Security Challenges in Supply Chain Management

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There are many things that could go wrong in supply chain management to cause a major disruption in the transfer of goods and services from the supplier to the customer. Multiple players (companies, people, and nations) are at work, which are all vulnerable to what are often unpredictable threats such as natural disasters, accidents, or security breaches. Supply chain management must actively take measures to safeguard against these threats. According to Material Handling & Logistics, “The success of a business’s global supply chain…depends on the rigor of their approach to managing and mitigating risks.”

 

Homeland Security has a National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security in place outlining its goals of promoting the secure movement of goods and fostering a global supply chain system that is equipped to withstand threats and quickly recover from disruptions. If you care to read the entire 16 pages of the strategy, you can do so here; however, in the essence of time, I’ll explain some of the biggest threats to supply chain management that exist today and how to manage them.

 

Facilities

Cargo theft is one of the greatest risks of supply chain management. According to FreightWatch International, cargo thefts were more than four times as common in 2016 as they were in 2012. U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s minimum security criteria state that all containers and transportation vehicles require security inspections to ensure they are properly sealed and employees are prepared to report and resolve any unauthorized entries. Additionally, all cargo and storage facilities must be equipped with protective barriers including fences, gates, alarm systems, video surveillance, and proper locking systems. Criminals are devising new methods, however, such as using bolt cutters to open cargo locks. Therefore, transportation companies must regularly reevaluate their security methods to optimize performance and minimize risk.

 

Employees

Supply chain companies must conduct thorough investigations and background checks of their employees to ensure they are not threats to security, that they follow all safety protocol and can be trusted to handle confidential information.

 

Business Partners

Who a supply chain company conducts business with should be a top consideration. According to the CBP, all foreign manufacturers and business partners must demonstrate their adherence to security criteria via written or electronic confirmation.

 

Cybersecurity

Unfortunately, the same technology that is put in place to prevent security breaches can also cause them. “Connectivity may be the ultimate double-edged sword,” according to Forbes. Cybersecurity is becoming an increasing concern across various industries as hackers devise new methods to compromise data. Virtually no field is immune to cyber attacks. “We now live in a world where most every supplier of products and services is expected to conduct business electronically,” says Forbes contributor Paul Martyn. So, if relying upon electronic technology is inevitable, how can supply chain companies ensure their safety? In order to combat hackers, supply chain companies will need to invest money and resources into network improvements , software, and hardware access control. The use of supply chain segmentation strategies to develop tight relationships with suppliers and streamline the transfer of information is also key.