Vendor Risk Management: How to Keep Your Business Safe From Third-Party Risks


As a security professional, you understand the importance of staying up to date with emerging threats and industry best practices. One area where this knowledge is essential is vendor risk management – taking the appropriate steps to ensure that your business is not exposed to unacceptable risks when dealing with third-party vendors. In this blog post, we’ll break down what it takes to manage vendor risk through best practices and guideline implementations. From choosing vendors wisely and making informed decisions during contract negotiations to setting up monitoring processes before and after going live – learn how easy it can be for you to keep your business safe from 3rd party risks!

What is a Risk? And, How to Measure and Manage Risk?

A security officer working on dashboard on her computer.

Risk is generally defined as the potential of an uncertain event or a set of events that could cause a financial or operational loss. It can be viewed from two perspectives: risk assessment, which is the process of identifying, measuring, and assessing risks, and risk management, which is the process of developing strategies to manage those risks.

In order to effectively manage vendor risk, organizations need to understand how risks are measured and managed. Risk assessments help organizations identify and quantify their risks by collecting data about their vendors and analyzing them for any potential vulnerabilities. Through these assessments, organizations can determine if their current strategy needs to be modified in order to better protect them from third-party risks.

There is a simple formula to calculate the risk. The risk calculation typically involves the multiplication of the likelihood or probability of an event occurring by the impact or consequence of that event. The formula can be represented as follows:

Risk = Likelihood or Probability of Event x Impact or Consequence of Event

The resulting value represents the level of risk associated with the event and can be used to determine the appropriate risk management strategies to mitigate or manage the risk. To manage the risk, organizations should also consider implementing additional measures such as periodic reviews and audits of vendors’ processes, procedures, policies, and other activities related to their operations in order to ensure that they remain compliant with applicable laws and regulations. Additionally, organizations should review any contractual agreements with vendors carefully in order to identify any potential gaps in coverage or areas where additional protection may be needed.

By understanding how risks are measured and managed, organizations can develop a comprehensive risk management strategy tailored to their specific needs. This strategy should include measures for both preventative and corrective actions that will help protect them from third-party risks while ensuring compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. By taking these steps, organizations can ensure that they have an effective vendor risk management framework in place that will keep their business safe from outside threats.

The next section looks at what a vendor or third party is and how they can pose a threat to an organization’s operations or data security.

What Is a Vendor or Third-Party?

A vendor or third party can be described as an individual or business entity that has contracted with a company to provide goods and services. Vendor relationships are integral to many businesses, allowing them to outsource tasks that would otherwise require more resources in order to complete. Common types of vendors include suppliers, contractors, consultants, web developers, software engineers, hardware providers, and marketing firms. It is important for companies to carefully evaluate potential vendors before entering into any type of relationship in order to ensure they receive the best possible service for their needs.

What are Vendor Risks or Third-Party Risks?

The risk emerges from internal emtities or from outside vendors or third-parties; risk is a risk. You can’t conclude you are safe without validating the risk associated with your vendors. In soft, Vendor Risks or Third-Party Risks are the risks inhered from your Vendor. Vendor risks or third-party risks refer to any potential issues that could arise due to the activities of vendors, suppliers, contractors, sub-contractors, business partners, and other external organizations that are linked to your company. These risks involve financial loss, reputational damage, legal liability, data breaches, and other negative consequences that can be caused by the activities of vendors or third parties.

These risks can arise from various factors, including financial instability and cyber security flaws within the third-party’s system. As technology advances, these risks are increasingly becoming more difficult for organizations to identify and mitigate. It is important for organizations to understand the full scope of vendor risk management in order to ensure organizational resilience against potential threats from outside parties.

5 Common Vendor Risks Organizations Are Dealing With:

Organizations must also be aware of the common vendor risks they are dealing with, such as data security breaches, supply chain disruptions, inadequate service levels, unmet deadlines, unauthorized access to sensitive information, compliance violations, financial frauds, or misappropriations of funds. It is important to develop policies and procedures that address these risks in order to protect the organization’s assets from external threats.

