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Top 3 Supply Chain Disruptions That Threaten Our National Security

There are a multitude of threats that our society faces and some of the biggest come from disruptions in our supply chain infrastructure. These can be physical threats but more often they are cyber-attacks that originate from countries such as Russia, China, Iran or North Korea with a goal of stealing intellectual property. But even inside the U.S. we have internal industrial espionage where one company will do anything to find out as much as possible about a competitor, including stealing their intellectual property.

In short, our supply chain infrastructure is constantly getting hit from all sides. The top three biggest threats within that infrastructure are disruptions to our intermodal transport system, our pipelines, and our bridges. Disruptions to any of these systems can have the potential for major negative effects throughout our society and drastically change the way we live our daily lives. It’s scary to think these systems are under constant attack and can be vulnerable to hacking and/or physical destruction. And with over 5.7 million companies in the American supply chain, this is a serious matter that continuously needs addressing.

Below we’ll provide insight into how these three disruptions can threaten our national security and be fatal to our society.

Top 3 Supply Chain Disruptions

Disruptions to our intermodal transport system. Intermodal transport systems involve moving shipping containers (think semi-truck or cargo ship containers) between two or more methods of transportation. These typically include transport by railways, waterways, and/or trucking. Example threats to this system include:

  • Hacks to the computer systems that manage multiple networks of trucks and their routes.

  • Lock-out or ransomware attacks on shipping vessel systems.

  • Attacks on railway systems that cause trains to stop in their tracks.

All of these threats can lead to a disruption in the form of major delays, stolen cargo and leaked sensitive data. If things get severe enough, there can be loss of life from people not being able to get much-needed or life-saving products.

Disruptions to our pipelines. This includes gas, oil, water and natural gas. If an enemy nation really wanted to hurt the U.S, they could compromise our pipelines that are above ground and marked. A targeted physical attack could have the enemy placing charges strategically in certain city or neighborhood lines to blow them up. If it was a large-scale, coordinated strike, you could have multiple major cities throughout the U.S suddenly lose the ability to generate heat, create energy, have drinkable water, and so on. No heat in winter. No gas for cars. No running water or worse – contaminated water. These are real possibilities that would negatively affect everyone involved.

Disruptions to our bridges. This includes train and automobile bridges. Imagine all the bridges along the Mississippi river get hacked or are somehow destroyed. If this were to occur, it would cut off the East coast to the “breadbox” of America in the Midwest; i.e., the food supply would be cut off. That would have devastating consequences for the eastern coast and if the disruption was long enough, you would have a food shortage and many people would go hungry.

How to Prepare, Prevent and Recover from Disruptions in our Supply Chain

There are multiple ways companies involved in the supply chain of America can prepare for attack, prevent it from happening and recover if the worst was to occur.

  1. Tighten up your cybersecurity with these three standards that protect your supply chain, including ISO 27001.

  2. Use antiviral and anti-trojan software in every system within your company.

  3. Have risk management/identification and mitigation strategies in place. These can be developed as part of various ISO certifications.

  4. Put together a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) and practice it. This is a plan that ensures your business can continue to function even during the worst of emergencies.

If companies within our supply chain don’t plan for an attack, then the plan is to fail. Our intermodal transport systems, pipelines and bridges can all be compromised because they can all be hacked. And it can happen in an instant. Protect yourself through the steps above and let’s talk if your plan involves ISO.


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