3rd-Party Cyber Risk Management Tips

You may have the most stringent internal security measures in place, but are your 3rd-party vendors doing the same? You’re only as strong as your weakest link. And cyber criminals are always probing for the easiest way into your organization. Often, it’s through 3rd-party vendors.

Massive data breaches on powerful brands have moved 3rd-party risk assessments into the spotlight—especially as organizations grow their reliance on 3rd-party vendors for a variety of functions.  

No One’s Immune From Vendor Breaches

Many companies look at 3rd-party cybersecurity as an afterthought, which can have devastating consequences.  According to one study, only 18% of respondents said their company assesses the cyber risks of third parties.

Just check out these big-time breaches that were the result of 3rd-party vendor mistakes.  

This isn’t to say you should keep everything in-house. For most large organizations that just isn’t feasible.  It does mean you should ensure your outside vendors are taking the same meticulous security precautions you demand from your internal organization.   

Challenges in 3rd-Party Risk Management

Large organizations are increasingly turning to 3rd-party vendors to take care of sensitive functions including HR, data storage and communication.  But this new dependence on outside vendors can compromise cybersecurity — with a Ponemon survey of 600 organizations finding that half had a vendor cause a data breach.

The proliferation of technology has also increased 3rd-party risks. Ponemon also found that 60% believed that the Internet of Things (IoT) increased 3rd-party risk significantly, and 68% felt the same about cloud migration.  

Compounding these issues is a lack of trust. By one study, a third of respondents said they weren’t sure vendors would let them know if there had been a breach.  

How to Manage 3rd-Party Cyber Risk

To more effectively  manage cyber risk, consider these tips to ensure 3rd-party vendors have your security in mind:  

  1. Perform due diligence:  Assess your security situation. Know where your data is, who can access it and what security measures are in place. Pinpoint areas of greatest risk and address them.
  2. Use a consistent vendor review process. Consolidate vendor management and include security policies in all vendor contracts. Put it in writing to help cover you against a breach or loss.  
  3. Review data security regularly: Annual reviews won’t give you the most accurate assessment of vendor security. You need continuous monitoring to keep vendors on their toes and hold them accountable. Questionnaires can be helpful, but self-reporting can be dubious. To avoid bias, use independent 3rd parties to handle vendor risk assessments.

Tec-Refresh, a partner of Fortinet, has the expertise to support 3rd-party cyber risk management so your organization stays ahead of cyber threats. We’ll help you reduce unmanaged risk and speed up reaction time if there’s a breach.  Contact us to learn more.