The 21st century has led many companies to push towards advanced logistics and technology infrastructure in order to keep up with an expanding digitalized climate. The strides made within the global shipping industry have been extensive. The rapid increase in modernized technology however came with the risk of vulnerability from newer and more dangerous cyber threats.

The world relies on supply chain ports and shipping company industries for manufacturing, obtaining raw materials, and the delivery of products. Corporations lean heavily on the integrity of the supply chain to keep their businesses running efficiently - even the slightest disruption to the supply chain can have devastating ripple effects. Due to this glaring vulnerability, shipping ports have now become the target of many supply chain cyber-attacks, and companies must now face a reality where entire supply lines can be crippled by a click of a button.

Why Target Shipping Ports?

How Supply Chain Cyber-Attacks Are Squeezing Businesses

The amount of traffic that most shipping ports see within a day is staggering, to say the least. Container News notes that with most of the largest and busiest container ports found in Asia, the continent is a crucial part of the global supply chain.

The networks of most modern freight infrastructure depend on connectivity to remain at the forefront of technology. Supply chain ports require more advanced structures and opt to digitalize the entire framework of operation - from navigation, design requirements, and distribution to production schedules, invoicing, and payments.

With all these features suddenly cloud-based and non-tangible, every step forward becomes a step towards vulnerability to multiple cyber-threats.

The Effects of Supply Chain Cyber Attacks

The trickle-down effects of a supply chain cyber-attack can have devastating effects – not only on companies but entire economies. A simple malicious software could halt the production process of an entire nation by simply targeting the ports they operate from.

The Port of Los Angeles executive director Gene Seroka told Sam Fenwick at the BBC that the number of attacks targeting the port is now around 40 million monthly. Fenwick reported that “they face daily ransomware, malware, spear phishing, and credential harvesting attacks, with the aim of causing as much disruption as possible and slowing down economies.”

Cyber-attacks on ports push to cause as much disturbance to the supply chain as possible by targeting the vulnerable software of ships. In a rush to modernize, most companies neglect the security aspects of their installed systems and leave themselves open to a number of vicious malware.

What Happens When Supply Chains to Ports are Disrupted?

Supply chain blockages have a domino effect on multiple industries - from raw material transportation to end product delivery. Published as part of the ECB Economic Bulletin, it’s suggested: “that supply chain shocks account for around one-third of the strains in global production networks.”

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic alone served as a visceral reminder to industries and consumers alike that the consequences of supply chain interferences have far-reaching and lasting effects. When shortages of supply occur, the repercussions spill over into every sector.

Financial losses

The financial fallout of halting a supply chain is met with the most apprehension. Companies face extensive fiscal backlash after supply chain cyber-attacks hinder supply/demand - from paying off ransoms to consumer litigation costs and the overall loss of production. Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that globally cybercrime will cost $10.5 Trillion annually by 2025.

The 2017 Maersk NotPetya ransomware attack showed substantial financial consequences when the shipping giant froze worldwide logistics operations, costing the firm up to $300 million in damages.

The possible financial impacts were demonstrated by the University of Cambridge Centre of Risk Studies (CCRS) in the publication of “Shen attack” – a report created based on the hypothetical scenario in which a computer virus carried by ships scrambled the cargo database records of 15 major Asia-Pacific ports - leading to dire effects on the global economy. The report found that economic losses from the theoretical disruption would lead to losses ranging from an estimated $40.8 billion to $109.8 billion.

Consumer Price Hikes

Supply chain disruptions also affect inflation - pushing the prices of essential goods and materials to alarming levels. The problem is in the supply being unable to meet demand - making the cost to consumers skyrocket with every delay.

Production Expenditure

While consumers do bear the brunt of supply chain disruptions, there is a drastic increase in production costs possibly as a result of being directly exposed to the damage.

Supply chain cyber-attacks such as the one on energy giant Shell forced them to reroute oil supplies after malware affected their systems, similar to the Colonial Pipeline incident which also saw the halting of production. Other countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands endured cyber attacks on their ports as well – resulting in huge supply line gridlocks.

Shortage of materials and services

A supply hindrance also affects the availability of resources and cuts down on manufacturing. Supply chainvcyber-attacks slow down the supply of services and materials – which is what happened to car manufacturing giant Toyota which suspended production after a key supplier in Japan was hit with a ransomware attack.

What Causes Cyber-Threats to Supply Chains?

Most causes of supply chain cyber-attacks stem from a basic lack of knowledge but it is not the only cause of the surge in cyber-crime against shipping companies.

Increased Cyber Facilities

The amount of information and leverage that can be used against companies pulled from vulnerable networks is astounding. Many hackers, and even governments, find it strategically more convenient to destabilize organizations through cyber-attacks – procuring sensitive information, ransoms, and generally disrupting supply chain port operations.

Sophistication of Malware

The dramatic development in technology comes with its own negative reflex of having equally, if not more advanced, cyber-threats to face. Supply chains now come under direct attack from types of malicious software that have worse implications and faster rates of infection.

