Cyber security in the supply chain: how to mitigate risks?

December 29, 2023
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Cybersecurity in the supply chain: how to mitigate risks?

Cyber security risks in the supplier chain

Cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated, and as a result, the security of your supply chains has become a priority for businesses in all sectors. As it becomes easier to carry out increasingly complex cyber attacks, the interconnected nature of suppliers makes them a vulnerable target. All it takes is one malicious email link or one malware download.

Understanding the risks

Cyber security risks in the supply chain arise when attackers exploit vulnerabilities in the interconnected and often complex network of suppliers, vendors, and service providers that businesses rely on. Your CRM system, your hosting provider, your own software.

Attackers often gain access to the supply chain via third-party open source repositories, public source code, or login credentials. This can lead to the following risks:

  • Third-party vulnerabilities: When the systems of a supplier or partner are compromised, it can have a ripple effect, impacting every entity in the supply chain.
  • Software supply chain attacks: Malware or vulnerabilities in software products can infiltrate the entire supply chain.
  • Data breaches: Sensitive information can be made public when a part of the supply chain is compromised.

Mitigating the risks

To mitigate the above risks, it is advisable to adopt a proactive and comprehensive approach. This includes:

  • Risk assessment and management: Conduct thorough risk assessments of all third-party suppliers. Review your SLAs with third parties and request audit reports, such as a penetration test report. Assess the potential impact of their compromises on your operations.
  • Implementing your own robust security measures: Ensuring that your own cyber security measures are robust is essential. This includes regular software updates, the use of firewalls and antivirus software, and the implementation of strong access controls.
  • Continuous monitoring and auditing: Ensure that you regularly monitor the cyber security posture of your partners. Conduct periodic audits to ensure that agreed security standards are being met.
  • Incident response planning: Have a well-defined incident response plan in place that outlines the steps that should be taken when a supplier, and potentially your organization, is attacked. This could involve, for example, isolating affected systems, assessing the impact, and communicating transparently with stakeholders.
  • Training and awareness: Educate your employees about the risks associated with cyber security in the supply chain. Awareness can help to prevent or early identify and mitigate risks.


Collaboration can be a part of mitigating risks in the supply chain. You can, for example:

  • Information sharing: Sharing information about threats and vulnerabilities with all members of the supply chain improves collective security.
  • Joint initiatives: Participate in or initiate joint security protocols that involve multiple partners in the supply chain, fostering a culture of shared responsibility.


Compliance with relevant cybersecurity regulations and standards is not only a legal requirement for some organizations, but also a best practice. Complying with the GDPR or ISO 27001 will significantly improve your cyber security posture.


Mitigating cyber security risks in supply chains is not a one-time task, but an ongoing process. It requires a comprehensive approach that includes at least risk assessment, strong cyber security practices, collaboration, the use of technology, and compliance with legal standards. By embracing these strategies, businesses can protect themselves from the evolving threat landscape and increase the resilience of their supply chains. Remember, the chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

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