Unless you've managed to avoid numerous news outlets over the past few years, you are familiar with the fact that hacking has become increasingly more popular with cybercriminals and their targets are as nuanced and varied as the hackers themselves. In early June, the United States government was broken into and hackers - allegedly hailing from China - stole millions of files on federal workers, CNN reported. This is one of the larger security breaches that the world has seen in recent history, and one that causes a good deal of concern. Given the scale of this attack, it's no surprise that global enterprises are reevaluating their security protocols and reexamining how well other sectors are protected.

We've seen a similar alarming trend pop up in the supply chain. As cyberattacks are becoming increasingly more common across various links in the supply chain, is there any direct action we can take to help eradicate these risks?

No opening is too small
Hackers are spectacularly crafty and tricky when it comes to infiltrating a supposedly secure structure. They are able to find the smallest holes and exploit a company's weaknesses to extract data and codes that could potentially cause more damage. And in this era where everything is either connected to the Internet or to another device via the Internet of Things, cybercriminals now have more gaps through which to operate.

According to SupplyChain247, ocean cargo carriers are especially at risk because of their size and the manner of their operations. By sending and responding to sensitive information across various platforms, hackers have multiple entry locations to steal data. This data can range from access codes to payment information and attacks are made possible because not all activity is actively monitored.

While the nature of the business cannot really be altered - parties operate in different time zones and ocean carriers send and receive payments and route information to and from multiple sources - there needs to be some way to protect data and cargo from unwelcome third parties.

New territories to conquer
It would seem that no supply chain is without risk. Whether a company operates a procurement facility or is a supplier, supply chains continue to be a weak spot in the entire purchasing and global sourcing realm. NetworkWorld reported that new technologies and unclear legal contracts may be some of the pain points that plague various aspects of the supply chain.

Many employees find that utilizing information management programs to keep information straight from device to device is not only incredibly helpful, but also a huge time-saver. These kinds of programs are free on the Internet and don't necessarily cause IT department alarm bells to ring. However, these are often secured with a single email address and password combination and could contain highly sensitive information. Not only does this pose a threat to that user's information, but the data and security of the business as whole. These platforms open up new and easy pathways to corporate data and hackers have very little issue accessing such intelligence.

With the advent of the Internet, the supply chain has changed tremendously. Companies can operate on a global scale and interact with businesses and clients at any time, day or night. However, this freedom does leave a lot to be desired by way of online protection. What once took place on physical clipboards and manufacturing floors now has a space in the cybersphere. We need to work together to find methods of protection that actually work and keep corporate and private data safe. 

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Carole Boyle

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