Cybersecurity that works is extremely complicated, multi-layered and continually monitored. That’s a fact. Third-party risk management tools are a perfect example of the complicated and multi-layered elements that need to be effectively combined with best practices. Also known as third-party risk management solutions, these cyber security solutions help protect your business from cyber breaches, leaks, disruptions and more.
That may sound precisely like regular cyber security, except for the fact that third-party risk management tools protect your company from threats that emanate from any third-party service provider or entity that you do business with.
What Are Third Party Service Providers or Entities?
If you aren’t sure what a third party service provider or entity is, let’s back up a second. Just about every business, whether they’re a small mom and pop store on the corner or a mighty bank, will use third parties to support various core business functions. Examples of such entities that your business may work with include:
- Cloud providers/ Managed security services
- Legal counsel
- Tax firms
- Outside contractors
The Importance of Third Party Risk Management
The reality is it’s pretty much impossible to run a company without using some third parties, such as a payment processor. And you should, as third parties are critical for the success of a business. Without them, every company would be bloated with overhead. Unfortunately, in the age of cybersecurity, working with third parties like cloud storage providers can potentially leave you vulnerable to a cyber attack.
By allowing a third party to help facilitate the day to day operations of your company, you have given them access to your information system. That’s part of the deal. Regrettably, if they have a cyber breach, you are very likely to have one as well without third party management solutions. These third-party risk management tools are designed specifically to insulate, predict, assess and most importantly, protect your company should any of your third-party partners have security issues.
What are Primary Third-Party Risks?
In 2013, Target was the victim of one of the largest third party breaches in history with 101 million shoppers personal information stolen. Target was forced to pay an $18.5 million settlement, the largest ever for a data breach. The cause of that massive breach? According to reports, it was a compromised refrigerator contractor. One careless employee at Fazio Mechanical fell prey to a phishing email. A classic example of a third party’s mistake costing their partner. Before long the hackers had access to Target’s massive database.
While this security breach did occur nine years ago, third-party security breaches appear to be on the rise. According to a survey by the Ponemon Institute, some 75% of IT professionals acknowledged that the risk of a breach from a third party is serious and increasing. In an even more alarming report, Soha Systems found that 63% of all data breaches can be linked either directly or indirectly to third-party access.
As mentioned, cybersecurity is incredibly complicated. That’s because hackers are extremely resourceful. If your information security system rebuffs them, they simply find your third party vendors. Thanks to the internet, finding the third party providers or contractors that you work with isn’t very difficult. Once they learn who you work with, they can worm their way in slowly. When hackers find their way through third parties, it is much more difficult to detect their presence. In Target’s case, hackers were in their system for days before anyone knew.
Assessing Third Party Risk
To protect yourself, even before you utilize third-party risk management tools, you must undergo a risk assessment. All businesses have security risks, there’s no way around it. The key is to understand the type of vulnerabilities you face and how to best manage them. When undergoing a risk assessment, the process includes assessing the risk of third parties as well. Here are the types of risks you must consider:
- Reputational risk: When a breach occurs, depending on its size, it can be big news. Consumer trust can be lost if they don’t believe you can safely protect their information.
- Compliance risk: Rules and regulations are important when it comes to cybersecurity. Failure to follow proper protocol is an easy way to become a victim of a cyber attack.
- Operational Risk: Similar to how rules and regulations are important, so too, is following internal processes. Usually, operational risk is due to careless mistakes or inadequate people or systems.
Minimizing Third Party Risk
Providing access to third parties is inevitable. However, there are simple ways to mitigate that risk. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has handy guidelines for protecting yourself:
- Identify: You must identify the most common potential threats you may face.
- Protect: Understand where you are weak and what needs the most protection, do your best to secure what could be most damaging.
- Detect: Your information security network must be fully monitored, so you may be alerted to any potential ongoing threats.
- Respond: There must be a plan in place in the case of attack.
- Recover: Once the threat has been neutralized, you try to mitigate the damage and salvage what you can.
Tools to Manage Third Party Risk
Trusted, experienced third-party risk management partners like RSI Security are typically armed with a full array of third-party risk management tools, so you can sleep easy knowing someone always has your back. When you hire RSI Security, there is a list of the third party risk management solutions you can expect:
1. Threat Intelligence
Sun Tzu, the author of the Art of War, said, “Know thyself, know thy enemy.” That is basically the thought process behind threat intelligence. Also known as Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI), threat intelligence gives organizations useful, tactical information about potential threats that face their company. Everything from Zero-day threats to Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are covered and analyzed through threat intelligence. In the world of cybersecurity, information is power and threat intelligence is one of many weapons in the cybersecurity arsenal.
