5 Strategies for Managing External Technology Vendor Risk

Attackers can compromise a business that is dependent on a vendor’s system by taking advantage of its security weaknesses

Threats to a company’s cyber security come from unexpected quarters, such as the technology providers the company relies on to help it run.

Most businesses depend on third-party providers for essential services such as data storage and management on the cloud, document and file management, conferencing and collaboration tools, payment processing, and employee and customer communication.

Nevertheless, the more they rely on these external sources, the greater the threat becomes because of the integration between the vendor’s systems and the business’s own. Attackers can compromise a business that is dependent on a vendor’s system by taking advantage of its security weaknesses.

The following are five recommendations from cybersecurity professionals to help businesses protect themselves from vendor-based hacks.

1. Implement a stringent vetting procedure before hiring vendors

Clients have limited influence over vendors’ cybersecurity approaches. Conducting thorough due diligence on potential partners is critical to make sure they have safeguards in place.

Conducting reviews and questionnaires with vendors might show how seriously they take security threats. Companies in the IT industry routinely investigate whether or not their suppliers employ “ethical hackers” to test their systems for security flaws.

After an organization has conducted an impartial vendor evaluation, it can hire an outside firm to audit the vendor’s security systems thoroughly. Vendors may feel more comfortable speaking candidly with an impartial assessor than with a partner company within their ecosystem. Therefore, such appraisals can be helpful.

Read A Related Article: 10 Important Questions To Ask When Considering An ITaaS Provider

2. Be specific in vendor agreements about what is expected of them and how the information will be shared

Businesses and their suppliers should negotiate the details of their systems’ interoperability, including access to and exchange of data.

For example, a vendor might need access to internal company data to provide technical support or perform regular office duties like payroll management. For example, a payroll vendor pushing  all that data back into your general ledger so that you can update your financials.” Companies should seek suppliers that encrypt data “at-rest” as well as “in-transit”.

3. Have frequent briefings for directors on vendors’ cybersecurity programs and vulnerabilities by employing internal assessors

Auditors can initially approve and monitor vendors to ensure they follow all necessary security measures.The board requires an overview of the vendor cybersecurity program and wants to ensure that a person is assigned to oversee it.

4. Keep your vendors’ access to sensitive company information tightly restricted

Based on the least-privilege concept, companies should grant vendors access only to the firm systems they need to execute their jobs using two-factor authentication.

Businesses must also automate a process for revoking system access from former employees and vendors – an important step in the exit or termination process. The common practice of manually withdrawing access from former vendors or personnel, only leads to more complexity and therefore, more risk. 

Gating each vendor system that connects to a business’s network, is another simple way of managing external access. This is possible by installing firewalls and other security measures to isolate vendor networks from the rest of the company’s infrastructure.

5. Give the boardroom security oversight and provide power to the top information security officer.

Company politics can be a significant roadblock in establishing a vendor-security program. Cybersecurity is often the purview of the chief information security officer at most companies, but this position only carries a little weight with the company’s top brass.

The suggestions of the chief information security officer are typically underfunded. Cybersecurity involves technology-driven security measures, proactive risk management, and deep subject matter expertise. This could include investing in cybersecurity solutions, security awareness training for staff, or an incident response plan to prevent cyber attacks.

So, when presented with information regarding cybersecurity risks and the cost of mitigating them, top management may make informed judgments about the level of cybersecurity resource investment needed to defend the organization.

More people with security expertise should be given positions on corporate boards. This phenomenon has only recently begun. Just last year, the past year and a half, we’ve heard of many people that can understand the risk language and then put in place a program for each of those risks.

Safeguard Your Business with UDT

The increasing reliance on external sources poses a significant cybersecurity risk. This is due to the integration between the vendor’s systems and the business’s own, which creates vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit to compromise a business. 

Here is how UDTSecure manages the risks associated with third-party vendors and protects businesses from external threats—

  • Develop a customized security plan in collaboration with the business and its vendors to minimize the risk of cyber attacks.
  • Assemble a team of cybersecurity experts with the latest technology-driven security controls and deep subject matter expertise to ensure that businesses and their vendors are fully protected.
  • Adopt a proactive approach to cybersecurity for monitoring and analyzing potential threats to stay ahead of the curve.

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Get your custom solution in cybersecurity, lifecycle management, digital transformation and managed IT services. Connect with our team today.

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Experiencing a security breach?

Get immediate assistance from our security operations center! Take the following recommended actions NOW while we get on the case:

RECOMMENDED IMMEDIATE NEXT ACTIONS

  1. Determine which systems were impacted and immediately isolate them. Take the network offline at the switch level or physically unplug the systems from the wired or wireless network.
  2. Immediately take backups offline to preserve them. Scan backups with anti-virus and malware tools to ensure they’re not infected
  3. Initiate an immediate password reset on affected user accounts with new passwords that are no less than 14 characters in length. Do this for Senior Management accounts as well.

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