As a business owner, you know that cyber security is crucial to the success of your organization. But did you know that the risks posed by third-party vendors can be equally serious? In fact, they are often more dangerous than external threats because they are harder to detect and prevent.
Understand Which Systems and Data Are Vulnerable
You should also be aware of the systems and data you have, where they’re stored and how they’re accessed. It’s important to know if there are any third parties who have access to your sensitive information or services that store sensitive information. Once you understand which systems and data are vulnerable, you can take steps to ensure their protection.
Assess Your Third-Party Security Risk Profile
To assess the security risk profile of your third parties, you first need to identify which systems and data are most vulnerable. Next, you’ll want to consider how many third parties have access to that data and what kind of controls they have in place.
Finally, consider the probability of a breach occurring–and if one does occur, how severe it would be for your business.
Create a Third-Party Security Policy
As you’re undoubtedly aware, third parties can be a huge risk to the security of your organization. To mitigate those risks and ensure that they are managed properly, it’s important to create a third-party security policy. This document should include:
- A description of what constitutes a “third party” in your business context. For example, if you’re an ecommerce shop with dozens of vendors providing products or services, then each one would be considered an external party–but if all those vendors were located within the same building as your company headquarters (and thus had access to its internal network), then only those specific vendors would qualify as external parties.
- A list of all current third parties and their roles within the organization (e.g., vendor, vendor partner). This includes contracts signed with these companies; if necessary for compliance purposes such as PCI DSS certification audits or HIPAA audits (for medical practices), these documents should also be included here as attachments so that they can easily be referenced later on when needed during audits/inspections by regulators like state attorneys general offices investigating potential violations under laws such as New York’s Data Security Law (DSA).
Monitor Your Third-Party Security Risk Profile
In order to ensure your third-party security risk profile is under control, you need to understand the risks associated with each type of third party. This includes both internal and external parties.
In addition, it’s important that you monitor how these risks change over time as your business grows or changes direction.
When it comes to third-party security, you need to remain vigilant.
The first step to ensuring third-party security is to determine whether you have a problem. If you do, the next step is to take action.
To understand whether your business has a third-party risk issue, ask yourself these questions:
- Is my company using third parties?
- What kinds of data and assets do they handle?
- How much control do I have over them?
If the answer to any one of these questions is “yes,” then it’s likely that your organization has some form of third party risk facing it–and that means that at least some level of oversight or management should be put in place.
As a business owner, you have a responsibility to ensure that your company is protected from any potential threats. Third-party security is one area where you can take action today by following these four steps: 1) understand which systems and data are vulnerable; 2) assess your third-party security risk profile; 3) create a third-party security policy; and 4) monitor your third- party security risk profile.