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The Importance of Supply Chain Cyber Security in the Energy Sector and Opportunities to Use AI to Help Manage the Risk

Article, Industry Insights

The Importance of Supply Chain Cyber Security in the Energy Sector and Opportunities to Use AI to Help Manage the Risk

Guest Blog: Oliver Church, Orpheus Cyber

The energy sector continues to be the focus of significant and increasing threats to supply chains from cyber attack. This is due both to its extensive and interconnected supply chains and adversaries seeking to benefit from the potential impact caused by such attacks to critical national infrastructure.

This blog aims to dissect the critical importance of supply chain cyber security within the energy sector and outline the promising avenues offered by cyber threat intelligence and artificial intelligence (AI) in managing this high impact risk effectively.

Understanding Supply Chain Vulnerabilities

The energy sector’s supply chains are intricate webs of interconnected entities. While these networks facilitate the flow of goods and services, they also introduce numerous entry points for cyber attackers. Adversaries, ranging from nation-states to sophisticated cybercriminal organisations, exploit vulnerabilities within these supply chains to launch targeted attacks aimed at disrupting operations, stealing sensitive data, or causing financial harm.

The Escalating Threat Landscape

The significant increase in cyber attacks against supply chains is driven by threats from a wide range of adversaries with diverse objectives – these range from Nation States such as North Korea, China, Iran and Russia to Organised Criminal Gangs and opportunistic hackers. The impact is often severe because suppliers increasingly have access to client systems, hold client sensitive data and/or the compromise of key suppliers will cause severe business continuity problems.

It is because of the reliance we all have on supply chains that hackers of all types are focussed on capitalising on that vulnerability. This is compounded by the majority of suppliers having worse cyber security than the clients they serve – therefore offering an attractive opportunity to adversaries that are constantly developing their cyber attack capabilities.

Across critical national infrastructure sectors the impact has been pronounced, and in particular in the energy sector globally. Cyber-enabled adversaries exploit the criticality of service provision and scale of impact caused by disruption by targeting energy sector companies for financial, geo-political and allegedly righteous activist goals.

Energy sector companies have been spending large amounts of time and money improving their own cyber security and are often harder targets than their suppliers. Cyber attacks against Energy Sector supply chains is therefore the current and future frontier of cyber risk.

Recognising the gravity of supply chain cyber risks, regulatory bodies and industry organisations have developed robust frameworks and standards to guide organisations in mitigating these threats. These guidelines emphasise the importance of risk assessment, vendor management, incident response planning, and continuous monitoring. By adhering to these frameworks, organisations can bolster their cyber resilience and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

Harnessing the Power of Artificial Intelligence

There are many challenges to establishing an effective supply chain cyber risk management programme and when starting on the journey it is usually best to follow the approach of ‘Think big, start small and prove the process’. However, there are also significant opportunities to achieve measurable and fast improvement by leveraging technology and risk management principles to do so.
Starting with a good understanding of the threats to supply chain at the strategic, operational and tactical levels helps to develop and adjust your approach depending on changing external factors and your own unique circumstances. Intelligence can also help at the tactical, digital level by understanding current threat actor attack methods and monitoring your supply chain for likely weaknesses accordingly.

Due to the insecure nature of the internet it is possible for cyber adversaries to scan suppliers’ attack surfaces and identify weaknesses they can easily exploit. However, the same opportunity is open to organisations to adapt an attacker perspective and develop an active relationship of trust and communication with suppliers.

One of the most promising tools in the arsenal of cyber defenders is artificial intelligence. AI-powered solutions offer the ability to analyse vast amounts of data, detect patterns, and identify anomalies indicative of potential cyber threats. By leveraging AI-driven insights, organisations can proactively identify and mitigate cyber risks, thereby enhancing the resilience of their supply chains.

For example, when AI is combined with the correct data it can be used to correctly predict which technical vulnerabilities suppliers have present online will be exploited in the future. This means that the appropriate use of threat intelligence and AI can enable organisations and supply chains to get ahead of cyber adversaries. This preventative approach to supply chain cyber risk management is a new and exciting area which is showing huge potential.


Cyber risks to Energy Sector supply chains are significant and rising, and this is likely to continue. Suppliers and their clients need to work together and leverage the opportunities provided by a risk-based approach – starting with understanding the changing threat landscape. It then becomes possible to deploy sophisticated technologies such as AI to enhance the solution. Doing so will have a measurable effect on reducing the frequency and impact of this serious risk.

Achilles partners with Orpheus to provide superior levels of supply chain cyber protection. Learn more about how our cyber risk rating solutions and AI-powered tools can help strengthen your supply chain cyber security posture here or get in touch to talk to an advisor.

About Orpheus

Orpheus is the only UK-government accredited company providing threat intelligence and cyber risk rating services. Orpheus technologies collect vast volumes of cyber risk data, which we augment by deploying machine learning to predict the likelihood of an attack. Orpheus threat intelligence and cyber risk rating are trusted by major global organisations to help protect their vital assets globally. Outside of Orpheus subscription services, it is also one of a small group of companies accredited to conduct critical national infrastructure testing in the UK and around the world.

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