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Why Third-Party Vendor Management Matters for Your Business

When you think of insider threats you most likely picture a disgruntled employee, wearing sunglasses and carrying a briefcase, hacking into your systems at 3 am and stealing proprietary information to sell on the dark web. While disgruntled employees account for some internal threats, your third-party vendors are far more likely, by 51%, to be the cause of breaches. This makes third-party vendor management an important part of any successful cybersecurity strategy.

Target and Home Depot are two large corporations who had credit card information stolen after a third-party vendor breach. If hackers can breach huge, tightly secured organizations like these, what are the chances that your small to medium-sized business is safe?

Remember that SMBs are targeted in 43% of all cyberattacks. The reasons your business will be squarely in the crosshairs of an attack are because of your smaller size. Hackers gamble that your business will not have cybersecurity protections in place and may not have an IT department on staff to handle security. They also think that you rely on ineffective “boxed” antivirus solutions, and don’t install security patches as frequently as you should.

Some hackers aren’t concerned with your business, though. They go straight to the treasure trove of information your third-party vendors store. Why rob an ATM when you can get more money by robbing the bank itself?

What is a Third-Party Vendor?

Before we dive deep into third-party vendor management, we need to understand what a third-party vendor is to begin with. Chances are you don’t think about how many third-party vendors you deal with every day, from your landscapers to your accountants and every service in between.

A third-party vendor is any business or organization that you have hired outside of your business to perform services or provide the products you use. For Iconic IT, Dell would be considered a third-party vendor. Your third-party vendor could be your lawyers, contractors working in the office, or any company that brings supplies to your office.

This may seem innocent on the surface, but when you think about the things you hire a third-party vendor to do, it gets a little more complicated. Who does your company use for payroll? What banking institution does your company use? What point-of-sale software do you use? Every one of these is a third-party vendor, and each one is a potential source of a cybersecurity breach.

What is Third-Party Vendor Management?

Third-party vendor management is the process of vetting the companies you use for your supplies and services. This process includes understanding who your vendors are, how secure the vendor is, and continuously monitoring them for compliancy and cybersecurity practices.

Auditing All Third-Party Vendors Associated with Your Business

The first step in third-party vendor management is to list all third-party vendors and the services or products they provide for your business. Only 34% of businesses know all of their third-party vendors; you’d be surprised at how many vendors you interact with on a daily basis.

Assessing Third-Party Risks

It’s important to do your research on all third-party vendors, especially those who will have access to your sensitive data, files, or financial information. Has this vendor been breached before? Are there negative reviews online for this vendor? How responsive is this vendor to cyberthreats?

Fourth-Party Vendor Vetting

It’s like the adage, who delivers the mailman’s mail? Your third-party vendors also use third-party vendors to bring them supplies and services. It’s important to look at the vendors servicing your vendors.

Regulatory Compliance

Is your third-party vendor compliant with the rules and regulations governing your industry? HIPAA, for instance, is very strict about their privacy laws; if your third-party vendors do not meet their standards, you can find yourself in a costly violation nightmare.

Classifying Vendor Permissions

Not all third-party vendors need access to your sensitive data. Your landscaper, for instance, doesn’t need to access your financial data; in fact, some vendors don’t need any network access at all.

Reviewing Your Service Level Agreements

Third-party vendor management will include looking over your service agreements to make sure you are getting all your contracted services and products.

Monitoring

Once the initial vetting is complete, comprehensive third-party management plans include ongoing monitoring of your vendors to make sure they remain secure and compliant.

Third-party vendor management is a way for you to keep track of external organizations that have access to your sensitive or proprietary data.

Five Reasons Your Business Needs an Iconic IT Third-Party Vendor Management Plan

No matter how long you’ve worked with your third-party vendor, or how much you trust your partnership with them, they should be properly vetted. If a breach occurs, you will be held partially responsible even if it was due to a third-party vendor error.

If you have the resources and time, you can perform your own third-party management strategy. Most businesses, however, don’t have either and need to turn to a managed services provider.

MSPs, like Iconic IT, are uniquely qualified to vet your vendors. Here are a few reasons to let Iconic IT handle your third-party management strategies.

Third-Party Management Strategies Take Time and Resources

When you consider all the vendors you use, you can understand how much time will be devoted to a third-party management plan. On average, companies interact with over 180 vendors per week, far too many for businesses to manage alone. Your IT department can handle some of the burden, but they are already busy dealing with your business’ daily IT needs.

Iconic IT provides your small to medium-sized business with thorough third-party management solutions that don’t impact your own employee productivity.

Iconic Can Provide Immediate Remediation

Iconic IT can react to security threats in ways that you can’t. If a third-party vendor is found to be risky for your business, we can start correcting and solving the threats immediately.

Iconic IT can detect risky third-party practices and start mitigating the threats immediately.

Iconic IT Follows Up with Third-Party Monitoring

After the third-party risk assessment has been completed, it’s important to follow up with the companies periodically and make sure they remain secure and compliant.  

Iconic IT implements a follow-up and monitoring strategy after vetting third-party vendors to ensure they continue to meet industry standards of compliancy and security.

Regulatory Compliance

In some verticals, a thorough third-party management plan isn’t just a good idea; it’s a requirement. Trying to stay ahead of local and federal guidelines, rules and regulations is a challenge Iconic It is uniquely qualified to handle for your business.

Iconic IT can help your company ensure that all vendors are compliant with regulatory requirements.

Turn to the Pros for Third-Party Management Solutions

Iconic IT is uniquely qualified to provide your small to medium-sized business with third-party management solutions that fit their needs. Contact us today for a risk-free, no obligation IT audit and see how our third-party management strategies can help your business stay safe and compliant.

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