chain is the foundation of your business. Interruptions in the infrastructure can have a significant impact on your delivery schedule, order fulfillment, customer satisfaction, and overall company performance. Therefore, it’s no surprise you want to place a high priority on the security of your supply chain.

It’s essential to have a solid cybersecurity plan that documents data security at every link in the chain. At LynnCo Supply Chain Solutions, we see companies increasing budgets for cybersecurity as they look for better alignment with their strategic goals to protect data and improve quality of customer service at every level. But how do you actually go about creating protocols and documentation that ensure cybersecurity both inside and outside the walls of your organization?

  Structured cybersecurity documentation will help protect your supply chain from the inside out  

The SSAE 16 SOC Audit

One of the best ways of applying structure to your security documentation is to undergo a Service Organization Control (SOC) audit. The resulting SSAE 16 SOC reports provide a comprehensive, insightful view of your organization’s IT systems and the controls in place for security, availability, data processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. 

Of course, the audit process itself is a major undertaking. Through our own SSAE 16 SOC audit, LynnCo discovered that it’s possible to ensure success and obtain greater value by following these five best practices:

1. Assess Your Readiness- It’s essential to have a plan before you start, but most of us are too close to our own systems to evaluate them objectively. To learn where you stand with your supply chain’s cybersecurity, hire a third-party organization to perform a vulnerability assessment and penetration test. Essentially, these digital experts will hack into your systems to test the security of your firewall, looking for holes you aren’t aware of. That process will provide an objective perspective of your security.

2. Evaluate Risks Before You Mitigate- Your initial list of vulnerabilities and recommendations maybe discouraging. The list may encompass numerous vulnerabilities and multiple systems. Don’t respond by thinking you have to rip out and replace your entire infrastructure. Instead, you need to right-size the recommendations for your organization. If your company doesn’t handle credit cards, financial information, or personal data for your customers, you can turn your attention to the recommendations most relevant to your business model. Carefully assess the level of exposure for each issue and then prioritize the fixes that will provide the most critical protection for your business and customers. 

3. Align Your Operations With Security Policies- When you’ve closed up the holes, you may think you have your house in order, but you’re not finished yet. You can have the most impenetrable infrastructure on the planet, but as soon as an employee puts a password on a sticky note, you become vulnerable. Likewise, if a mobile user works on an unsecured tablet, they have unlocked the door to your critical data. Create written policies, and educate your workers. Schedule frequent cybersecurity training sessions, and follow through with regular reminders and updates to keep security top of mind for every single employee.

4. Extend Security Guidelines to Your Vendors- When you share data with suppliers and vendors, you’re allowing essential communication that’s vital for your operations as well as theirs. But you’re also opening up access to your internal systems. If your vendors don’t have adequate cybersecurity measures in place, hackers can use their systems to attack your company–and potentially your customers’ companies. Be sure that your supplier and vendor agreements include specific Service-level agreements (SLA) for security. Provide appropriate guidelines and audit their compliance to ensure they are acting to protect your data.

5. Test and Repeat- Security is never a set-and-forget exercise. Cybercriminals are creative and motivated, and attackers are constantly adapting to defenses. That means cyber security plans must be updated frequently. At LynnCo, we undergo a formal audit every year to maintain compliance with the SSAE 16 SO Cattestation standards. We also conduct ongoing internal audits throughout the year as we don’t want to wait a year to find a new vulnerability that may arise and eliminate it. 

Bonus Tip: If you have a high degree of liability, do your company a favor and research cybersecurity insurance policies. Once considered a high-end investment for large enterprises, this type of insurance has become significantly more affordable as insurers fill the need for coverage that will protect businesses in the event of a breach.

Without a Plan, You’re Already at Risk

The elevated complexity of the supply chain ecosystem has increased the number of potential points of disruption along the infrastructure. Exposing these risks can help you identify and prevent supply chain disturbances that can bring your business to a sudden stop.

The stakes are high; your supply chain is the lifeline of your company. Structured cybersecurity documentation will help protect it from the inside out.

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