When you're running a business, it's important to think about cybersecurity from every angle. So on top of ensuring that your internal systems are secured, you also need to consider the security posture of all of your third-party vendors. This is because if one of your third-party vendors’ systems is compromised, cybercriminals may also gain access to your sensitive data.
The recent Uber security breach, for instance, happened because a hacker got ahold of an Uber contractor's corporate password. The hacker then used the stolen credential to access Uber's internal systems, including its Slack messages, dashboard for reporting bugs and vulnerabilities, and their invoicing tool.
To protect your company, you need to ensure that your third-party vendors have strong security measures in place and that their systems are regularly tested for vulnerabilities. You should also follow tried-and-tested security practices for managing third-party vendors.
What Third-Party Vendor Management Security Best Practices Should You Implement?
By following these five best practices, you can ensure your third-party vendors' security and mitigate associated risks:
1. Vet all current and potential vendors
A data breach can result from just a single overlooked gap in your network. So even if your infrastructure is secure but your vendors' are not, you’re in for a potential data leak.
It’s therefore critical to select your vendors wisely. Make sure to only work with vendors that have established cybersecurity policies and procedures so you can be certain your company is safe and compliant with all relevant regulatory requirements.
Also, review what data all your vendors have access to, and double-check that they're using a secure remote access tool that’s under your company's control. If they’re not, it's likely that they have too much access to your network, which can lead to potential breaches.
2. Have strong third-party vendor access reporting, auditing, and monitoring processes
Log, monitor, and regularly report third-party vendor access to your network, ideally through a platform built specifically for managing third-party interactions. In addition, audit all changes to your system that were done by third-party vendors. You should be able to track what and when changes were made and by whom. Doing these will help you detect any unusual or unauthorized activity so you can take steps to contain the incident right away.
3. Document security requirements
Create a contract that clearly indicates what types of security measures the vendor is responsible for and what will happen if they fail to meet these requirements. For instance, the contract could stipulate that the vendor must provide two-factor authentication for all user accounts and/or encrypt all data at rest or in transit. If they fall short of these requirements, you should be able to end the contract immediately without having to pay fines.
4. Implement zero trust
Zero trust is a security model that views all users as external threats, regardless of their location or device. This means that even if a vendor has been vetted and their identity has been previously verified, they still need to go through the standard authentication process for each access attempt.
Following the principles of zero trust, you can also set specific time limits on third-party access to your network, effectively locking out inactive accounts and reducing the likelihood of security breaches.
5. Conduct regular audits of your vendors’ systems
Typically, an annual audit is enough, but you may need to conduct more whenever there are changes to a vendor’s IT infrastructure.
The audit should include a review of the vendor's security controls and their compliance with your security requirements, as well as overall compliance with federal and state laws. This will help ensure that they are following best practices and keeping your data safe.
Charles IT Can Help Mitigate Third-Party Vendor Risks
Having even one weak link in your network could result in a security catastrophe. Third-party vendor data breaches, in particular, could lead to severe financial repercussions, regulatory issues, and damage to your organization's reputation.
This is where Charles IT can help.
Charles IT is one of the most trusted business technology partners in Connecticut. We offer a trove of IT services, including compliance services that encompass vendor management. By outsourcing critical cybersecurity functions to us, you can be sure that your data is safe and your network is secure from all points at all times.