Third Parties Pose Serious Cyber Security Risk to Enterprises
At times, it becomes imperative for businesses to provide third parties access to their networks and data; however, doing so comes with an opportunity cost, i.e. cyber security risk. Let’s suppose you gave your vendor access to your critical business data. What if the vendor gets hacked?
A serious cyber attack on a third-party can have dire consequences for your business. First, you will lose critical, digitally stored data. Secondly, the incident will get much of the media attention, which can be terrible for your organization’s reputation. Lawsuits, increase in insurance costs, business downtime, wide-spreading monetary loss, regulatory penalties, and even bankruptcy may follow suit.
Remember the Target cyber attack incident from 2013? Hackers exposed more than 40 million payment card information of people who shopped at Target. Investigations revealed that the data was stolen from a third-party vendor.
According to one study, 76 percent of data breaches resulted from third-party security deficiencies that cyber criminals found and exploited. What is more astonishing is that in majority cases, the victim organizations didn’t even notice that a third-party’s security loophole was exploited.
If you want to know how to mitigate third-party security breaches, here are some tips for you to alleviate third party-security risks.
Tips to Decrease Third-Party Cyber Security Risks
Put Multiple Internal Cyber Security Layers in Place
A reliable method to secure your business from cyber security risks emanating from third-party vendors is to start from within your organization. Ratify a multi-layered cyber security policy that protects your entire organization, including all endpoints, data, information, systems, cloud storage, networks, and applications.
For example, you can use data encryption and multi-factor authentication procedures for data and network requests for your vendors. The more layers of security and controls you have in place for third parties, the better. Don’t forget to perform patch management and software updates the moment they are rolled out. Additionally, you can educate and train your employees and vendors in cyber security best practices.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
The old adage that says, “Prevention is better than cure” is totally relevant when it comes to third-party cyber security risks. You should constantly remind your employees, vendors, and customers about security risks and emphasize on why prevention is important.
Also, be sure to create awareness about cyber security among the executives of your organization and the top management of third parties associated with you, including CEOs, CFOs, and CMOs. They need an impetus to educate their employees and constantly emphasize on prevention within their organizations.
Most top management executives do not invest their time and resources in cyber security; however, when a breach occurs, they do everything to stop it or recover from the damages. Unfortunately, most organizations realize only at the eleventh hour that it’s too late. Subsequently, they are often found pouring money into fixing damages. Remember, is always wise to be proactive in cyber security.
Third-Party Vendor Assessment
Even your most reliable and trusted vendor can be a security threat to your organization if it does not follow cyber security best practices. You may have vendors who require access to your network and those who need access to both your network and certain data on your systems.
In order to alleviate third party cyber security risks, you must be sure to perform third-party cyber security assessments on a regular basis. Start with access and craft a ‘least privilege policy.’ This will boost your security by determining who can do what on your network and data.
Regular review of your vendors will give you a peace of mind and save your enterprise from undue security situations. Make sure to put a limit on temporary access because it can increase your susceptibility. Assess the regulatory, industry, and organizational compliance of your third party stakeholders before commencing business with them.
Establish Cyber Security SLAs With Third Parties
Establishing a service-level agreement (SLA) with a vendor can play a critical role in elevating its cyber security strategy. Ideally, the SLA should make it mandatory for your third-party vendors to have cyber security policies and comply with regulatory and industry standards at the least.
Also, the SLA should provide you the right to perform an audit or assessment of the vendor’s cyber security practices and compliance with the practices and policy originally agreed upon. Your SLAs with your partner organizations should normally cover network security, data security, cloud security, information security, security breach reporting, risk analysis, and compliance assessment wherever applicable.
The cyber security risk resulting from third parties is so huge to be overlooked. The tips provided above covers only the most important factors. You need to get started with these tips at least. Remember, cyber criminals are always busy attempting to intrude into your systems and network to steal your critical business information. You can prevent any potentially damaging situation by putting together a third party cyber security plan and implementing the plan.