Is your company’s data at risk? Do the vendors you trust can have access to your sensitive data? The vendors you rely on may be a crucial part of your business success, but they also present a security threat since your security is as strong as their security.
Since you are investing, you may assume that your company is protected. Unless you have checked your policies of all your partners, you might be putting your company at risk. Most of the data breached comes from third-party partners, vendors, and even customers. Even though your security is not as secure as you thought it would be, then you can take these steps on avoiding a supply-chain attack.
When you follow these steps, your vendor risk management is doable. Here, are four steps on how to keep your company’s sensitive data safe:
- Security policies need to be top priority for you and your sellers.
What are your initial considerations when accepting a third-party seller? If safety and security is not a part of your considerations, then you are gravely putting your company’s security and data at risk. It does not matter if you have a robust security system in place. Your network’s cybersecurity and privacy are only as strong as your weakest member, which includes your online sellers. It is not going overboard, then, to require a certain level of cybersecurity and privacy management and mitigation capacity for any online vendor that wants to partner with you. Whatever standard you employ in your company must flow to them as well, as they are going to be part of your company and have access to your company’s data and consumer base.
Before legally binding a third-party partnership, you must have looked into, verified and approved the following from your prospective partner’s end:
- Online seller’s capacity for cybersecurity measures, mitigation and maintenance and internal/external resources they use
- Seller’s security policies and frequency of checks and assessments
- Seller company’s protocol in managing access to your company’s data
- External audits for their cybersecurity measures
- Security protocols and response time in case of security attacks and data breach
- Cybersecurity insurance and the extent to which the seller shares financial, legal and labor risks in case of a security breach
- Include your IT team your partner and vendor reviews.
Does IT department play a role in your buying process? There are a lot of technical considerations needed to be determined at the onset that demands your IT team’s knowledge and skill. They need to be involved even in drafting buyer’s protocol so all security and privacy considerations are included in great detail. These details come in handy especially when legal actions need to be taken place within and around the third-party contract. The IT team can study the seller’s proposal to check if there are security risks or issues, even before a partnership is established. It saves you the trouble and the risk of entering into business deals with untrustworthy or scrupulous vendors. It is crucial to assess any risk and meticulously manage it by evaluating their file security protocols and understand how they manage their own cybersecurity. These are considerations that your management team is not adept at. Including your IT team in decision making is a smart move you need to make as protocol for all vetting, buying and partner-maintenance processes.
- Contracts need to clearly define your company’s security protocols, expectations, and non-compliance measures.
I can’t emphasise it enough that at the onset, even upon application and vetting of prospective partners, indicate what security protocols you require from partners, and that these standards need to be maintained all through-out the partnership. Non-compliance may result to cancellation of contract and depending on the nature of the security breach or protocol, any legal actions that would be taken by your party in the case of non-compliance. Including your expectations and your vendors’ commitments in the contracts and service level agreements ensures that security measures are in place, which is one of your utmost commitments to all your consumers. The level of security used by third-party sellers is integral to your company’s overall security strategy so it must be safeguarded all throughout.
Going through the arduous process of checking, vetting, and verifying all potential third-party seller ensures you are protecting your consumers excellently.
- Carefully screen your employees and their activities within your company and your network.
You need to carefully screen your employees. You are an online seller, and day by day, handle a lot of customer’s sensitive information. You need to have employees that are not just competitive but also trustworthy. Trust is such a crucial element in your business that you need to gain and guard at all costs. Losing consumer’s trust with a security breach can be very costly. You may have to face legal consequences, may have to reimburse payments or compensate for damages, and worst of all, lose your consumers for good and tarnish your company’s name permanently. Experience tells us that even when a company is able to bounce back from something as damaging, there are things lost that they were not able to regain. Your employees must uphold your company’s reputation and abide by security and privacy protocols to the highest degree.
Consequently, your third-party sellers must also have screened their employees and should be confident to vouch for those that will be handling business matters connected to your company.
The vendors in your business may be trustworthy, but sometimes, they can unexpectedly put your company in jeopardy. Most often, it is unintended, but at times, it can be malice-driven with the intent of harvesting sensitive data from your company, or other cybercrimes. Your data management system and cybersecurity should be top priority, not just for your company, but also for every third-party seller coming into the fold of your business and brand.
Ramon has been writing about technology trends, entertainment, and gaming ever since he left the busy world of corporate HR
Tech behind. He currently writes about software and user experiences for Softvire Australia – the leading software e-Commerce company in Australia and Softvire New Zealand. In his spare time, Ramon writes science fiction, collects little yellow men and plastic spaceships.