The Importance Of Third Party Vendor Risk Management In The Age Of Cyber Threats

In the age of cyber threats, third-party vendor risk management is more crucial than ever. It guides firms away from potential cyber pitfalls that external collaborations might introduce.

As businesses broaden their networks and collaborate with external partners, they wade deeper into this digital quagmire. Enter third-party vendor risk management (TPRM).

Beyond the technical jargon, TPRM is our map and compass in this treacherous terrain, guiding firms away from potential cyber pitfalls that external collaborations might introduce.

In today’s world, dominated by a maze of cyber threats, understanding and implementing TPRM isn’t just advisable—it’s imperative.

The Increasing Risks Posed By Third-Party Vendors

Picture this: Today’s businesses, in pursuit of agility and efficiency, are like massive webs, each strand representing a third-party vendor. From IT support to cloud services and payroll processing, external entities intertwine with an organisation’s heartbeat.

But here’s the twist:

  • Data Breaches: Envision entrusting sensitive customer data to an external chef in your kitchen, only to discover they spilt the secret sauce all over town. This results in lost trust, potential financial downfall, and a smeared reputation.
  • Cyberattacks: Think of a vendor as a backdoor. If they’re not vigilant, they might leave it open, allowing unwanted guests (hackers) to sneak into your home (organisation).
  • Intellectual Property Theft: Sharing a secret recipe with an external consultant? Without proper safeguards, you might find your unique dish served across town.

The underlying message? As businesses expand their vendor networks, meticulous oversight becomes a good and vital shield against looming threats.

Some Examples Of High-Profile Third-Party Vendor Risk Incidents

  • 2017 Equifax Data Breach: The Equifax data breach was one of the largest data breaches in history. Over 147 million people were affected by the Equifax breach due to a vulnerability in the company’s third-party software system. This led to losing sensitive personal information like Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and birthdates.
  • 2018 Marriott Data Breach: The Marriott data breach affected over 500 million guests and was caused by a vulnerability in a third-party cloud-based system that Marriott used. The breach lead to the loss of sensitive personal information.
  • 2020 Solarwinds Hack: The SolarWinds hack was a sophisticated cyberattack that affected several government agencies and Fortune 500 companies.The hack was caused by a vulnerability in a SolarWinds software update used by many organisations. The attackers could exploit the vulnerability to access the organisations’ networks and steal sensitive data.
  • 2021 Kaseya Ransomware Attack: The Kaseya ransomware attack was a significant ransomware attack that affected over 1,500 businesses. The attack was caused by a vulnerability in many companies’ Kaseya software products. The attackers used the vulnerability to encrypt the businesses’ data and demand a ransom payment in exchange for decryption.
  • 2022 Okta Data Breach: The Okta data breach affected over 300 customers, including several Fortune 500 companies. The breach was caused by a vulnerability in a third-party vendor that Okta used. The attackers could exploit the vulnerability to access Okta’s systems and obtain data about Okta’s customers.

These are just a few examples of high-profile third-party vendor risk incidents. These incidents demonstrate the importance of TPRM and the need for organisations to protect themselves from these risks.

The Importance Of Having A Comprehensive TPRM Program

In the age of collaborations and extended networks, Third Party Vendor Risk Management isn’t just a fancy term; it’s the compass guiding businesses safely through the wilderness of external partnerships.

So, why should an organisation embrace a full-fledged TPRM program? Imagine setting out on a trek. You wouldn’t start without a map, some research on the terrain, or a local guide. Similarly, third-party vendors are uncharted territories in the business world.

A well-structured TPRM is your map, and its components are the tools in your backpack.

  • Risk Assessment: This is the survey. It’s about gauging the lay of the land, identifying where potential dangers like quicksands (or cyber vulnerabilities) might lie.
  • Vendor Due Diligence: Consider this a background check on your trekking guide. Are they reliable? Have they led people into trouble before? In business terms, has the vendor had security breaches in the past?
  • Monitoring: This is your continuous weather check. Conditions can change, and new risks can emerge. By keeping a watchful eye, you’re always prepared.
  • Remediation: If things go south, this is your survival kit. It’s about having contingency plans and swiftly addressing any issues that arise.

TPRM programs equip organisations to identify and mitigate the risks that third-party vendors might introduce.

The Latest Trends In TPRM

Using ML And AI To Automate Risk Assessments:

Organisations increasingly rely on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automate risk assessment. This can help organisations reduce the time and resources required to conduct risk assessments and identify risks that manual methods may not identify.

The Increasing Focus On Supply Chain Risk Management:

The complexity of the supply chain poses risks to third-party vendors. As a result, there is an increasing focus on supply chain risk management (SCRM). SCRM involves identifying and mitigating the risks posed by third-party vendors in the supply chain.

The Use Of Risk-Based Decision Making:

Risk-based decision-making (RBM) is an approach to decision-making that considers the risks involved in a decision. RBM is increasingly used in TPRM to help organisations make informed decisions about third-party vendors.

The Use Of Continuous Monitoring:

Continuous monitoring is monitoring third-party vendors continuously to ensure they meet the agreed-upon security standards. Continuous monitoring is becoming increasingly important as the threat landscape continues to evolve.

The Use of Blockchain:

Blockchain is a decentralised ledger technology that tracks and records transactions, eliminating intermediaries for faster, secure, and transparent transactions. Blockchain is being explored as a way to improve the transparency and traceability of third-party vendors.

These are just some of the latest trends in TPRM. As the threat landscape evolves, organisations must adapt their TPRM programs to stay ahead.

Final Words

Third Party Vendor Risk Management is the sentinel, safeguarding businesses from potential harm. As we conclude, it’s paramount to emphasise that TPRM isn’t merely an option but a critical imperative for organisations navigating the dangerous waters of today’s digital landscape.


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