Mastering Third-Party Cyber Risks: Secure Strategies 2024

third-party cyber risks

Third-party vendors, suppliers, and service providers perform critical services and support operations. However, this interconnection poses a fundamental challenge: third-party cyber risk.

Organizations that share sensitive data and offer access to their networks and systems expose themselves to potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities resulting from third-party partnerships. Effectively managing third-party cyber risk has become a vital responsibility for enterprises across industries to protect their data, and assets, and preserve stakeholder trust.

Businesses frequently collaborate with outside companies for a variety of services. While teamwork is useful, it also increases the risk of intrusions. Consider this, if a company with whom you work is hacked, your information may also be compromised. This is where third-party cyber risk management steps in. It’s like ensuring that your digital partners’ doors have good locks to keep your shared information safe.

In this article, we’ll go over why controlling this risk is critical, the challenges involved, and simple measures to keep your data safe in this linked internet world.

What is Third-Party Cyber Risk?

Third-party cyber risk refers to the possibility of cybersecurity breaches or threats coming from outside entities with access to a company’s systems, networks, or sensitive data. These external organizations could be vendors, suppliers, contractors, partners, or service providers with whom a corporation communicates digitally.

Types of Third-Party Cyber Risk

These hazards can take many forms, and identifying them is the first step toward successful risk mitigation.

In this section, we will look at common dangers linked with external entities and give examples of real-world third-party cyber events.

1. Data Breaches

Third-party contractors may store or manage sensitive data on behalf of an organization. If these vendors encounter a data breach as a result of weak security measures, sensitive information such as customer data, intellectual property, or financial records may be compromised.

Mastering Third-Party Cyber Risks: Secure Strategies 2024
2. Supply Chain Attacks

Cybercriminals may target a third-party vendor or supplier to gain unauthorized access to an organization’s systems or networks. By compromising a trusted vendor, attackers can infiltrate the supply chain and use it as a gateway to launch attacks on the organization’s infrastructure.

3. Insider Threats

Third-party contractors or external vendor workers may offer security concerns, either purposefully or accidentally, by misusing their access privileges or mishandling sensitive information. Insider threats can cause data leaks, sabotage, or unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Mastering Third-Party Cyber Risks: Secure Strategies 2024
4. Compliance and Regulatory Risks

Organizations may be held responsible for their third-party contractors’ security policies, particularly in regulated industries. Failure of third-party vendors to comply with industry norms or data privacy legislation can result in legal and regulatory penalties, reputational damage, and loss of customer trust.

5. Weak Security Practices

Third-party providers may lack proper cybersecurity safeguards or use obsolete software, leaving them open to cyber attacks. Poor security practices, such as inadequate password management, a lack of encryption, or a failure to update security patches, can raise the risk of security breaches and jeopardize the integrity of shared data.

Mastering Third-Party Cyber Risks: Secure Strategies 2024

The SolarWinds breach of 2020 is a prime example of third-party cyber risks. Cybercriminals accessed SolarWinds’ software update servers and distributed malware to its customers, which included various government organizations and significant enterprises. This supply chain hack resulted in widespread data breaches and espionage activities.

Best Practices To Avoid Third-party Cyber Risks

Comprehensive vendor evaluation and due diligence are crucial elements of a strong cybersecurity strategy when it comes to controlling third-party cyber risks. We’ll discuss risk assessments and security audits as well as recommended practices for assessing the cybersecurity preparedness of outside partners in this section.

1. Risk Assessment

To determine the potential cybersecurity risks connected to each third-party provider, conduct a thorough risk assessment. Think about things like how sensitive the data is being shared, how important the vendor’s services are to your company, and how much access the vendor has to your networks and systems.

Mastering Third-Party Cyber Risks: Secure Strategies 2024
2. Due Diligence

Make sure you thoroughly investigate a third-party vendor’s cybersecurity posture before working with them. Request copies of their compliance certificates, policies, and processes for security. Examine their reputation, track record, and any prior security problems or breaches.

