The advances in global economy is being undermined by organized crimes, threats of terrorism, and other criminal elements who are intent on disrupting the global supply chain through a variety of methods. Through the years, hundreds of billions of dollars-worth of economic merchandise are lost to cargo theft and other criminal activities that aim to exploit the observed lapses in security measures employed by the private sector.
According to customs organizations all over the world, there are certain areas in the supply chain system that are vulnerable to attacks either by lawless elements or by terrorist organizations. As such, companies in the private sector are obliged to consider beefing up the security in these identified areas.
For starters, the Container Security Initiative of the US CBP calls for the use of smarter and tamper-evident shipping containers. This is in addition to the use of automation to identify containers that may pose a significant security threat as well as the use of advanced detection technology in order to pre-screen shipping containers that are considered security threats. Companies can therefore have to invest in technology that makes their shipping containers tamper-proof.
Companies can also invest in some form of physical security measures. This can include the installation of video surveillance solutions in strategic locations of the facility as well as the commercial vehicles that are designed to carry and transport the merchandise to their respective destinations. While the prospect of arming shipping company personnel with firearms is quite tempting, a few moving and shipping companies have resorted to the services of professional security escorts to provide the necessary protective coverage of the cargo.
Another area where companies that are involved in the supply chain can improve on is in the area of access controls. Here, access to critical components in the supply chain is limited only to a few select and trustworthy individuals. Providing for different levels of access clearances to individual employees has also been deemed as a necessary action in order to curb the rising incidence of security breaches. Identifying the clear-cut roles and functions of each individual member of the supply team can help in the determination of appropriate security clearances.
The systems and procedures involved in the different aspects of the supply chain can also be exploited by lawless elements. As such, it is imperative that private companies institute measures that will safeguard the integrity and security of these systems. Establishing protocols and procedural guidelines can help guard against unlawful activities. When taken together with the establishment of access controls and physical security measures, procedural security will ensure that every critical step in the supply chain is followed to the letter.
A more controversial yet very necessary security measure that all companies need to initiate is personnel security. Companies are thus required to devise policies and procedures that are aimed at minimizing or managing the risk of unauthorized access to company resources by employees. Personnel security measures ensure that the access granted to employees are not exploited for unauthorized purposes. This works incredibly well with access control measures.
Today’s supply chain relies heavily on automation. As such, companies should also invest in some form of security for its information technology systems. Safety nets must be in place to manage the threats of cyber-attack such as distributed denial of service attacks and cyber extortion. IT professionals should be more than ready with improving the security features of their company’s network infrastructure.
Companies can also do well to provide training programs that are designed to increase the awareness of their employees in the need for increased security measures. They also need to be trained on the integration of security measures into their daily operations.
Lastly, companies need to institute a process of verification of the security practices of their business partners. As the supply chain involves a lot of parties, any one of these can pose a significant threat to the overall integrity of the supply chain. It should be noted that while a certain company may institute high levels of security for its part in the supply chain, if other companies do not, then there is clearly no guaranteeing that security breaches will no longer occur.