In the modern business landscape, delivering products and services requires a network of partners and suppliers who will inevitably receive and handle sensitive information. Unfortunately, this increased reliance on third-party operators has led to an increased amount of breaches that originate from said third parties.
During this first week of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, in which we are focusing on the overall theme of “If You Connect It, Protect It”, we wanted to focus on ways you can protect your organization as you continue to connect with third parties. It is important to reduce your overall risk so that you can continue to grow your business with your network of partners and suppliers in a safe and efficient manner.
Third-Party Risk Mitigation with Zero Trust Network Access, or ZTNA
There are many ways to mitigate risks that emerge from connections with third parties. Earlier this week, our Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder Dan Thormodsgaard talked about Zero Trust Network Access, or ZTNA, and the process of moving access controls away from being more IP-based to more application- and identity-based controls.
Later on in the video below, he also talks about how ZTNA can specifically tighten up access for third parties to reduce the risk of potential breaches by limiting what information third parties can have access to using these updated access controls.
There are also defined Third-Party Risk Management programs that can help you continuously assess the possible risks from partners you are in operation with so that you can work to remediate any potential issues before they become a bigger problem for your organization in the long run.
What better way to talk about best practices for partner operations than by focusing on great information from our own partner Prevalent and their “Six Steps to Complete Third-Party Risk Management”?
Six Steps to Complete Third-Party Risk Management
Step 1: Define/Build/Optimize – Basic Program Decisions
It’s important that you bring in experts to advise you during this step so that you can create solid foundational guidelines before you properly start your third-party risk program. The goal at this point is to establish which vendors need to send and receive what information, as well as how you will send and receive said information.
Step 2: Monitor for Vendor Cyber and Business Risks
This second step is critical to get an understanding of the risks your partners pose to your overall business and how it can affect your operations. It is important that you analyze both cyber and overall business risks.
Step 3: Collect Evidence and Perform Due Diligence
In this step, you will take action on collecting evidence and perform due diligence reviews. Depending on the make-up of your organization, you will need to decide if this is a process you will do yourself, share the responsibility with other vendors, or completely outsource the collection and analysis of evidence to a TPRM vendor, audit firm, or systems integrator.
Step 4: Analyze and Score Results
Here at the halfway point, you will have completed, and potentially even validated your collected evidence. You will now need to analyze and score all evidence so that you can prioritize risk migration activity.
Step 5: Remediate Findings
After collection and analyzation, you will need to now remediate the findings from your collection and analyzation of evidence. Vendors defined in step one that have greater criticality to the business or higher risk levels will need to be prioritized.
Step 6: Report to Internal and External Stakeholders
With a well-established third-party risk management program, you can organize your reporting process to avoid being bogged down by complex and time-consuming compliance reporting. Many partners, like Fishtech Group, can help you set up reporting for common regulations and industry frameworks to make sure you are reporting your findings efficiently and accurately.
Here’s a video of our own Michelle Thacker, Director of Cyber Risk and Compliance, talking about how Fishtech Group can help streamline your approach to reporting.
Benefits of TPRM
There are many benefits to third-party risk management in relation to compliance, but as you can see in the steps above, you are also establishing a rich repository of information that can help you identify risk areas in your organization, and help remediate them early, especially when problem areas may be critical to your overall operations.
Any third-party partner that is connected to your organizational activities in this era of mass information, needs to be assessed and protections need to be put in place to avoid opportunities for breaches to occur due to larger attack surface areas with your vendors and partners.
During Cybersecurity Awareness Month, take an opportunity to step back and think of any areas you may be vulnerable in your digital operations, including the often-overlooked capacity for breach through third-parties, among other vulnerabilities within your internal operations. The general guideline to focus on during this first week is “If You Connect It, Protect It”.
If you’d like a more detailed approach on the Six Steps to Complete Third-Party Risk Management, you can view the Prevalent white paper here.
If you’d like to talk to one of our experts about third-party risk management, or any other areas of cybersecurity, fill out the form below. Stay tuned to our blog all month long as we continue to focus on various areas of cybersecurity to help you #BeCyberSmart.