2. Penetration Testing
Penetration testing is a critical part of cybersecurity. They put an information system’s security on trial. By acting as a hacker would, a penetration test checks an information system’s vulnerabilities, processes, and overall strength. After all, what’s the point of having a security system if you don’t test its efficacy? A failure to test the system would be considered gross negligence. That would be like building a bridge but not making sure cars can drive over it.
Penetration tests should be conducted annually and, not surprisingly, come in many different forms. There are also penetration tests that check your company’s compliance record. These compliance tests ensure that everyone is following safe security practices. The greatest security system in the world won’t be worth much if your employees don’t follow proper cybersecurity protocols.
3. Continuous Vulnerability Assessment Scans
As we have touched on many times, hackers are persistent, resourceful and smart. Therefore, your cybersecurity system must be as well. Vulnerability assessments are typically singular projects with a defined start and end date. However, if you only conduct a vulnerability assessment once a year, you potentially leave your organization exposed to threats.
That is why automated and manual scans should be conducted at random intervals. These scans, both manual and automated, will help keep your system clean of any wrongdoers.
4. Website Application Security Assessment
Web application security is cybersecurity but specifically for web-facing applications, websites and web services. It can be hard to wrap your mind around but cybersecurity requires many different facets to secure your entire organization properly. Web application security is another crucial phase in the ever-changing security environment.
5. Cloud Security Assessment
This includes services like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and the Google Cloud. Similar to how you need security assessment for your applications and web site, you need the same for your cloud. Whether you utilize Google, Amazon or IBM, the cloud is a vital tool that must be monitored, just like everything else. As cloud computing grows, so too, does the threat presented by hackers eyeing a growing market. Assessing, understanding and protecting the cloud is an absolute must.
6. Internet of Things (IoT) Security
Technology has given us a great many conveniences. Unfortunately, sometimes those conveniences can backfire. Everyone having a smartphone can be great for business, everyone is interconnected and communication is more rapid than ever. However, everyone having a smartphone connected to the company’s server can also be a security nightmare.
Such interconnection also creates opportunities for hackers. That is why the Internet of Things Security has become crucial for corporations and has even caught the eye of regulators. The smart companies have enacted Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies and limited access to sensitive areas. Some have outlawed personal phones for business altogether. Whatever your chosen approach, the Internet of Things Security is one of the most significant security challenges facing IT departments today.
7. Patch Management
Patching may sound overly simplistic but it is a requirement for any system management. Without patch management, hackers will feast on out-of-date security and run rampant through your sensitive information. Some of the most damaging information hacks, like the infamous Equifax hack, were due to simple lack of patching.
You may think of patching as simply listening to the various notifications from your computer, asking you to update. In reality, it is more complicated than that. It requires an understanding of your systems needs, potential threats and proper installation. Naturally, there is also a lot of testing involved to ensure that everything is running properly.
8. Root Cause Analysis
Inevitably there will be hiccups and issues within your information system. That’s just part of technology. The difference between an elite cybersecurity company and an average one is how they handle these issues. Some companies find and fix the problem but don’t dig deeper and look for an underlying cause. It’s easier that way and allows them to continually fix similar problems.
The best companies will use root cause analysis to uncover any underlying issues and differentiate them from causal factors. By spending more time on the issue you can, hopefully, solve it permanently, so it doesn’t crop up time and time again.
9. Risk Rating Report
As you can tell by now, third-party risk management tools involve a lot of assessing, monitoring and reporting. In the cybersecurity world, that is how you keep companies safe: by continually checking for threats and vulnerabilities and closing the loops as fast as possible.
Risk rating reports are just that, finding potential issues, addressing and managing them before they become larger issues. It would be awesome if cyber companies could put up an impenetrable wall that is absolutely foolproof but that’s just not the case. Cybersecurity is like guarding a prison; it takes around the clock vigilance to do the job right and manage risk.
10. Threat & Vulnerability Lifecycle Management
The CIA first developed the intelligence lifecycle and it is now utilized to protect information systems. The goal is to use the cycle of identification, assessment, classification, remediation, and mitigation to neutralize threats and vulnerabilities within an information system.
By utilizing this lifecycle, cybersecurity companies are continually taking in new information and working to be a step ahead of hackers. These life cycles have been designed with many layers of risk and vulnerability management programs to keep your company as safe as possible.
Third-party risk management tools are a vital part of a strong information security system. Finding a reliable company that provides complete protection against the litany of digital threats can be difficult. Just be sure whichever company you choose, that they offer all the services we have outlined here.
Third party security breaches are quickly becoming more pervasive, leaving many companies exposed. Without a full complement of services aimed at rebuffing, your company is at risk. Don’t find yourself paying for cybersecurity that only shields you from the most basic threats.
Thankfully, RSI Security has experience and expertise in keeping third-party data safe and secure. Whether you’re looking for a dedicated information security company or need advisory help in a variety of areas, RSI Security has all the cybersecurity services to keep yourself safe and profitable.