Source-to-Pay+ Part 9: Cyber

In Part 1 we noted that Risk Management went much beyond Supplier Risk, and the primitive Supplier “Risk” Management application that is bundled in many S2P suites. Then, in Part 2, we noted that there are risks in every supply chain entity; with the people and materials used; and with the locales they operate in. In Part 3 we moved onto an overview of Corporate Risk, in Part 4 we took on Third Party Risk (in Part 4A and Part 4B), in Part 5 we laid the foundation for Supply Chain Risk (Generic), in Part 6 we addressed the first major supply chain risk: in-transport, followed by the second major supply chain risk: lack of multi-tier visibility in Part 7. In our last article, Part 8, we discussed the baseline Analytics that should be part of all of the different risk systems we covered in Parts 3 through 7, as well as a control centre.

Today, in Part 9, we move onto Cyber Risks. In today’s hyperconnected SaaS world, nearly half of an organization’s data breaches originate in the cloud (see this recent article by Illumio on Cyber Magazine, for example). So cyber security is important, but not just for your organization — for your entire supply chain.

Note that we are not going to dive deep, there are plenty of security firms that will do that for you. We’re just going to highlight key points of risk that must be covered in your cyber security plan.

Internal Cyber Risk Monitoring and Prevention System
Risks that must be addressed.

Risk Description
E-mail Plenty of risks come in through e-mail. The biggest one you are likely aware of is fraudlent requests for payment from fraudsters posing as fake suppliers / service providers / consultants or new employees in a remote office asking you to approve an emergency payment. However, since fraudsters blast these far and wide (as it takes less work to create them), the most common fraudulent emails are usually phishing/ransom attempts where you have to click an email and enter your system login information to retain access to your email account (or another system you use). (Then they use those credentials you freely gave them to login to your systems, lock you out of them, and demand payment to unlock your account.)

Your email system needs to do more than identify an external sender. It, or the security plug in, needs

  1. to verify the originating domain of the email (since most fraudsters can’t mask the domain they send from),
  2. to identify the domain and location of the first intermediate server the message hits (since that can’t be masked unless they’ve hacked that) as well as if it matches the locale of the domain the email purports to come from, and
  3. to identify the domain of each embedded link and the company it belongs to (as fraudsters are great at registering domains just ONE letter of an actual domain and cloning the contents of the faked domain; e.g. vs … one is your bank, one will soon be scooped up by a fraudster who will skim account logins for a day during a “maintenance window”, then drain all the accounts dry (or at least to the transfer limits) the next day and wire the money to a foreign account in a jurisdiction with no extradition or banking treaties with the US, then empty the account the day after that, and then disappear never to be seen again …
Hacking Hackers will constantly be trying to penetrate your firewalls, the web servers and underlying operating systems of machines in the DMZ, the applications you are running, and the underlying security systems you use for monitoring and detection (but these are likely the most secure, especially if you are having them maintained and monitored by a professional, big name, IT security firm); You need to be monitoring for unusual activity, (D)DoS attacks, repeated login failures or access abandonments at particular ports or in particular application logs, and so on; You also need a few attractive honeypots that emulate the systems the hackers would want to access most, and if you don’t understand this, or why, talk to your security guru.
Ransomeware Hackers want to access your systems for two reasons, to steal money and IP or lock you out of them (if they can’t access any IP worth stealing or you don’t use any finance systems capable of [authorizing] payments) so you will pay them to get back into your systems. You need to be very careful to not only detect hacking attempts, but the installation of new software that is unrecognized / not authorized by security. This is because you could be totally screwed and have no choice but to pay the ransomware even if you do complete, incremental, daily backups across all systems because smart hackers will install the ransomware, let it sit for a few weeks or so, and then activate when you can’t roll back to a backup because you’d lose weeks or months of data (as you’d have to roll back to just before the ransomware was installed because the majority of backup systems would not be able to identify the actual file changes and there’s no way you could do a restore and not restore the ransomeware after the ransomware was discretely installed).
Infected Websites Your users love to surf, surf, surf the web and go where the hidden links take them. You can’t expect they will all keep their browsers up to date, keep the underlying OS up to date, and, simply put, not be careless. You need to enforce security software on their machine, and check for it, before that machine accesses your network and that the security software is up to date because if they visit the right infected website (from a fraudster’s point of view), it can be an instant hack and/or backdoor for the automatic installation of ransomware on their machine and/or your network.

External Cyber Risk Monitoring and Prevention System
Risks that must be addressed.

Risk Description
Compromised Supplier Site If a supplier site or system is compromised, and you engage with that system in any way, then your system could be compromised. You need a system that monitors for supplier system/site/cloud risks as well as (known) supplier breaches.
Compromised Data All of your systems run off of data. Compromised data is the easiest way to compromise a system. If an email gets intercepted and altered in-transit with a man in the middle account and the hacker changes bank account information, you’re paying a fraudster and not the supplier. If the third party risk metrics are adjusted, your system can be tricked to diverting all business to a single, new, supplier which, while a legal entity, was setup by the founder to take your money and run. And so on.
Compromised Identities Identity theft is on the rise, and it’s often the easiest way for a fraudster to get funds from a business. You need to track all known cases of identify theft associated with all individuals associated with all businesses associated with your business as you will need to do extra verifications on requests from those individuals.
Web-Based Vulnerabilities You need to be aware of where the biggest web-based vulnerabilities are in your suppliers and partners, make sure your suppliers and partners monitor and address those, and make sure you lock down your security to the max when you have to interact with their systems that are classified as high risk for vulnerability.

And more. There’s a lot of risk in cyberspace thanks to the fact that the information and financial worlds have merged, and your organization needs to be on top of it. Identify appropriate providers, or you will need very good luck to not fall victim to a significant cyber-based threat.