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Data center security threats and their common denominator: Supply chain visibility

- 3 minute read

Most articles surrounding data center security threats point to generic vulnerabilities that organisations have long been aware of. While subjects like endpoint security and Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks are still prevalent, these considerations have been on our radar for quite some time. In short, they’re no longer our most pressing matters. 

In 2021, there’s only really one thing keeping IT professionals up at night and that’s supply chain visibility. Gaining clarity in your supply chain means you can protect your data center no matter what new threat looms on the horizon. Here’s why. 

Why supply chain visibility matters 

Supply chain visibility, or rather a lack of visibility, is a key issue for every organization with a data center. According to SANS Institute, supply chains account for around 80% of all cyber attacks. This means that no matter the approach a hacker takes, your supply chain is likely to be the weakest link and the reason why your data eventually falls victim. 

Hackers take new approaches to leverage personal data and commit fraud, but, in doing so, they’re always looking for ways to penetrate a data center’s protective walls, becoming more and more concerned with weak spots in a supply chain as a means of entry. 

We can see this in the infamous 2013 Target data breach, still serving as a great example as to why careful and conscientious supply chain management is imperative. 

In this breach, attackers compromised a third party vendor, using phishing emails to gain access to login credentials. From here, attackers gained portal access and control of Target’s servers before infecting Target’s point of sale (POS) system. If Target’s supplier, Fazio Mechanical, would have had a more robust protocol in place, the attack might never have happened, explaining just how influential suppliers can be to overall data security. 

So, while the singular threats an organisation faces change over time, supply chain visibility is the only constant, signalling what really matters. 

Data center security threats will look different now than they will in a year, or even in six months. But the problem will always point back to supply chain visibility and the vulnerabilities that working with third party suppliers presents. Whether it’s through Hollywood-style hacking or a physical intrusion through the impersonation of staff, attacks are made possible by poor supply chain management. 


Using third party suppliers

Using third party suppliers puts your organization at risk, as the more data you share and the more people you share it with provides more opportunities for attack. Each time you enlist the help of a third party, you’re adding another link to your chain and another blindspot if you fail to vet the supplier and gain visibility over their practices. 

Many organizations struggle with this, with 32% of businesses admitting they don’t know where all their third party suppliers store personal data. What’s more, 25% of the same group surveyed don’t think or don’t know if their third party suppliers could notify them within 72 hours of a breach. 

The issue with supply chain management is that it needs to be absolute. Knowing where most of your suppliers store data and how they manage it still leaves you at risk, as any one supplier can leave your organisation open to exploitation. All in all, only 6% of organizations report they have full visibility over their supply chain. 

In knowing this, it can be tempting to streamline your supply chain and reduce the number of links and organizations accessing your data. However, this isn’t always possible. 

In global organizations, extensive supply chains are part and parcel of maintaining a competitive advantage and retaining the ability to deliver products and services, at speed, anywhere in the world. 


Supply chain best practices 

Instead, supply chains need to be managed, audited and streamlined in terms of who accesses data when instead of how many people access data as a whole. Defining data is just as important as defining your supplier relationships, creating important boundaries for the most critical data in your data center. 

To combat any data center threat—now or in the future—supply chain visibility is the starting point. 

Read our blog on data center best practices to find out how you should approach supply chain management to best equip your organization and its data center. 

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