Physical Layer Visibility Is Vital for Proper Supply Chain Risk Management

Physical Layer Visibility Is Vital for Proper Supply Chain Asset Risk Management

Managing supply chain asset risks has become an increasingly challenging task due to the growing adoption of technology within industry. While technology undoubtedly has its benefits, it also introduces new asset risks that are significantly difficult to manage. This problem can best be tackled by adopting tools that utilize physical layer visibility in order to provide robust asset risk management. Numerous vendors make up supply chains, and most organizations that rely on them do not have control over these suppliers. Thus, it is of utmost importance that organizations implement physical layer visibility solutions that provide an unobscured picture of potential hardware abnormalities that could have entered via the supply chain. Hardware discrepancies and anomalies must get detected immediately, as they could quickly become a major security risk that could disrupt the organizations operations. In this article, we will dive into three reasons why physical layer visibility benefits organizations and how this leads to efficient and comprehensive supply chain risk management.

Managing Supply Chain Risks is Key to Efficiency

Organizations aim to be profitable. And, to do so, they must maintain optimum operational efficiency. Supply chain asset risks can harm the efficiency of an organization, should a device not perform as expected. Physical layer visibility supports organizations in their quest for continuous operational efficiency by detecting a device’s true identity and identifying any anomalies in real-time. This actionable visibility prevents any errors in device authentication and enables supply chain asset risk management.

Regulation and the Road to a Healthy Governmental Relations 

The world, and supply chains, have grown more and more interconnected due to globalization. While this has boosted efficiency and brought greater choice to consumers, there is growing concern about data, privacy and security. As a result, organizations are required to comply with various regulations. Such regulations contain significant bureaucratic hoops that organizations must jump through, and failure to do so can result in hefty fines, among other consequences. In order to maintain regulatory compliance, it is necessary that organizations have complete asset visibility to verify supply chain integrity. A great example of when this is relevant is Section 889 of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which prohibits US government contractors from using hardware manufactured by specific vendors. These contractors must determine whether any of their hardware (or their suppliers’ hardware) has been manufactured by one (or more) of the barred vendors – an arduous task to carry out manually. Implementing a system that provides complete asset visibility ensures that organizations know the true identity of all connected devices, ensuring no unwanted assets are present. Without physical layer visibility, it would be nearly impossible for an organization to guarantee that their devices are compliant with Section 889. Moreoever, a simple change to the hardware along the supply chain could easily jeopardize other compliance efforts, and no one would know any better. Visibility ensures that all connected devices are seen and that their identity and behaviour are known.

Compatibility Equals Technological Tranquility

When ordering IT assets (often in large quantities), organizations rely on their suppliers to deliver, meaning every asset must behave and function as expected. However, let’s say you just received an order for new laptops from a tech supplier and, unbeknownst to you, some of the laptops had been refurbished. These refurbished devices, which have undergone firmware and hardware modifications, may not operate the way a new device would, resulting in compatibility issues. With physical layer visibility, such changes would get detected instantly, notifying the security team of the anomalies and any subsequent changes to the device’s risk posture. Furthermore, there could also be compatibility issues with the operational software, which can also be preemptively spotted by physical visibility. Compatibility is extremely important as any discrepancies can impact both the aforementioned points of regulatory compliance and operational efficiency.

Now that the trifecta of physical layer visibility has been established, hopefully it is clear why it is fundamental to supply chain asset risk management. Organizations cannot afford to sleep on the importance of physical layer visibility as a method to manage supply chain asset risks as the extensive reliance on an a number of suppliers is already heavy in every industry, and will only continue to grow as time goes on. The best way to manage and mitigate supply chain asset risks is to start with complete asset visibility!

About the Author

Romi Minin is Digital Marketing Manager at Sepio has created the first asset risk management platform that operates on asset existence rather than activity. Using physical layer asset DNA profiling, our solution provides customers with actionable visibility, policy enforcement and mitigation capabilities. These allow our customers to gain better control of all assets at scale. With trafficless monitoring, our solution is asset agnostic – whether your infrastructure is connected to IT/OT/IOT. Within 24 hours, Sepio’s solution will report what assets you actually have with their respective asset risk factor and help you achieve a stronger cybersecurity posture.

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