January 2021 | Commentary | Supply Chain Security

How Ransomware Kidnaps Supply Chains

Tags: Security, Big Data

The volume and sophistication of cyberattacks has increased in recent years, but even more so now with COVID-19 and the switch to remote work for many companies. Most notably, there has been a particularly concerning rise in ransomware attacks.

John Thielens, Chief Technology Officer, Cleo, 815-282-7695

Cybersecurity issues introduce a new threat to the supply chain by potentially taking a single supplier offline for days or even weeks, with massive implications for the overall customer experience.

With networks often relying on only one or two key suppliers at a time, if those suppliers are hit with a ransomware attack, the effects could be felt almost immediately at the consumer level when the order-to-fulfillment process ultimately fails to meet expectations.

Having an intimate understanding of the flow of goods through the supply chain, as well as the exchange of information between suppliers and partners, is key to quickly shifting operations and suppliers as needed.

Organizations must make several critical upgrades to their business processes and IT infrastructure to remain agile and continue to meet customer demand, despite unpredictable security disruptions. Those upgrades include:

  • Expedite new customer and partner onboarding processes. In a dynamically changing environment, time is of the essence. Being able to respond rapidly to changes in the business ecosystem and set up new partners, customers, and suppliers quickly is essential to maintaining business relationships and even capitalizing on disruption.
  • Eliminate unsecured, nonintegrated data practices. Reliance on legacy manual processes can significantly limit agility. As well as being error-prone, such processes can be stretched to a breaking point during supply chain disruption. A flexible integration framework can eliminate these risks.
  • Automate integration with enterprise resource planning (ERP). For most organizations, ERP is the core of the business, with tentacles that extend to partner, supplier, and customer interactions as well as to other internal systems.
  • Wherever possible, automating business processes by integrating ERP applications with other systems provides a solid backbone for the business, yielding resilience to respond to disruptions.

  • Move electronic data interchange (EDI) service to a stable platform. More than just stable, EDI needs to be robust and flexible. A potentially volatile and rapidly shifting supply chain means that organizations must be able to react swiftly. And that means being able to quickly integrate with new trading partners and modify existing supply chain relationships.
  • Lay the groundwork for future application integration and application programming interface (API) development to open the business to software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology. While EDI is still the core of many ecosystem interactions in the supply chain, more and more modern processes and SaaS platforms use APIs for integration.
  • Being ahead of the game with API and application integration tooling allows organizations to take advantage of new opportunities quickly, rapidly adopt value-added services as they appear, and not be limited by technology.

  • Consolidate vendors to reduce overlaps and encourage economies of scale. Many supply chain-dependent organizations still hold systems together with string and duct tape. Taking a consolidated view, and choosing tooling that can provide an integrated platform, can not only improve resilience, but also reduce the operational costs of maintaining multiple skill sets within the organization.

By addressing these opportunities, organizations can ensure that their supply chains are built to survive and thrive in today's highly uncertain environment.






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