Here are five common vendor risks that organizations often have to deal with:

  1. Financial Instability: Organizations may rely on vendors for critical products or services. If a vendor goes bankrupt or faces financial difficulties, it can lead to the disruption of supply chains and potential financial losses for the organization.
  2. Cybersecurity Threats: Vendors often have access to an organization’s sensitive data and systems. If a vendor’s cybersecurity measures are inadequate or compromised, it can lead to data breaches, theft of intellectual property, and other cybersecurity incidents.
  3. Non-Compliance: Vendors may not comply with regulatory requirements or industry standards. This can result in fines, legal action, and damage to the organization’s reputation.
  4. Operational Disruptions: A vendor’s operational disruptions, such as labor strikes, natural disasters, or technical issues, can lead to delays or interruptions in the delivery of products or services.
  5. Reputation Risk: The actions or statements of a vendor can reflect poorly on an organization. For example, if a vendor engages in unethical practices or is involved in a scandal, it can damage the organization’s reputation and brand image.

What Is Vendor Risk Management or Third-Party Risk Management? And How Do You Identify Vendors With High Risk?

Vendor risk management (VRM) or third-party risk management (TPRM) is an important component of a company’s overall security strategy. VRM involves assessing and managing the potential for risks associated with working with outside vendors, suppliers, or contractors. It entails identifying and mitigating potential risks from vendors that could create disruptions in the business, financial losses, or reputational damage.

 

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How Do You Identify Vendors With High Risk?

The Risk Assessment Process is the best practice for identifying Vendors with high risk. The first step in vendor risk management is to assess the organization’s current risk exposure by evaluating the types of vendors they are currently using and their level of compliance. This assessment should include looking at the vendor’s security policies and procedures, as well as their risk management approach. The assessment should also include evaluating how the vendor will respond to changes in regulations or customer requirements. Additionally, organizations should consider any previous issues experienced with their vendors and how those were addressed.

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Once the current risks have been identified, organizations can then move on to vendor selection – researching potential vendors to identify those that meet the organization’s needs and industry standards for security protocols. The selection process should take into account factors such as cost, service quality, experience, qualifications, industry certifications, compliance with regulations and contractual terms, customer references, and reviews. Organizations should also perform background checks on potential vendors to ensure that they are financially sound and trustworthy.

The last step in VRM is ongoing monitoring of existing vendors; this includes conducting regular reviews of vendor performance against agreed-upon service level agreements (SLAs), assessing new technologies used by vendors that may pose additional risks, tracking compliance with regulatory standards and contractual terms, reviewing customer feedback about services provided by each vendor, and performing periodic assessments of each vendor’s security posture.

By following these things, businesses can identify the Vendors with high risk and reduce their vulnerability to data breaches or other malicious activities caused by untrustworthy vendors while ensuring they stay up-to-date on all applicable regulations and industry standards. This provides organizations with a strong foundation for protecting their critical data assets while maintaining a secure operational environment in today’s digital age.

The Importance of Vendor Risk Management in Today’s Digital Age

Vendor Risk Management (VRM) is an important part of any business’s risk management system. This practice helps to identify, assess, and mitigate risks related to the use of third-party vendors. By managing vendor risks effectively, businesses can protect themselves from potential disruptions or losses that the unavailability or nonperformance of third-party vendors could cause. Here are some reasons why Vendor Risk Management is important:

  1. Mitigate Risks: VRM enables organizations to identify, assess and mitigate risks associated with third-party vendors. This helps organizations to minimize the risk of data breaches, regulatory compliance violations, reputational damage, and financial loss.
  2. Compliance with Regulations: Many regulatory bodies, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI-DSS, require organizations to have a VRM program in place. Compliance with these regulations is critical to avoid penalties and legal liability.
  3. Protects Reputation: A data breach or compliance violation by a vendor can damage an organization’s reputation. A VRM program can help organizations avoid reputational damage by ensuring that vendors adhere to security and compliance standards.
  4. Better Vendor Selection: VRM can help organizations select the right vendors by evaluating their capabilities and assessing their ability to meet the organization’s requirements. This can help organizations choose vendors that are reliable, secure, and compliant.
  5. Cost Savings: VRM can help organizations save costs by identifying and addressing risks early on in the vendor relationship. This can prevent costly data breaches, regulatory fines, and legal liabilities.

How Do You Conduct Vendor Risk Management?

Vendor risk management is a process of identifying, assessing, and responding to risks posed by vendors. It involves collecting information about potential and existing vendors, evaluating their services, understanding the associated risks, and developing strategies to mitigate those risks.

