Supply Chain Hits Cybersecurity Hard

The unpredictable shortage of goods because of pandemic-triggered supply chain problems is broad: plastic cup lids, woodworking tools, paper goods, and lumber, to name a few.

Not to mention computer chips, the lack of which have put many production lines out of whack. Try to buy a new automobile at all, let alone one with some of the features you might want.

“Automotive manufacturers are releasing vehicles with fewer features due to the shortage of chips,” says Nuspire chief security officer J.R. Cunningham. “Cellphone charging pads, infotainment systems, and even heated seats in cars are being pulled away as options in to conserve chips so cars being sold are still drivable with that minimum level of functionality, without the bells and whistles.”

The same shortages are creating potential danger in the cybersecurity world, with stoppages creating opportunities for criminals and shortages making it harder for companies and service firms to shore up online defenses and refresh critical hardware.

Criminals watching
Companies are under surveillance as criminals see disruptions as providing advantages.

“You have a lot of ships that are sitting at sea with unpredictable lead times,” Cunningham says. “It is a ripe opportunity for attackers, especially the Russians, the Iranians, and the Chinese threat actors, who really like to break stuff in the United States and will take advantage of such situations”

In addition, pandemic-induced changes in the nature of how companies conduct business and where people work and study have provided additional opportunities to cybercriminals and state actors.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17.5 million people, 11.3% of the entire workforce, worked from home in November 2021 completely due to the pandemic—down from the 48.7 million teleworking in May 2020, but still a big number. Other government data has suggested that prior to the pandemic, 13% of wage and salary workers had telework arrangements. There may be some overlap, but upwards of a quarter of the workforce might still be working from home at least part of the time, and that doesn’t account for people who cannot for various reasons work remotely.

"Covid really didn’t change anybody’s security strategy, it just drastically accelerated it—things like remote work and endpoint security, endpoint vulnerability management, and better remote connectivity, these things were already pretty much on everyone’s roadmap,” Cunningham adds.

Companies found themselves rapidly changing how they worked, which meant a sudden need to beef up cybersecurity capabilities to protect the entire enterprise, from remote endpoints to on-premises equipment and networks as well as cloud capabilities.

Supply chain double whammy
Here is where supply chain problems add a second challenge to cybersecurity. Expanded needs means upgrades to both software and hardware. Shortages of chips and other materials have an impact on product availability. Labor shortages anywhere along the supply chain affect arrival times, which can scuttle implementation schedules and plans.

“It really puts us kind of in a bind because we can’t project when things are going to get completed and we can’t move forward with technology refreshes, which exposes our clients and us in terms of using equipment and software that’s more vulnerable to the bad guys,” says Cunningham. “We have to make tradeoffs and any refresh or upgrade may be impacted months, depending on the piece of equipment that needs to be refreshed, so that’s the biggest impact.”

It’s not as though any service providers are in better shape because the issues transcend individual companies. “We talk to all our colleagues and others,” Yarrington says. “Everyone’s trying to figure out a way to manage through it and maneuver it, across the board. You can get lucky in certain spots with certain product lines, but eventually, you'll get delayed by 30 or 60 days or so. It’s universal.”

The situation is far worse for in-house efforts at corporations.

“I can’t tell you how many datacenters I have walked in and seen crusty old servers and firewalls, and network devices that are a decade-and-a-half old,” Cunningham says. “That’s not acceptable in today’s world because the bad guys can sniff that old technology out successfully, so if you're not going to be in the infrastructure business and keep stuff up to date, and you're in a situation now where you woke up and your firewall is end-of-life, you should leverage a third-party provider or the cloud to handle that for you.”

Why a service provider can help
Even though service providers have felt the impact of supply chain problems, they are likely in better shape to manage them, and for their clients, for two major reasons.

One is that they’re hyper aware of security issues—far more so than many corporations, which may be behind in normal maintenance and upgrading. Firms are more active in updating security at critical points, whether network equipment, servers, or endpoints. Companies are more likely to have let things go, falling further behind than the service firms are, and so with more ground to make up.

The second is that the entire firm is focused on providing security. Even during the extended supply chain issue, if they have equipment that needs updating but waiting on shipments, personnel can pay more attention to keep it safe and secure. Such firms are more likely able to keep not just themselves save, but their clients as well.

Featured

  • Maximizing Your Security Budget This Year

    7 Ways You Can Secure a High-Traffic Commercial Security Gate  

    Your commercial security gate is one of your most powerful tools to keep thieves off your property. Without a security gate, your commercial perimeter security plan is all for nothing. Read Now

  • Busy South Africa Building Integrates Custom Access Control System

    Nicol Corner, based in Bedfordview, Johannesburg, South Africa, is home to a six-star fitness club, prime office space, and an award-winning rooftop restaurant. This is the first building in South Africa to have its glass façade fully incorporate fritted glazing, saving 35% on energy consumption. Nicol Corner (Pty) LTD has developed a landmark with sophisticated design and unique architecture by collaborating with industry-leading partners and specifying world-class equipment throughout the project. This includes installing a high-spec, bespoke security and access control system. Read Now

  • Only 13 Percent of Research Institutions Are Prepared for AI

    A new survey commissioned by SHI International and Dell Technologies underscores the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) while exposing significant gaps in preparedness at many research institutions. Read Now

  • Survey: 70 Percent of Organizations Have Established Dedicated SaaS Security Teams

    Seventy percent of organizations have prioritized investment in SaaS security, establishing dedicated SaaS security teams, despite economic uncertainty and workforce reductions. This was a key finding in the fourth Annual SaaS Security Survey Report: 2025 CISO Plans and Priorities released today by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), the world’s leading organization dedicated to defining standards, certifications, and best practices to help ensure a secure cloud computing environment. Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity

Webinars

New Products

  • EasyGate SPT and SPD

    EasyGate SPT SPD

    Security solutions do not have to be ordinary, let alone unattractive. Having renewed their best-selling speed gates, Cominfo has once again demonstrated their Art of Security philosophy in practice — and confirmed their position as an industry-leading manufacturers of premium speed gates and turnstiles. 3

  • ResponderLink

    ResponderLink

    Shooter Detection Systems (SDS), an Alarm.com company and a global leader in gunshot detection solutions, has introduced ResponderLink, a groundbreaking new 911 notification service for gunshot events. ResponderLink completes the circle from detection to 911 notification to first responder awareness, giving law enforcement enhanced situational intelligence they urgently need to save lives. Integrating SDS’s proven gunshot detection system with Noonlight’s SendPolice platform, ResponderLink is the first solution to automatically deliver real-time gunshot detection data to 911 call centers and first responders. When shots are detected, the 911 dispatching center, also known as the Public Safety Answering Point or PSAP, is contacted based on the gunfire location, enabling faster initiation of life-saving emergency protocols. 3

  • QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC)

    QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC)

    The latest Qualcomm® Vision Intelligence Platform offers next-generation smart camera IoT solutions to improve safety and security across enterprises, cities and spaces. The Vision Intelligence Platform was expanded in March 2022 with the introduction of the QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC), which delivers superior artificial intelligence (AI) inferencing at the edge. 3