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Supply Chain Risk

Are your legacy systems an open door to cyber attacks?

Often the business systems you rely on most can be the most neglected. They have been running well for years without much attention. The assumption is that this situation will continue and the business can focus and invest in more ‘sexy’ solutions. However, long held assumptions must be challenged.

Facing new workplace realities

It can be daunting to look back on the events of the last few years and the list of issues we have all faced with the often-unexpected impacts on our employees and ways of working.

The threats posed to business are changing. Are our long-held assumptions still valid? Are our organisations as secure and resilient as they need to be? Is it time to take stock and develop new strategies?

The pandemic drove employees to work from home and it seems as if a more hybrid working model is here to stay. This has pushed out the security boundaries of organisations and introduced new points of vulnerability. No longer are the vast majority of staff accessing business systems from the relatively secure environment of the office. Employees now need access to core systems via their home internet or mobile devices.

The Great Resignation

The COVID-19 pandemic also prompted the phenomenon known as the ‘Great Resignation’. It has seen record numbers of people change jobs or simply leave the job market completely. However, The Institute of Employment Studies sees this more as the ‘Great Retirement’ with many over 50s falling out of the UK workforce. UK labour market statistics have shown that there are now 180,000 fewer over 50s in work than before the pandemic. Is your organisation in danger of losing long term staff who’ve kept your key legacy systems running smoothly?

We believe that the pendulum will swing back towards the office. People whose first job was working from home will realise the importance of forming relationships, teamwork, collaboration and taking on leadership roles. Nevertheless, we need to continue to be aware of the impacts of hybrid working and adjust accordingly.

Supply chain upheavals

The pandemic, the war in Ukraine and Brexit have shone the spotlight on supply chains and led to governments and businesses questioning the benefits of globalisation. Even after two years of COVID-19, supply chain surprises continue to emerge. CNN recently reported, “China’s unwavering commitment to stamping out COVID by locking down big cities such as Shanghai threatens to deal a hefty shock to its vast economy, place more strain on global supply chains and further fuel inflation.”

Shanghai is China’s most populous city at 26 million, home to its leading financial centre, and some of its largest sea and airports. Lock down here will have a much greater impact on global supply chains than the closure of the likes of Wuhan, China’s 9th largest city with a population of eight million. This is just one of many examples of why organisations are looking again at their key suppliers. It, in turn, will impact supply chain and production systems to which trusted partners are given access.

There is a significant increase of supply chain risk across all our industries. It suggests that as a nation we must maintain some capability in the UK so that we do not lose the competencies essential to our supply chain.

In IT this can mean we ensure all work is properly documented, and all teams contain a UK-based employee so that we can always re-train our technical staff. We also need to be able to rapidly skill-up new employees if our remote workers suddenly become unavailable.

Increased cyber threats

Hybrid working and the changes in supply chains will increase vulnerabilities. This is compounded by ever evolving threats from cyber attackers and an increased level of danger from state-sponsored bad actors.

Many expected Russian cyber attacks against Ukraine. The Ukrainian government called on the ‘hacker underground’ to come to its defence which has offered some levels of protection. A more complete understanding of the impact of the cyber element of the Russian attack of Ukraine will not be possible until after the conflict ends. However, The Council on Foreign Relations has already identified numerous malware and denial of service attacks on Ukraine which have been kept off the front pages by more traditional warfare.

If the war continues and deepens it is likely that other nations, businesses and supply chains could see increased cyber attacks from Russia and other sources of state-sponsored cyber aggression.

Protect your systems of record

With so much changing over the last few years, is your business now at greater risk from cyber attack? A large proportion of cyber security effort has been focused on newly installed systems and apps which are often customer facing. This is important but have you left an open door to vital legacy systems?

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