• Friday, March 01, 2024
businessday logo


Technology, cybersecurity, and its effects on global supply chains

UN Global Compact Network partners Dangote Group

There is a need to ensure that global supply chains are secure. This is particularly significant given that disruptions to the global supply chain can adversely affect food supply, mineral resources, and access to raw materials and finished products, to mention a few.

Despite this, supply chains remain vulnerable to attacks and cyber security breaches, with severe consequences. Beyond traditional security threats to the global supply chain, like armed conflict owing to the activities of terrorists and insurgents, as well as climate change resulting in extreme weather conditions, the threat posed by cybersecurity remains one of the most significant threats to the global supply chain.

Cybersecurity here is the management of information technology systems, networks, and software technology. While the valuable contributions of technology to human advancement are not contested, technology remains a double-edged sword in many ways. One of the causes for this is the possible attacks.

Cybersecurity attacks on critical energy and transportation infrastructure, such as power grids, rail lines, and airports, could lead to them shutting down. Beyond these, cyber security attacks on big pharmaceuticals are detrimental. The effects of these on human lives could be catastrophic, especially during global pandemics where poor and vulnerable populations would be solely dependent on access to vaccines.

Some of the specific ways technology has contributed to a more efficient and effective global supply chain include ensuring protection against cyber-crimes and other forms of cyber-terrorism

Over the years, technology has become an integral part of the global supply chain and contributed to the smooth running of businesses and international trade. Some of the specific ways technology has contributed to a more efficient and effective global supply chain include ensuring protection against cyber-crimes and other forms of cyber-terrorism.

These attacks are usually manifested in the forms of targeted spyware and malware, created to wreak havoc on computers and networks, as well as other forms of cyber-crimes such as data thefts and more advanced threats popularly referred to as Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs). It is crucial to clearly understand the specific threats cybersecurity poses to the global supply chain. While they are numerous, they can be broadly categorized under thefts of sensitive data, intellectual property, and cloud technology. Now, you may ask why this is important.

Effective global supply chains rely on data sharing across the supply chain link, particularly about online and e-commerce-related businesses. Cybersecurity attacks targeting sensitive data could compromise the privacy of sensitive data belonging to consumers, which could range from individuals, companies, and states, such as their online bank details and credit card details.

In the case of intellectual property, supply chains require proper record-keeping on products and systems. As a result, cybersecurity attacks targeted at the intellectual property of global supply chains could potentially damage the sanctity of confidentiality, eroding trust, which is critical in facilitating businesses globally.

Read also: “More cybersecurity talents are needed to bridge shortage

Furthermore, knowing the vast volume of data required to ensure an efficient and effective global supply chain process, data storage is paramount, hence the need for cloud-based sharing platforms. However, this also poses a significant risk that cybersecurity attackers are aware of and are often keen on exploiting. Preventing cybersecurity attacks requires that information technology systems are properly safeguarded against such attacks by according significant attention to the most vulnerable parts of the supply chain.

This is pertinent given that cyber-terrorists and criminals are mostly inclined to exploit these vulnerabilities in perpetuating their nefarious activities, which have monumental repercussions for the global supply chain. To effectively mitigate the risks posed by cybersecurity attacks to global supply chains, individuals, businesses, companies, and states are required to take certain deliberate and decisive steps.

These steps are broadly categorized under avoidance, reduction, transference, and acceptance strategies. Specific steps in this regard include regulating, updating, and upgrading software. To avoid the possibility of forgetting to do this as often as may be required, it is best to ensure that this process is automated. Only updates provided directly by vendors should be used.

Secondly, it is imperative to ensure that a disaster recovery plan (DRP) is put in place across the various links of the supply chain. This is critical in ensuring that the prospects of cyberattacks are properly mitigated. For this to work properly, it should be reviewed and updated periodically.

Thirdly, a deliberate effort must be made to identify network intrusions. This proactive stance would ensure that measures are taken to contain malicious spyware and malware. As with the previous point, this process should also be automated to guarantee a more defensive cybersecurity architecture across the global supply chain.

Other steps which could be taken include ensuring a monitoring third-party security posture, utilizing multi factor authentication, as well as hardware security features, amongst others. Ensuring these measures are in place remains critical to protecting the global supply chain from cybersecurity attacks from cybercriminals and cyber-terrorists. The stakes are too high to relegate this to mere negligence.