How to Manage Third-Party Cyber Risks

The risk to business data encompasses a larger playing field than we originally thought. We don’t like to be the bearer of bad news, but if you’re not involving your third-party vendors in your cyber security strategy, the threat exposure to your business can be larger than originally believed.

How to Manage Third-Party Cyber Risks

Third parties are defined as external vendors or suppliers that have granted access to business systems. These individuals can include external contractors, freelancers and suppliers. For the most part, employees and third-party vendors are innocent of malicious activity. Instead, they’re often subject to pure negligence that includes clicking on phishing email links and letting viruses into the business’s internal infrastructure.

READ ALSO: 4 Ways to Prepare Employees for Phishing Campaigns.

These episodes can wreak havoc on your business technologies. But hope still exists, because simply managing and controlling who has access to your data can have a positive impact. It’s time to limit internal and external parties “all-access pass” to your valuable systems and data.

Is it really important? Yes, it is. In a recent survey by Deloitte, 170 large enterprises were surveyed. In the survey, Deloitte found that 28% of respondents faced major business disruption due to third-party breaches. Many times the businesses suffered monetary and irreversible damages as a result. A further 87% surveyed admitted to third-party negative incidents in the past few years.

Read these following examples to see what a potential third-party threat looks like.

  • Important security codes and passwords are given to a third-party vendor to streamline process in a sales project. The theft of business passwords is breached when the third-party vendor gives out the information to their colleague that isn’t part of the project.
  • The major warehouse retailer, Home Depot, experienced a third-party breach in 2014 when credit card information was stolen due to stolen credentials from a third-party vendor.

It’s clear. Businesses don’t always have the appropriate structure and processes to reduce risks from third-party vendors. Many times businesses are subject to security attacks and data breaches, because the main business fails to regulate who has access to important corporate information. Limit your risk of third-party vendors by addressing these 5 tips.

1. Understand that third-parties do offer risk. The first step in forming an effective security strategy is analyzing the threat potential. Third-party threats are often overlooked, and outside malicious threats usually take first place on the priority list. Realize that third-parties have threat potential.

2. Analyze your third-party vendor. This means to do your due diligence. An important and critical part of this analysis is to perform a vendor risk assessment. Does the new vendor represent a potential risk? Use the risk assessment to identify, mitigate, and monitor security risks that are inline with your business strategies and objectives.

3. Proactively plan for third-party data comprises. Once you acknowledge the risk, the next step to form a formidable strategy to stop malicious activity in it’s tracks. In the planning process, it’s better to be proactive, than reactive. By being proactive, you can register and confront threats in real-time and with little time loss.

4. Create warning triggers to safeguard your data. It’s not in your best interests to sit at the computer all day and wait for security warning triggers. It’s much more time-friendly and productive to create a third-party monitoring system. This system should define a comprehensive set of security safeguards to protect certain data and catalogue verifiable evidence on security risk potential.

5. Factor in people-related risk. It might sound like a new and unfamiliar idea, but the people risk is a high risk. Often businesses are focused on the operations and the externals risks that can enter the security infrastructure. These traditional plans have no regards for the people risk, and how simple negligence can trigger a faulty cyber breach. Third-party vendors offer an additional people risk factor on top of your current employees.

The potential for third-party cyber risks is high. It’s time to incorporate this risk factor into your business’s cyber security strategy, and utilize these tips to address the situation.

Megan Thudium

Megan Thudium

Megan Thudium is a Berlin-based writer with a passion for curating actionable and enlightening content for business leaders. A seasoned author, her latest works encompass topics in travel, business and information security. Follow Megan on twitter @megan_thudium.

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