Remote Work

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the escalation of remote working environments has put a toll on supply chains as well. With more people needing tablets, laptops, and other products to create an in-home workplace - the surplus of product needs has bottlenecked supply chain ports globally.

In pushing to virtualize operations, many companies tend to neglect security protocols – inviting in cyber-threats. This vulnerability still exists even within the hybrid work model - which is a blend of both in-person and remote working structures. Larger companies may have the resources to cope with these cyber attacks, but smaller businesses or systems accessed on home-based computer systems may find themmuch more difficult to thwart.

The complexity of Cloud Infrastructure

Many companies fail to push toward cloud computing infrastructure as they find the operation and management of cloud technology daunting. This allows the risk of on-site servers being compromised and a dangerously low level of security – leaving the company and supply chain vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Lack of Expertise

The general complacency of production and consumer-driven logistics also plays a huge role in these disruptions. Supply chain cyber-attacks depend mostly on human error and lack of preparation. Arina Palchik, the global commercial director of remediation at NCC Group has advised that “specific areas for improvement include clarity around responsibility for preventing, detecting, and resolving attacks.”

It has never been more necessary to implement sound cybersecurity and IT infrastructure in your organization to avoid the risk of any supply chain cyber-attack. This is where Sangfor steps in. Recognized in Forbes China 50 Most Innovative Companies 2022, Sangfor is dedicated to ensuring your cyber security needs are met.

How Do We Prevent Supply Chain Cyber-Attacks?

The risk of supply chain cyber-attacks is forever imminent and while we should remain optimistic, the threat to supply chains from cyber-criminals is too high to risk your company. We’ve seen how even the slightest disruption to supply chains can have overwhelming consequences in numerous ways, so how can businesses help secure themselves from cyber-threats against their supply chain?

Apply Supply Chain Risk Management

The supply chain is a very delicate and dynamic operation which requires applied assessment and engagement to ensure it runs smoothly. Dedicate your company’s resources to monitoring and disarming potential threats to the supply chain – from supply chain ports to the delivery logistics.

Building Up a Safety Stock

A safety stock is the additional products held in the inventory to null the consequences of potential supply chain disruptions. It acts as a buffer for your company in the event of a supply chain cyber-attack – ensuring sales and distribution do not halt if the supply chain does.

Diversifying Manufacturers and Suppliers

Supply chain cyber-attacks stand to break down entire production lines from attacking a single port. Relying on a single manufacturer for key components might result in catastrophe – invest in different supply partners to avoid the risk of cyber-attacks on supply chain ports destabilizing production.

Investing in Better Technology

The type of technology that a company uses is its biggest vulnerability – with outdated and lax security systems that act as the perfect doorway for cyber-attacks to debilitate your company’s software infrastructure. Breaches in security are a loss of credibility in the public eye and risks losing consumers to organizations better equipped to deal with cyber-attacks. Sangfor prides itself in being a leading cloud computing and cyber security provider and will ensure your company and assets are protected in the case of a supply chain cyber-attack.

In Closing: What Solutions are Provided by Sangfor?

Sangfor prides itself on being a leading cloud computing and cyber security provider. With advanced cloud infrastructure and managed cloud computing facilities, Sangfor takes the pressure off clients to build and maintain world-class data centers by providing the services needed to take your operation to new digital heights.

While Sangfor is at the forefront of technology – they can also understand that with every advancement, the cyber-threat increases as well. Sangfor provides the most encompassing and dedicated security for all your company’s needs:

Sangfor’s Cyber Security Solutions

  1. Sangfor’s Next Generation Firewall provides a holistic view of the entire organizational security network - with ease of operation and maintenance for administration.
  2. Sangfor’s Endpoint Secure is the best endpoint security solution available and ensures that any security threats are curbed swiftly and effectively.
  3. Cyber Command is the next-generation, AI-driven Network Detection and automated threat response platform that helps businesses identify threats and hunt them down.
  4. Sangfor’s Anti-Ransomware Solution impacts every step in the ransomware kill chain and is modular enough to be tailored to the requirements and budget of an organization.
  5. Sangfor’s SASE offers simple product implementation with real-time cloud-based incident response, active incident alerts, and one-click handling.
  6. Sangfor’s Extended Detection Defense and Response (XDDR) directly coordinate responses between Sangfor and some 3rd party products together using Cyber Command to integrate threat information - uncovering hidden threats to on-site or remote employees.
  7. Sangfor’s Incident Response: provides a full scope of all compromises, identifying every aspect of how an attack occurred.

Sangfor’s Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

Reliance on platforms such as Sangfor’s Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) provides backup and data protection in the case of cyber emergencies. While measures of security can be taken - in the case that threats bypass systems, having reliable infrastructure and support is just as important as having strong security.

In a drastically changing world of cyber-crime and technology threats, Sangfor aims to provide maximum security against supply chain cyber attacks and provide you with peace of mind. Find out more on the Sangfor website.


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