05 Feb 2024
by Quentyn Taylor

Removing the weakest link: Strengthen the security of your supply chain

Guest blog by Quentyn Taylor, Senior Director – Product, Information Security and Global Incident Response at Canon Europe, Middle East, and Africa #NatSec2024

Supply chain risks can be both physical and digital, inherent or introduced. What’s more, is that the rapid advancements of technology and rising severity of ransomware attacks have created greater risks to critical supply chains, major industries, and the state of national security.

In fact, the implications of a security breach could result in financial costs and damages as well as harming public trust. Plus, legal and regulatory requirements could put your business at risk of prosecution. Yet, despite these risks, only a third of businesses report having undertaken cybersecurity risk assessments in 2023.[1]

So, what can organisations do to prevent such risks? The key thing to remember is that the nature of supply chains is like a domino effect: when one organisation suffers a breach it can impact all other organisations in the same supply chain. Businesses must not wait until a threat arises to take action. They need to be proactive in protecting assets, as even a minor incident could cause catastrophic implications.

Getting the basics covered: cyber hygiene

When implementing a security strategy, organisations need to acknowledge that a ‘one size fits all’ scenario won’t work - as each supply chain has a unique structure. So, when it comes to strengthening your supply chain you first need to understand your business’s perimeters and unique vulnerabilities.

It is also crucial that your business gets the basic principles of cyber hygiene right. This includes keeping software up to date and installing malware protections. Additionally, using multi-factor authorisation (MFA) for sensitive information and encrypting critical documents, will help prevent breaches from escalating from low-level attacks. Conducting regular perimeter checks, patching and risk assessments will help businesses stay alert to the vulnerabilities and weak points in their supply chain. Minimum security requirements must be put in place for all organisations in your network. From suppliers to resellers, a supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Whilst different industries have different security standards and regulations its critical that infosec teams understand not only who makes up their supply chain but the security status of these companies.

Additionally, security risks are increased for complex supply chains with hybrid working. Sensitive information is not only travelling between different stakeholders, but is now dispersed across multiple personal devices, both in the office and at home. This inevitably increases exposure to cyberattacks. The more dispersed that supply chains become, the more cybersecurity becomes a shared responsibility for all organisations to prioritise in day-to-day processes.

Having said this, the competency of employees is often overlooked as a crucial cybersecurity defense mechanism. We need to remember that people form the backbone of supply chains, as they are responsible for moving information and deliverables throughout supply networks. This is where good communication becomes an essential pillar of good security. It is imperative that every employee, across the entire supply chain, is well-equipped in how to prevent, identify and respond to security threats - particularly when working from home. In this sense, an air-tight response plan should be agreed upon by all stakeholders and intermediaries so that employees feel competent in the event of a cyberattack.

A cyber resilience future

With the escalating frequency and severity of cyberattacks, the protection of supply chains has become a national security concern. Therefore, regulation needs to be escalated to an international level in order to protect critical assets and information. The Cyber Resilience Act (CRA), which will likely come into effect in 2027 is a major step forward towards a more unified approach. The CRA will help businesses make more informed decisions about the security software they are using by establishing a cross-national standard for security products and the level of protection that they offer. Driven by the European Union, Canon is actively involved in the development of the CRA and is an advocate for security regulation that reflects the true severity of this issue.

As a general rule, partnering with suppliers that are accredited under the ISO/IEC 27001 certificate or even Cyber Essentials will ensure that security is a shared priority across the supply chain.

Overall, a strong and secure supply chain is essential for any business that wants to remain cyber resilient.  So, now we’ve kicked off the new year, this is the perfect opportunity for businesses to take the reins on supply chain security and invest in long-term protection, both for now and into the future.

Canon is recognised by the IDC MarketScape as a leader in worldwide security solutions and services and has partnered with leading industry specialists in information security to safeguard organisations documents and sensitive data, through every stage of its lifecycle.

[1] GOV.UK Cyber security breaches survey 2023

Link https://www.canon.co.uk/business/solutions/security/?utm_campaign=gb_dps_wrkspc_security&utm_medium=digasset&utm_source=guide&utm_content=_tech-uk-article--supply-chain-security-and-risk

techUK’s National Security Week 2024 #NatSec2024

The National Security team are delighted to be hosting our annual National Security Week between Monday, 22 January 2024, and Friday, 26 January 2024.

Read all the insights here.

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Quentyn Taylor

Quentyn Taylor

Senior Director - Information Security, Product Security and Global Response, Canon EMEA

Using the power of stories and his own experience of testing products to destruction; Quentyn has embraced building business relationships across the world - whilst driving Canon’s strategy and educating business customers around minimising their security risk. Before joining Canon, Quentyn worked in a variety of industries, including Internet service providers and startup businesses.