Data security has proven to be a huge issue time and again for consumers, businesses and government agencies nationwide. With more information than ever being stored in the cloud - and volumes increasing exponentially - it's vital for companies at every step of the supply chain to have concrete plans in place to increase the security of their sensitive data, and react properly if anything goes wrong.

After all, some data breaches aren't necessarily anyone's fault, but the fallout can be exactly the same as if the information is stolen in a malicious attack. Even a small amount of information that falls into the wrong party's hands - or simply gets exposed - can have a profound negative impact on your operations, according to Supply Chain Management Review. Taking time to address a minor data breach is likely to set a company back in some way, and the bigger the incident, the more time that will need to be allocated to solving the problems that arise.

Data security is a must for any business in the supply chain.Data security is a must for any business in the supply chain.
For that reason, it's critical that everyone within an organization be properly trained on how to handle sensitive data, and outside requests for such information, the report said. It only takes one weak link to break the strongest chain, and when companies can do more to head such threats off at the pass, they will be in a better position to avoid costly clean-up efforts.

Why it's a challenge
For many companies, a lot of the strong security posture required to properly handle data is easier talked about than actually realized, according to Tech Republic. The big reason for that is smaller businesses just don't have the resources - in terms of people, time or money - to devote to the full-scale readiness that might be necessary. However, that lack of resources is no excuse not to pursue the best possible data security processes.

This risk might be especially acute if companies share their data with supply chain partners, because then the breach risk spreads and becomes even less predictable and controllable. For that reason, businesses of all sizes need to not only develop plans to manage whatever data they share, but also to get rid of out-of-date information that could still be used to negatively impact their processes or bottom lines.

Every vulnerability must be addressed
Of course, it's more than just your supply chain partners that can present a cyber vulnerability, according to Supply Chain Digital. In 2014, Target was actually hacked through the company that provided their HVAC services, showing just how pervasive the risk is, and that even the biggest companies with billion-dollar bottom lines can be vulnerable. For that reason, any effort to redouble security not only internally, but externally as well, is a must.

The biggest mistake for smaller companies in the supply chain would be to think an incident like this couldn't happen to them because of their size. Data breaches, whether targeted or unintentional, happen every day and can have a massive negative impact on a company's processes, finances and relationship with customers or clients.
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