Strategies for effective third-party risk management

RX How To Manage Vendor Cyber Risks Effectively RiskXchange The leader in Third-Party Cyber Risk Management

As corporate and government stakeholders realise the value of vendor security, your cybersecurity team has to devise a more effective third party risk management programme.

With organisations working with hundreds of third-party and fourth-party vendors, enforcing effective vendor risk management strategies is critical for the ongoing stability of your business.  

That said, managing vendor risk is far more complex than using a single software or platform; it’s an interconnected network of policies, technology, and employee awareness. 

Adopting this kind of vendor security system can prevent vendor-based cyberattacks that account for 60% of all data breaches. Also, it would deliver cost savings and see you ensure compliance with increasingly stringent cybersecurity standards. 

The question then becomes what can you do to identify and manage vendor cyber risks effectively?

Here are some proven ways which you can follow to ensure your network is protected against supply chain attacks.

Follow the principle of least privilege 

In many organisations, third-party and fourth-party vendors are given access to critical data despite it not being a necessity to perform due diligence to their contractual obligations.

This kind of unfettered access to your valuable data generates a host of security problems and makes managing your attack surface more complicated, making your network more vulnerable to supply chain attacks.

Fortunately, you can address this issue by restricting third-party access to your data. 

Even when you want to grant network access to your vendors, do so by following the least privilege principle, which only grants data access to devices, applications, processes, and systems that are necessary for vendors to meet their contractual requirements.

The main benefit of adopting the least privilege principle in your cybersecurity posture is that, even in the case of a supply chain attack, cybercriminals will only have limited network access and won’t be able to move laterally across your network.

Furthermore, a role-based access control system can help monitor network access and delineate access to different users and systems based on need.

Conduct risk assessments on your vendors as a part of effective third party risk management

As your business may work with multiple vendors simultaneously, devising systems to assess your third-party vendors’ cybersecurity infrastructure is critical for the security and stability of your operations. 

Here, conducting a vendor risk assessment before onboarding new vendors can help you determine the security risk they pose to your network. The audit should account for how effective third party risk management practicies are executed by the vendors and which cybersecurity policies are implemented across their organisation.

This helps you flag vendors that may not conform to your cybersecurity requirements.

You can further optimise the vendor risk assessment process by leveraging security risk rating solutions, which can help get a deep understanding of the cybersecurity posture of your vendors.

Maintain continuous monitoring of your attack surface

Given the challenges facing modern organisations, businesses should shift to continuous real-time monitoring of their attack surface, especially their vendor network. This allows you to have a much better understanding of what needs to be done to ensure top-notch security at all times.

Continuous monitoring can survey all elements of your network 24/7 for vulnerabilities, allowing your security team to quickly identify vendor risks and take action to manage them. 

What’s more is that with advancements in technology and software development, you can leverage state-of-the-art continuous monitoring platforms to fully automate this process, allowing for shorter detection times and better response times. 

Furthermore, ongoing monitoring platforms provide far better insight into the cybersecurity operations of your vendors, allowing for the formulation of effective vendor risk management strategies that enhance your cybersecurity posture.

Beware of vendor cyber risks to ensure the integrity of your network

Today, businesses have become home to vast and complex vendor networks, effectively increasing the number of entry points cyber criminals can exploit to infiltrate your systems.

To effectively manage your vendor network, you will need to devise new cybersecurity protocols, invest in new technology, and build a culture of cybersecurity. 

With supply chain attacks expected to take a significant toll on business profitability and stability, avoiding vendor cyber risks would depend on how far you have incorporated automated, proactive methods into your third-party risk management framework.

Adopting these advanced measures can ensure the integrity of your network and make it easier to meet legal and internal requirements related to cybersecurity.