Building a Fortified Wall: Effective Third-Party Risk Management Against Cyber Threats

Gain control of third-party connections by establishing a central repository to track and document access to systems and data.

Building a Fortified Wall: Effective Third-Party Risk Management Against Cyber Threats

In today’s interconnected business environment, companies regularly rely on third parties for critical business functions like supply chain, IT services, and more. While these relationships can provide efficiency and expertise, they also introduce new cybersecurity risks that must be managed. More than 53% of businesses worldwide have suffered at least one cyber attack in the past 12 months and one in five firms attacked said it was enough to threaten the viability of the business. Recent high-profile breaches like the SolarWinds attack have highlighted the dangers of supply chain compromises. Implementing a comprehensive third party risk management program is essential for security. In this post, we’ll explore key strategies and best practices organizations can use to defend against cyber threats from third party relationships.

Know Your Third Parties and Their Access

The first step is gaining visibility into all of your third party connections. Develop a central repository to track all vendor, supplier, and partner relationships. Document what access each third party has to your systems and data. Identify third parties that have privileged access or handle sensitive data. Prioritize higher risk relationships for additional security review. Maintain an inventory of all third party links so you know who needs to be secured. It has been predicted that in 2024 advancements in AI will fuel a surge in cybercrimes. In addition to text generation, cybercriminals will now have text-to-video or other multi-media creation tools to further their nefarious designs.

Perform Thorough Due Diligence on New Vendors

When bringing on a new third party, conduct in-depth due diligence into their cybersecurity posture. Send third parties a standardized questionnaire covering their security policies, controls, incident response plans, and more. Require them to provide documentation like audits and certifications. Review their physical and application security, encryption methods, employee screening, and other defense capabilities. Conduct interviews with their security staff and leadership. The goal is to confirm the third party takes security as seriously as your organization before establishing connectivity.

Include Security in Contracts and Agreements

Your contracts and agreements with third parties provide leverage for requiring strong security. Include provisions that make them contractually obligated to maintain specific security standards, controls, and practices. Define their responsibilities for security monitoring, vulnerability management, and breach notification. Institute the right to audit their security measures. Specify your security requirements in detail so expectations are clear. Update legacy contracts to reflect modern cyber threats. Enforce security requirements by making them a condition of ongoing business.

Third party risk management is essential in modern interconnected business ecosystems. Businesses can no longer rely solely on their own security – all external connections must be assessed and managed. Implementing continuous due diligence, least privilege access, monitoring, detection, and incident response plans can help limit your exposure.
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