GUEST ESSAY: A primer on best practices for automating supply chain cybersecurity

By Zac Amos

Supply chain security grows more crucial daily as cybercriminals attempt to disrupt distribution and transportation. In response, industry professionals must automate their cybersecurity tools to stay ahead.

Why so? The 2020 SolarWinds cybersecurity incident — which industry experts call the supply chain attack of the decade — was an incredibly high-profile breach affecting massive corporations. While it may seem like an outlier, it reveals an alarming trend.

Professionals on the incident response team believe cybersecurity hasn’t improved and no one has learned from the situation. They point out how supply chains rely on software yet lack the security tools to protect them.

Simply put, cyberattacks are on the rise. Data breaches exposed over 37 billion records in 2020 alone — a 141% jump from 2019. Businesses must automatically secure their supply chains to protect themselves and comply with consumer-protection laws.

Automation best practices

The best practices for automating supply chain cybersecurity cover each stage of the process, ranging from installation to use.

•Comprehensive Integration. Organizations will only get the full benefits of supply chain cybersecurity automation with thorough integration. What use is automatic threat detection without an immediate response? A single-function tool creates security gaps since it needs to rely on others.

•Scalability. Tools should be scalable to grow with the business and maintain security. For example, automatic threat response software must be able to handle security even during a surge in malicious activity. Supply chain professionals have to ensure their technology can scale to meet demand increases.

•Ongoing monitoring. While automated tools can be beneficial, businesses must track them to ensure success. Ongoing monitoring is one of the best practices for cybersecurity automation because it results in optimal functioning. Supply chain professionals will need to measure performance metrics patiently to see how the technology improves upon previous tools.

•Vendor inclusion. While most supply chains rely on third-party vendors, they increase the chance of cyber attacks. Still, businesses trust them to handle cybersecurity since they’re supposed to be convenient. Even if they’re careful and use quality security measures, they broaden the attack surface.

For example, experts believe the June 2023 MOVEit supply chain cyber attack originated from a third-party employee working with cybercriminals. A single individual’s actions resulted in a data breach reaching over 160 people.

Automatic third-party risk management identifies potential relationship vulnerabilities, improving cybersecurity. Businesses should include this approach in their automation process to minimize security gaps and better protect themselves.

Tools tips

Although automation itself is convenient, its integration can be time consuming and complex. Supply chain professionals should consider implementing these tips to improve their processes. Here’s what to use for supply chain cybersecurity automation:

Quality tools: Better tools have higher performance potential. For example, quality artificial intelligence only needs milliseconds to process millions of data points.

Employee support: Many automated tools need human oversight or maintenance to reach their full potential. Their performance would benefit from employee support.

Modern tools: Companies should overhaul legacy systems to reduce security gaps between them and the new automation technology.

Quality data: Data-driven automation technology is only as good as the information it collects. Professionals must ensure they only use relevant, accurate details.

While many tools can complete tasks independently, only some can do so securely. Cybersecurity automation is most effective when organizations leverage quality technology and manual assistance.

Automation benefits


Timeliness, efficiency, reduced downtime and improved protection against cyber attacks are the top benefits of supply chain cybersecurity automation. Processes like threat identification and incident response move much more quickly and are often more accurate.

Efficiency is one of the most significant benefits of supply chain cybersecurity automation. Industry leaders need help finding skilled workers, with around 57% of organizations stating labor shortages are their largest obstacle as of 2023.

Businesses should consider adopting cybersecurity automation technology since it’s a cost-effective approach to labor shortages. Additionally, it may produce higher-quality work since many tools leverage massive data sets.

Automatic supply chain cybersecurity is essential for modern-day organizations, considering how cyber attacks continue to become more frequent. They must implement the best practices and consider optimizing their processes to protect themselves.

About the essayist: Zac Amos writes about cybersecurity and the tech industry, and he is the Features Editor at ReHack. Follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn for more articles on emerging cybersecurity trends.

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