UMD Researchers Formulate Cyber Protection for Supply Chains

UMD Researchers Formulate Cyber Protection for Supply Chains

The supply chain is ground zero for several recent cyber breaches. Hackers, for example, prey on vendors that have remote access to a larger company's global IT systems, software and networks. In the 2013 Target breach, the attacker infiltrated a vulnerable link: a refrigeration system supplier connected to the retailer's IT system. A counter-measure, via a user-ready online portal, has been developed by researchers in the Supply Chain Management Center at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.

The portal is based on a new management science called "cyber supply chain risk management." It combines conventionally-separate disciplines cybersecurity, enterprise risk management and supply chain management. Funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the UMD researchers developed the formula, in part, after surveying 200 different-sized companies in various industries.

"We found that, collectively, the cyber supply chain is fragmented and stovepiped, and companies are ill-prepared to sense and respond to risks in real time," said research professor and center co-director Sandor Boyson, who collaborated on the study and portal design with faculty-colleague/center co-director Thomas Corsi, research fellow Hart Rossman and UMD-Smith CIO Holly Mann. "Just half of our subjects used an executive advisory committee such as a risk board to govern their IT-system risks."

The findings are published as "Cyber supply chain risk management: Revolutionizing the strategic control of critical IT systems" in the peer-reviewed industrial engineering journal Technovation. The researchers leveraged the study into the portal. Companies can log on, cost-free, at http://cyberchain.rhsmith.umd.edu and track developing threats, plus map their IT supply chains and anonymously measure themselves against industry peers and NIST standards.

The benchmarking covers operations and allocating for cyber insurance via separate functions:

A self-evaluation exercise shows a company's structure for cyber protecting the supply chain. For example, users reply to: "To what degree is your CIO and-or IT shop isolated from, or collaborative with, your supply chain specialists who actually procure the hardware and software for your IT system?"
A special formula measures the risk levels of each company asset. The Common Vulnerability Scoring System – standard for analyzing software systems – is adapted to analyze the entire range of assets connected to the cyber supply chain.

Firms can compare corporate disclosures, exposures and vulnerabilities to those of peer companies via an insurance-risk analysis framework provided by The Willis Group. The global insurance broker's database of aggregated SEC-reported cyber attacks -- mandated for public companies – supports this tool.
The portal is scalable. About 150 various-sized companies have completed at least one or more of the aforementioned functions. Fifteen of those firms completed all three assessments and represent industries including high-tech aerospace manufacturing, telecommunication, real estate, and medical and professional services.

“The portal helps individual organizations understand their risk and how they can better manage it. This bolsters the resilience and security posture of the entire ecosystem of the U.S. economy," said Jon Boyens, senior advisor for information security in NIST's computer security division. "While this ecosystem has evolved to provide a set of highly refined, cost-effective, reusable products and services that support the U.S. economy, it has also increased opportunities for adversaries and made it increasingly difficult for organizations to understand their risks."

The study is entering a fifth phase focused on federal agency-private contractor supply chains. The UMD-Smith researchers subsequently will update the portal and train managers of participating agencies and contractors to efficiently and effectively use the separate functions.

Related Articles:
UMD Astronomers to Analyze Surface of Comet as Spacecraft Drops Robotic Probe on It
Dr. Puett’s Research Examines How Exercising Outdoors or Indoors Influences Mental and Physical Wellbeing
Can Diseased Lungs and Positive Thoughts Deter Smoking?
Diversify the Faculty, Transform the University
UMD, NIST Announce Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science
Emerging Disease Could Wipe Out American, European Salamanders
Campus boosts support for Open Access Publishing Fund
UMD Professor Receives $1.9M to Study Cell “Glue” Important in Disease
UMD Alumnus and CEO, Brendan Iribe, purchases liscensing rights to UMD-founded Company
CHSE Researcher Recognized for a Lifetime of Achievement in Counseling Psychology

October 22, 2014


Prev   Next

Current Headlines

UMD Division of Research Announces Summer Tier 1 Awards

Gamma-ray Burst Captured in Unprecedented Detail

New UMD Research Tracks Global IT’s Shift from Cost-Cutting to Revenue-Boosting

UMD Engineers Invent the First Bio-Compatible, Ion Current Battery

Flying Dog Brewery and University of Maryland Partner on Hops Production Initiative

UMD’s “It Takes Just One” Student Team Wins National Competition to Curb Violent Extremism Online

Call for Proposals: UMD-TEC Seed Grant Program

UMD Named a 2017 Best College by MONEY Magazine

News Resources

Return to Newsroom

Search News

Archived News

Events Resources

Events Calendar

Additional Resources

UM Newsdesk

Faculty Experts

Connect

social iconstwitterlinkedinrssYouTube
Division of Research
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742-1541

Email: vpr@umd.edu
© Copyright 2017 University of Maryland

Did You Know

UMD's Discovery District was recently named the nation's top university research park by the Association of University Research Parks.