The steps to conducting a vendor risk management

The steps for conducting vendor risk management are outlined below:

  1. Identify the vendor and the services they provide. This includes basic information such as their name, the types of services they provide, and any other relevant details.
  2. Assess the potential risks associated with each vendor. This involves evaluating factors such as the type of service being provided, the data and systems being accessed, and any compliance or regulatory requirements that apply to them.
  3. Categorize the identified risks into different categories based on their severity and likelihood of occurrence. This helps prioritize which risks should be addressed first.
  4. Develop risk management plans for each identified risk category. These plans should include specific procedures for mitigating or avoiding potential threats, as well as protocols for ongoing monitoring and reporting.
  5. Review any existing contracts or agreements with the vendors to ensure that all safety measures are in place. This includes confirming that all necessary insurance policies are in place, proper indemnification clauses have been agreed upon, and there are appropriate security measures in place to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access or misuse.
  6. Evaluate the financial stability of each vendor by reviewing their financial statements and other relevant documents. This helps assess their ability to meet contractual obligations in a timely manner and can also reveal any potential financial instability that could create additional risks for your business down the line.
  7. Establish periodic reviews to ensure that vendors continue to meet all safety requirements over time. This includes regular assessments of their security practices, compliance with industry regulations, and overall performance metrics such as customer satisfaction levels or response times to service requests.
  8. Monitor changes in vendors’ operations including new services offered, personnel changes within key departments, or changes in company ownership structure that could potentially introduce new risks into your organization’s environment.
  9. Document all findings from each step of your assessment process so you can easily reference them later if needed. This helps identify areas where improvements can be made moving forward and ensures accountability across stakeholders involved in managing third-party relationships within your organization.
  10. Develop a risk management plan: Based on the assessment, you should develop a risk management plan that outlines the steps you will take to mitigate each risk. For instance, you might choose to monitor the vendor’s performance regularly or require the vendor to sign a confidentiality agreement.
  11. Take corrective action: If a risk does occur, you should take corrective action promptly. For instance, you might terminate the contract with the vendor or update the risk management plan to prevent similar issues from happening in the future.

What Are the Benefits of Vendor Risk Management?

The Benefits of Vendor Risk Management include the following:

  1. Improved customer experience – By assessing vendors for potential risks, businesses can better ensure their customers’ security and trust by verifying that all vendor engagements comply with contractual obligations. Having a thorough understanding of vendor health helps companies minimize customer impact from external threats or disruptions.
  2. Increased safety and compliance – Properly managed, VRM allows organizations to evaluate their vendors for compliance with relevant regulations and standards such as GDPR, HIPAA and PCI DSS. This can help mitigate potential legal and financial risks associated with non-compliance.
  3. Reduced costs – By utilizing a VRM program, organizations can reduce unnecessary costs related to vendor onboarding, contract negotiation and management, as well as financial or operational issues arising from inadequate vendor services or products. Additionally, companies may identify cost savings opportunities by reducing the number of vendors needed to provide a service or product.
  4. Improved performance – Through regular assessments of their vendors’ capabilities and services, businesses can ensure that they are receiving the best value for their money while maintaining quality standards in line with their objectives. This can lead to improved vendor performance over time and increased organizational success overall.
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Overall, Vendor Risk Management offers numerous benefits for organizations looking to optimize their risk management strategy and improve their bottom line.

Who Is Responsible for Vendor Risk Management?

When it comes to vendor risk management, it is important to understand who is responsible for developing and implementing a vendor risk management program. Generally speaking, the responsibility lies with the business that has established the relationship with the third-party vendor. This means that businesses must be proactive in creating effective vendor risk management procedures and policies. It also implies that businesses should take steps to ensure they are in compliance with any regulatory requirements related to managing third-party risks.

When you talk about the internal team or person in the organization, the responsibility lies with the organization’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). The CISO is responsible for ensuring that appropriate steps are taken to protect data and systems from malicious or unauthorized activities. This includes overseeing the risk management processes involved in onboarding and managing third-party vendors.

The CISO will typically lead a cross-functional team of stakeholders, which includes representatives from procurement, security operations, legal, compliance, and audit functions. This team will be responsible for assessing vendor risk and developing mitigation strategies as required.

Questions You Should Ask Your Vendors Before You Buy Their Product:

When it comes to vendor risk management, it is important to ask the right questions before you buy a product from a vendor. A good vendor risk management strategy requires understanding the potential risks associated with different vendors and evaluating their products in light of those risks. Asking your vendors the right questions can help ensure that you are getting a quality product that won’t put your customer data or business at risk.

Here is the list of questions we ask our Vendors before we buy their products.

