As we enter 2024, the threats posed by sophisticated cyber-attacks are expected to continue affecting major industries across the globe. With common incidents like ransomware attacks surging by almost 145% during the first quarter of 2023, cyber threats have perhaps never been so prominent, causing many business leaders to rethink their security strategies.

According to recent reports, around 45% of c-suite executives expect the number and severity of cyber-attacks targeting their organization’s supply chains to increase in the coming year, with almost 35% experiencing one or more supply chain attacks during 2023.

To appropriately defend against these attacks, and to protect organizations from a rise in supply chain security threats, advanced protective measures are being developed and adapted to better address novel risks. To explore these developments in greater detail, here are 4 supply chain security trends expected to impact operations in 2024.

1. Increased investments in cybersecurity

As the number and severity of sophisticated cyber-attacks continues to rise, governments and regulatory bodies have been forced to rethink outdated approaches to digital threat prevention. In 2021, the Biden administration issued an executive order intended to aid organizations in identifying and addressing novel threats, with the federal government committing significant resources to the development of new technologies and best practices.

In the three years since the unveiling of this order, organizations across the US have increased investments in targeted cybersecurity spending, both in terms of dedicated technological solutions and internal training programs. According to data published in 2023, spending in both of these areas has increased significantly, with investments in cybersecurity solutions rising by 62% and investments in staff training rising by almost 65%.

The same report goes on to detail additional areas in which organizations have committed to ongoing cybersecurityimprovements, namely through investments in external cybersecurity audits (40%) and preparations for organizational certifications (34%). As global organizations push on with strengthening supply chain security during 2024, this trend is likely to continue.

2. The rising importance of DevSecOps

While cybersecurity improvements might represent the foundation of many businesses’ efforts to strengthen supply chain security, such improvements may only be truly effective when combined with appropriate organizational shifts. To ensure new cybersecurity tools are properly supported, staff must rethink their approach to the integration of security solutions.

Development, security and operations (DevSecOps) outlines a more sophisticated approach to the deployment of supply chain security solutions. Rather than viewing security as a facet to be considered towards the end of the development cycle, organizations that pursue a DevSecOps approach consider potential security exploits through every stage of the design process.

By integrating security checks and ensuring professional insights are considered continually, organizations can improve both cyber and physical security capabilities across key departments. Shared knowledge helps to prevent information silos forming to reduce the risk of human error, an element present in 74% of breaches, so it’s little surprise that DevSecOps adoption continues to grow.

3. Leveraging automation to improve processes

It’s been long known that modern organizations spend a lot of time performing repetitive manual processes. In fact, research suggests employees waste as much as 40% of their time performing such tasks. When this concept is applied to the reviewing of supply chain security solutions, a significant issue begins to form.

While modern commercial security systems may be more technologically advanced than ever before, unforeseen problems can still occur. It’s for this reason that frequent assessments and tests must be conducted to ensure new exploits are not exposed. But as the size and complexity of supply chain security solutions grows, diverting resources to this task can become difficult.

A potential solution may be found in the increased deployment of automated and AI-informed systems, enabling teams to ensure security systems are regularly reviewed without placing strains on existing departments. This concept is already in operation within many organizations, with the adoption of automated security testing systems believed to have risen by 200% in recent years.

The deployment of automated systems can also help to improve supply chain management in additional ways. For example, production monitoring software enables teams to collect accurate production data continually, providing managers with real-time insights to improve visibility. With a clearer understanding of real-time production events, stakeholders can ensure related systems operate optimally to mitigate security vulnerabilities.

4. The importance of third-party risk management

For many organizations, the only realistic way to implement supply chain security measures is to pursue third-party software integrations. While it’s safe to assume such companies have plans in place to prevent internal breaches, hackers often view third-party providers as primary targets.

As cybercriminals understand that successfully breaching popular providers will likely expose massive amounts of sensitive data, attacks of this variety can be lucrative. This idea is reflected in the supply chain attack suffered by SolarWinds, where hackers compromised a single system to steal data from over 30,000 organizations.

While it may not be possible to completely eliminate this risk, organizations can reduce the likelihood of suffering similar attacks by increasing their focus on third-party risk management. Strategies must be developed to ensure potential weaknesses in third-party systems are identified, addressed and mitigated, with companies committing resources to these processes while continually reviewing active tools.

Summary

As organizations across most major industries continue to pursue growth on a global scale, the importance of well-implemented supply chain security systems will remain a top priority. Investments in cybersecurity solutions and training will likely continue to increase, with security, IT and development teams working together to ensure new tools remain secure.

The frequent testing and assessment of active supply chain security systems will also need to be considered an essential practice. Though with both cyber and physical security systems becoming increasingly complicated, automation may be necessary to support overburdened internal departments.

Finally, as cyber incidents targeting third-party vendors continue to represent a significant threat, an increased focus must be placed on third-party risk management to improve supply chain security and better mitigate novel threats.

Source: Mike Pedersen