The purpose of this paper is to explore how companies approach the management of cyber and information risks in their supply chain, what initiatives they adopt to this aim, and to what extent along the supply chain. In fact, the increasing level of connectivity is transforming supply chains, and it creates new opportunities but also new risks in the cyber space. Hence, cyber supply chain risk management (CSCRM) is emerging as a new management construct. The ultimate aim is to help organizations in understanding and improving the CSCRM process and cyber resilience in their supply chains.
This research relied on a qualitative approach based on a comparative case study analysis involving five large multinational companies with headquarters, or branches, in the UK.
Results highlight the importance for CSCRM to shift the viewpoint from the traditional focus on companies’ internal information technology (IT) infrastructure, able to “firewall themselves” only, to the whole supply chain with a cross-functional approach; initiatives for CSCRM are mainly adopted to “respond” and “recover” without a well-rounded approach to supply chain resilience for a long-term capacity to adapt to changes according to an evolutionary approach. Initiatives are adopted at a firm/dyadic level, and a network perspective is missing.
This paper extends the current theory on cyber and information risks in supply chains, as a combination of supply chain risk management and resilience, and information risk management. It provides an analysis and classification of cyber and information risks, sources of risks and initiatives to managing them according to a supply chain perspective, along with an investigation of their adoption across the supply chain. It also studies how the concept of resilience has been deployed in the CSCRM process by companies. By laying the first empirical foundations of the subject, this study stimulates further research on the challenges and drivers of initiatives and coordination mechanisms for CSCRM at a supply chain network level.
Results invite companies to break the “silos” of their activities in CSCRM, embracing the whole supply chain network for better resilience. The adoption of IT security initiatives should be combined with organisational ones and extended beyond the dyad. Where applicable, initiatives should be bi-directional to involve supply chain partners, remove the typical isolation in the CSCRM process and leverage the value of information. Decisions on investments in CSCRM should involve also supply chain managers according to a holistic approach.
A supply chain perspective in the existing scientific contributions is missing in the management of cyber and information risk. This is one of the first empirical studies dealing with this interdisciplinary subject, focusing on risks that are now very high in the companies’ agenda, but still overlooked. It contributes to theory on information risk because it addresses cyber and information risks in massively connected supply chains through a holistic approach that includes technology, people and processes at an extended level that goes beyond the dyad.