  1. What security measures have you implemented to protect customer data?
  2. How often do you update your security protocols and software?
  3. Do you use encryption for customer data in storage and transmission?
  4. Does the product come with a warranty against unauthorized access or misuse of data?
  5. Are customer accounts protected by two-factor authentication or other identity verification methods?
  6. Will any personnel from your company require access to our system or customer data, and if so, how will it be secured during transmission?
  7. What processes do you have in place to detect any potential security breaches or vulnerabilities?
  8. How frequently are user passwords changed, and what criteria is used when creating them?
  9. How quickly do you respond to any security incidents that are reported?
  10. Do you offer any security training or resources to help us protect our system and customer data?
  11. Are there any third-party services or applications that your product connects with, and if so, how is their security verified?
  12. What measures do you take to back up customer data in case of a system failure or attack?
  13. How will customers be notified in the event of a data breach or other incident involving their information?
  14. Are there any regulatory compliance requirements specific to the product that we should be aware of?
  15. Does your company have an incident response plan for dealing with potential security threats or breaches?
  16. Can you provide references or customer case studies that demonstrate your product’s security capabilities?
  17. Do you offer any services to help customers stay up-to-date on the latest security best practices?
  18. What legal protection does our company have if there is a breach involving your product?
  19. Is there an independent body that regularly audits and verifies the security of your product?
  20. Are there any additional costs associated with implementing and maintaining the necessary security measures for this product?
  21. What is your policy for disclosing customer data to third parties?
  22. Are there any security features or settings that are not enabled by default but can be activated as needed?
  23. How do you handle customer requests for changes to their account security settings?
  24. Can customer access logs be viewable and analyzed for suspicious activities?
  25. Does the product have a bug bounty program in place?
  26. Are there any additional fees or charges related to using certain security features?
  27. How will customer data be secured against loss, alteration, or deletion due to system failures or other incidents?
  28. Is the source code of the product available publicly and if so, how often is it reviewed by independent experts?
  29. What measures are in place to limit access to customer data only to authorized personnel?
  30. How do you verify that any changes or updates made to the product won’t affect its security?
  31. What processes do you have in place for monitoring and reporting on potential vulnerabilities or threats?
  32. Do you offer any additional services to assist with the implementation, maintenance, and testing of our system’s security?
  33. Are there any certifications that validate the security of your product?
  34. Are your employees provided with regular training on information security best practices and policies?
  35. Does your company have procedures in place for responding to customer inquiries related to their account security or data privacy?
  36. How will you help us remain compliant with any data privacy regulations that apply to our system or customers?
  37. Are there any changes we should make to our own systems or processes in order to ensure the security of customer data when using your product?
  38. What measures do you take to protect customer data stored on servers and other IT infrastructure?
  39. How quickly can a customer’s account be locked down if their password is compromised or their access credentials are stolen?
  40. Is there an automated process for alerting us in the event of suspicious activity associated with a user account?
  41. Does your company have an incident response plan for dealing with potential security threats or breaches?
  42. Can you provide references or customer case studies that demonstrate your product’s security capabilities?
  43. Do you offer any services to help customers stay up-to-date on the latest security best practices?
  44. What legal protection does our company have if there is a breach involving your product?
  45. Is there an independent body that regularly audits and verifies the security of your product?
  46. Are there any additional costs associated with implementing and maintaining the necessary security measures for this product?
  47. What is your policy for disclosing customer data to third parties?
  48. Are there any security features or settings that are not enabled by default but can be activated as needed?
  49. How do you handle customer requests for changes to their account security settings?
  50. Can customer access logs be viewable and analyzed for suspicious activities?
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The Best Practises to Keep Your Business Safe From Third-Party Risks:

Vendor risk management is critical for all businesses as it helps to ensure that third-party risks are identified and managed in a timely manner. There are many different types of third-party risks, such as reputational, supply chain, financial, compliance, and operational risks. Identifying and managing these risks can help organizations to mitigate the potential for costly losses due to non-compliance with legal or regulatory requirements. In order to effectively manage third-party risk, organizations should follow some of these best practices to keep their business safe from third-party risks.