3. Security Audits and Assessments

Perform recurring security audits and evaluations of outside contractors to confirm that they are adhering to industry norms and contractual requirements. Employ internal audit teams or outside cybersecurity companies to conduct third-party risk assessment to assess the efficacy of the vendor’s security controls, find weaknesses, and suggest fixes that can reduce third-party cyber risks.

Mastering Third-Party Cyber Risks: Secure Strategies 2024
4. Training and Awareness

Offer cybersecurity awareness and training courses to staff members who deal with outside vendors. Inform them about security best practices, the dangers of dealing with third parties, and the steps involved in safely exchanging information with outside partners.

5. Continuous Monitoring

Put in place continuous monitoring systems to keep tabs on third-party providers’ security performance and actions over time. Make use of threat intelligence feeds, log analysis, and security monitoring technologies to find any unusual activity, questionable activity, or security breaches involving third-party connections.

Solutions Used For Third-Party Cyber Risk Management

Various tools and solutions are accessible to assist firms in efficiently handling cyber dangers posed by third parties. These tools provide a number of features, including as incident response, vendor monitoring, risk assessment, and compliance management. The following are some popular instruments and third-party risk management solutions

1. Vendor Risk Management (VRM) Platforms

VRM systems make it easier to handle third-party providers centrally and enable continuous cybersecurity performance monitoring. They assist companies in anticipating and reducing third-party cyber risks by offering services like vendor onboarding, risk assessment, compliance tracking, performance monitoring, and remediation workflows. MetricStream, RSA Archer, and OneTrust Vendor Risk Management are a few examples.

2. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Systems

Organizations may monitor and analyze security events and incidents, including those involving third-party connections, throughout their networks with the use of SIEM solutions. They gather and analyze log data from several sources, including endpoint security solutions, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems, in order to identify unusual activity, possible dangers, and security lapses coming from outside suppliers. Splunk, IBM QRadar, and LogRhythm are a few examples.

3. Third-Party Risk Intelligence Services

These services give businesses intelligence and actionable insights into the cybersecurity threats posed by their third-party suppliers. They find possible risks, vulnerabilities, and security incidents involving third-party connections by using threat intelligence feeds, vulnerability databases, and monitoring tools. CyberGRX, Recorded Future, and Kenna Security are a few examples.

4. Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) Platforms

Organizations can automate and simplify incident response procedures, especially those pertaining to cyber incidents involving third parties, by utilizing SOAR systems. In order to coordinate response activities, automate tedious procedures, and promote cooperation between internal teams and external partners during security events involving third-party suppliers, they integrate with security tools and systems. Palo Alto Networks Cortex XSOAR, IBM Resilient, and Splunk Phantom are a few examples.

In conclusion, firms that operate in the connected digital environment of today face serious hurdles due to third-party cyber risk. Businesses unintentionally expose themselves to potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities arising from third-party connections as they depend more and more on external vendors, partners, and suppliers to support their operations. Third-party cyber incidents can have serious repercussions, such as financial losses, reputational harm, and legal penalties in addition to data breaches.

However, businesses may successfully reduce the risks associated with third-party cyberattacks and improve their overall cybersecurity posture by putting proactive risk management policies into place and making use of the right tools and solutions. This include carrying out in-depth risk assessments, outlining precise contractual duties, putting in place reliable vendor monitoring systems, and encouraging cooperation and cybersecurity awareness in the workplace.


What is Third-Party Cyber Risks?

Third-party cyber risk is any risk brought on to an organization by external parties in its ecosystem or supply chain. Such parties may include vendors, suppliers, partners, contractors, or service providers, who have access to internal company or customer data, systems, processes, or other privileged information.

What is third party attacks?

Third-party breaches occur when sensitive data is stolen from a third-party vendor or when their systems are used to access and steal sensitive information stored on your systems.

Lichumon is an enthusiastic SOC Analyst with a keen interest in exploring the complexities of the dark web and human risk factors in cybersecurity. Despite being early in his career, his eagerness to learn and adapt sets him apart. Balancing vigilance and curiosity, Lichumon navigates the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape with a sense of determination and commitment to continuous learning.