In today’s increasingly connected environment, businesses rely more on third-party vendors than ever before to help them bring their ideas to life. Those vendors include suppliers, affiliates, contractors and service providers. But like handing a house key out to every friend, the more third-party vendors that you’re connected to, the greater the risk of a security breach. And while third-party data breaches are not always born from maliciousness, mere negligence can still lead to devastating consequences for your company and its partners.
How Third-Party Organizations Bring Cyber Security Risks
Every vendor in an organization’s orbit forms another link in the supply chain, and like any important chain, one faulty link can cause a complete breakdown in how it functions. Third-party vendors can play a vital role in exposing your organization to new/additional cybersecurity risks.
Addressing Risks in Your Organization
To properly address third-party risk, organizations need to focus on three key tactics.
Evaluating risk: Whether your supply chain is three or three hundred links long, an important first step in addressing risk is to evaluate your vendors and rank them based on the potential risk they can introduce to your organization. Factors that determine risk levels can include potential negative impact and importance to your daily operations, location, security posture and assessments completed. Be sure to take a close look at any vendors or organizations who have access to your infrastructure or confidential data – these can hold critical risks.
Create a risk policy: After ranking your vendors in terms of risk, create security policies to outline how you will review third-parties, proper risk thresholds and how you will address risk. By creating these policies, you can help your organization determine acceptable (and unacceptable) levels of risk in your vendors, as well as an action plan to pursue if a third-party vendor will not address any identified security concerns.
Repeat regularly: A snapshot or moment-in-time look at the security and risk exposure in your supply chain won’t provide you the big picture, which is why it’s important to continually monitor your third-party vendor relationships including new and existing vendors, as well as the periodically reevaluate for new potential risks.
How You Can Protect Yourself
Thankfully, our experienced assessors at A-LIGN have the knowledge and skills to help you strengthen your supply chain and mitigate outside risk. Below are just a few of the services that we offer our clients to strengthen their vendor risk assessment programs
SOC 2 Examination: A SOC 2 examination allows your organization to understand its vendors’ security, confidentiality, availability, processing integrity and privacy. The report can provide a more robust vantage point for organizations beyond what they can achieve through a security questionnaire.
Third-Party Risk Management: Detect and address risks before they become an issue and build a plan that enhances your stability. During our vendor management reviews, A-LIGN will identify all relevant vendors that introduce risk exposure to your company and will rank them based on the potential risk they pose to your organization. Based on the risk ranking, we’ll determine the level of due diligence that should be performed for each vendor and conduct the vendor management reviews for your organization.
Ready to strengthen your supply chain and defend against outside threats? Contact A-LIGN at 1-888-702-5446 to speak with one of our cybersecurity and compliance professionals.