  1. Assess and Monitor Potential Risk: Carefully assess all third-party vendors to identify any potential risks they present and monitor them regularly throughout the duration of their involvement with your business.
  2. Perform Regular Security Audits: Conduct regular security audits of third-party vendors in order to ensure compliance across your entire vendor network and detect any issues early on.
  3. Create a Response Plan: Develop a comprehensive response plan in advance so that you are prepared to react quickly and appropriately if an issue arises from a third-party risk.
  4. Implement Strong Access Controls: Establish strong access controls for third parties that can limit their ability to interact directly with sensitive data or systems within your business environment, as well as impose certain restrictions on their access levels.
  5. Establish a Cyber Liability Insurance Policy: Secure a cyber liability insurance policy that provides financial protection in the event of a data breach or other security incident caused by third-party vendors.
  6. Implement Best Practices for Data Security and Reporting: Adopt best practices when it comes to data security and develop procedures for regularly reporting any activities performed by third parties within your business environment.
  7. Stay Up-To-Date with Regulations: Understand and stay up-to-date with all applicable regulations and laws related to vendor management, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and more, in order to ensure compliance across your organization.
  8. Develop an Actionable Vendor Agreement: Create an actionable vendor agreement that outlines the specific terms and conditions for third parties, such as data privacy obligations, acceptable use requirements, and more.
  9. Train Employees on Best Practices: Ensure that all employees are aware of and trained on best practices related to working with third-party vendors in order to reduce the risk of human error or negligence.
  10. Maintain Open Communication: Maintain open lines of communication with your vendor network in order to quickly identify any potential issues or concerns that may arise during their involvement with your business.

 

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The Best Vendor Risk Management Solutions Available in the Market

The market offers a wide range of vendor risk management solutions that can help businesses protect themselves from third-party risks. Businesses should choose a solution that fits their needs, budget, and security requirements. A good vendor risk management framework should include the ability to identify high-risk vendors quickly, manage data across all vendors, and conduct security compliance checks on a regular basis.

We thought of sharing a list of Vendor risk management solutions that you consider to evaluate for your business.

Note: The list doesn’t carry any sort of ranking. It’s just a list of products that are available in the market.

    1. BitSightBitSight provides continuous monitoring and risk assessment of third-party vendors using cybersecurity ratings. It offers real-time alerts and helps companies prioritize their risk mitigation efforts.
    2. RSA Archer: RSA Archer offers a comprehensive vendor risk management solution that allows companies to assess, monitor, and manage risks associated with third-party vendors. It provides workflow automation, issue tracking, and reporting capabilities.
    3. MetricStreamMetricStream offers a vendor risk management solution that includes a centralized repository of vendor data, automated risk assessments, and issue tracking. It also includes reporting and dashboard capabilities.
    4. CyberGRXCyberGRX provides a risk management platform that helps companies assess and manage third-party risk. It uses a data-driven approach to identify and prioritize risk and offers automated workflows to streamline risk management processes.
    5. PrevalentPrevalent offers a suite of vendor risk management solutions, including third-party risk assessments, continuous monitoring, and compliance management. It provides real-time risk intelligence and integrates with other security tools.
    6. OneTrustOneTrust offers a comprehensive platform for vendor risk management, including vendor onboarding, risk assessments, and ongoing monitoring. It also includes compliance management and reporting capabilities.
    1. ServiceNow: ServiceNow offers a vendor risk management solution that automates the entire vendor management process, from onboarding to offboarding. It includes workflow automation, risk assessments, and reporting capabilities.
  1. LogicGateLogicGate offers a cloud-based platform for vendor risk management that includes risk assessments, workflow automation, and compliance management. It provides real-time risk intelligence and integrates with other security tools.
  2. ProcessUnityProcessUnity offers a vendor risk management solution that includes risk assessments, due diligence, and ongoing monitoring. It provides automated workflows and reporting capabilities and integrates with other security tools.
  3. AravoAravo offers a vendor risk management solution that includes vendor onboarding, risk assessments, and ongoing monitoring. It provides workflow automation and reporting capabilities and integrates with other security tools.

Bottom Line:

Vendor risk management is an essential process for any business to protect itself from third-party risks. It should not be seen as a one-time task but as an ongoing process that requires regular monitoring and evaluation. Organizations must strive to understand the full scope of their vendor relationships, the associated risks, and how those risks can best be managed. The goal should be to create a culture of security by implementing processes and procedures to ensure that all vendors are properly assessed and monitored. 

Organizations must also ensure that they are doing their due diligence when selecting vendors and evaluating their products or services. As the old adage goes “If you buy cheap, you buy twice”; organizations should not sacrifice security for cost savings when it comes to selecting vendors. Finally, implementing effective vendor risk management solutions can help organizations minimize their risk exposure while also providing them with greater control over the data they share with third parties. 

Vendor risk management is a critical component in protecting businesses from third-party risks and ensuring that confidential data remains secure. Organizations must ensure that policies and procedures are in place to evaluate and monitor third parties, select reliable vendors, and implement effective security solutions to keep their business safe from threats posed by external actors.

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