In today’s hyper-connected, Internet of Things (IoT)-driven corporate environment, companies place a serious amount of pride and attention on data security measures and cybersecurity. This attention is justly placed: in the first half of 2018 alone, over 4.5 records were compromised by unauthorized parties. While organizations are taking serious steps towards beefing up their own security wards and investing large amounts of time and resources towards cybersecurity efforts, there will always be a definite chink in any company’s security armor: supply chains.
While companies are focusing on internal cybersecurity fortifications, outside vendors and supply chain partners are often less secure. Even with diligent security protocols and questionnaires in place, there are often gaps in the system where security measures can slip through the cracks. When this happens, both sides of a supply chain vendor agreement are at risk.
Regardless of the size or sophistication of your InfoSec operation, the supply chain will always be at-risk for malicious activity because of the blind faith in outside vendors. One of the best examples is the Target data security breach of 2013. While Target’s security protocol remained intact, hackers were able to access the retail giant’s data through an HVAC subcontractor with access to Target’s security privileges.
Fortifying the supply chain and proactively mitigating risk starts with transparency. While it may be a difficult conversation at first, corporations and vendors must have the difficult security conversation in order to ensure there is nothing amiss on either side of the agreement. This is a basic standard of trust and highlights the professionalism and credibility of both parties.
Key Steps to Fortifying the Supply Chain:
There are a few actionable steps organizations can take to proactively fortify the supply chain and mitigate further cybersecurity risk:
Create an internal supply chain risk management plan
While most CISOs hope with every fiber of their being that a data security breach won’t happen, that’s not always the case. The best way to prepare for the worst case scenario is to have a clear internal supply chain risk management plan in pace. This means your internal team needs to develop an actionable, step-by-step list of policies to govern what should happen if a security breach ever occurs.
Building a risk management team is a great exercise for security teams of all sizes because it helps identify the ‘ideal vendor profile’ for your organization. As you’re going through different types of documentation, various professional questionnaires, and other assessments, make a note of your perfect vendor. In the long run, this will help your team identify what a poor vendor profile looks like for your organization. This also means that your internal security management team and supply chain management team need to exercise vigilance and diligence when it comes to ensuring that only the right vendors are partnering with your organization.
Prioritize visibility and transparency
While your internal team may prioritize vendor security compliance and take a strong interest in supply chain cybersecurity compliance, this doesn’t mean that all of your long-term vendors and partners share your same values or outlook. The best way to ensure 100% vendor security compliance is to be completely transparent and truthful with your vendors and partners. Let them know exactly what you’re looking for in an ideal partner — and what you’re not. Additionally, make sure you share your new cybersecurity values with your internal employees and stakeholders. This way, cybersecurity and data compliance can become part of your organization’s everyday vernacular and focus instead of just being an issue when something critical happens.
Implement a secure vendor risk management solution
In order to always stay on top of supply chain risk assessments, implementing an internal cyber-risk management program is the best way to ensure long-term compliance. With a secure vendor risk management solution, your team can easily send potential vendors your updated documentation or security compliance mandates. On the other side, your team can quickly respond to incoming security assessments to ensure your reputation stays above-board in the industry. With a simplified vendor risk management solution, your InfoSec team can stay on top of potential security threats while effectively closing the gaps in the supply chain.
Want to learn more? Request a Live Demo with a Whistic Product Specialist or check out the resources below for more best practices on the Third Party Risk Management (TPRM) front.