Third-Party Vendor Risk Management & 4 Ways to Reduce a Breach

managed IT Services

Most companies in today's economy rely heavily on third-party vendors to help support their business model. 

Outsourcing to a third-party vendor can save you money and time, depending on who you partner with. On the downside, they also typically have access to your sensitive data, which, if not properly vetted, can be a considerable risk. We live in such an interconnected world that a breach of one business can lead to the violation of hundreds or thousands of others, including you.


Usherwood (a managed IT company) works with many clients to keep their network secure. We believe it is essential that all follow the best cybersecurity practices to keep their networks secure. 


One of those best practices includes being safe when partnering with third-party vendors. This includes even partnering with managed IT companies like Usherwood. It is essential to partner with a third party that you can trust with your information. 


In this article, you are going to learn how you can avoid partnering with a vendor that could put your business at risk of a security breach. 


4 ways to reduce your chances of a third-party breach

Some examples of third-party vendors you may do business with include suppliers, manufacturers, service providers, business partners, affiliates, brokers, distributors, resellers, and agents. 

When choosing to work with one of these vendors it is important to ensure you make a safe decision. Although you can’t eliminate risk, we hope that this will help you be more thoughtful when partnering with a vendor to reduce any threats to your business.

  1. Thoroughly evaluate the vendor before partnering

    When choosing between third-party vendors, it is essential to make sure that they know their expectations when working with you and that you know theirs. Think about it like this: you would not give some random person the keys to your house? (Hopefully, your answer to that was no). You would make sure they are trustworthy first.

    It’s the same concept with your vendor. They will have access to a great deal of your sensitive information and maybe even your client's sensitive information. For that reason, you want to ensure that any vendors that you partner with have reliable security measures in place to keep your data safe. 

    If you are unsure of the most critical cybersecurity tools that your business and any business you work with should have in place, check out this article: The Best Cybersecurity Tools to Protect Your Business From Cyber Attacks.

  2. Keep a list of all the vendors you are using

    Keeping an active list of vendors is very important. With a list of your vendors, you know how many external partners may have access to your sensitive information. You should also keep track of what information specifically each vendor that you work with has access to. 

    If you realize they have unnecessary access to data that is not necessary for them to do their job then those access points should be closed immediately. You can also keep track of your vendor's risk assessments. If their vulnerabilities continue to rise each year this could be a sign to look for a new vendor.  

  3. Continuously monitor your vendors for any new security risks

    Although you may look into the security measures of a vendor when you first partner with them, security risks are constantly changing, and new ones arise quickly. By regularly performing audits and penetration tests on your network, you can track vulnerabilities both on your end and with your vendors. 

    This is a more proactive strategy that can help you to recognize a flaw early on and get it secured. Also, check to see if your vendor is receiving risk assessments and penetration tests. If they are not assessing their IT environment, this means they could have many vulnerabilities and potential threats that are going undetected. This could cause your vendor to undergo a cyber-attack and put your company's sensitive information at risk. 
  4. Establish a Least Privilege Policy

    A least privilege policy will only allow your vendor to receive privileges needed to complete their task. They will only receive access to information that will enable them to achieve their role, and anything outside of that will not be given. 

    This policy is a great way to ensure your sensitive information isn't in the hands of a vendor who may not have the same security standards as you. Third-party breaches take place at an alarming rate every year. An eSentire Survey found that 44% of all firms have experienced a third-party breach. 

    This is why it is essential to be aware of the risks involved and form a vendor risk management strategy to prepare for future situations. A great way to do this is to communicate with your vendor and ensure they only have access to the information necessary to have a successful partnership. 


Why is this important? 

There have been increasing amounts of ransomware attacks on businesses this past year. One business that underwent a ransomware attack is Kaseya VSA (a remote monitoring and management, endpoint management, and network monitoring solution). Their breach not only affected them but also had the potential to affect 1,500 other global businesses. 


This goes to show the importance of choosing a vendor that you can trust with your company's data. If your vendor is breached, there is a good chance that the hacker has obtained your company's information. This information could be potentially leaked or used against your company to demand money in exchange. 


So Is your business following cyber security best practices?

Now after reading this article, all your vendors should be properly vetted to make sure they are using the right tools and processes to keep mitigate the risks of a cyber attack. So now the only thing more important than that is, are you?  


It is extremely important that you are choosing vendors that will keep your information secure, but it is even more critical that you yourself are following best practices to keep your business safe from cyber-attacks. 


Cyber-attacks have repercussions such as lost or stolen information, financial loss, and a scathed reputation. All of these things can have a very negative effect on your business's success. 


There are a number of cybersecurity tools and processes that your business should have in place. Usherwood works with many businesses to implement cybersecurity tools and train them on new threats and how to avoid them. If you’re interested in learning some of the best tools to reduce the risk of cyber attacks on your business, check out this article: The Best Cybersecurity Tools to Keep your Business Safe from Cyber Attacks.