Although vendors may be important when it comes to the successful operation of your enterprise, implementing measures to protect your client data from leaking is equally vital.Using vendors inevitable irrespective of whether you are utilizing payroll processor or SaaS marketing platform. Nevertheless, you are required to put in place a system that ensures that the databases that you share with all your vendors are safeguarded from criminals. To achieve this, you have to come up with a management plan in a bid to know the threats that the vendors pose to your data.
Vendor Management Plan
This plan helps in establishing the rules that alleviate the risks that a third-party vendor not only poses to your data but also customers. Hence, if you want to avert the misuse of private information, make sure that all your vendors undergo regular accountability assessments, particularly through management plans system.
Step 1: Categorize the Information Accessible to Vendors
Keep in mind that the information that any of your vendors accesses automatically determines their level of risk. In fact, you have to identify the asset that the vendors use to access the information in an attempt at determining their levels of safety prior to accepting any contract with them. For this particular case, you must answer all the following questions to evaluate your vendors’ risk level:
- What function do vendors play in my company or organization?
- What employees’ information will the vendor need?
- What customers’ information will the vendor ask for?
- What organization’s information will the vendor require?
- Will the vendor access the company’s networks and systems? If so, which ones?
- How long will the vendors access the networks and systems?
Aside from asking yourself the above questions, ensure that you know more about the particular vendor. In turn, utilize the information to assess the risk that your organization exposes itself to be dealing with that vendor. Furthermore, clearly outline how they will assist you in attaining your goals and determine the amount of data they need to do so.
Step 2: Identify the Risk Tolerance for Vendors
Upon identifying the information that your vendor will require, put in place a risk tolerance plan to assist you in accepting, mitigating, transferring or refusing the risks. After doing so, ensure that you ask yourself these questions:
- What is the function of the vendor in my enterprise activities?
- What amount of customers’, employees’ and organization’s information does the vendor require?
- How many systems and networks does the vendor need to access?
Make sure that you only accept a risk that is highly vital for the success of your organization. For instance, when dealing with two vendors including an email distribution vendor and cloud service provider, your IT department will store all the electronic data via the cloud provider whereas the marketing department will distribute information through emails.
Step 3: Come up with a Procedure to Guide Vendor Relationship
Your contract with any given vendor ought to be detailed and contain the necessary information about the safety of all the data they handle. The service level agreement is not only binding but should also clearly detail the functions of the vendor. What’s more, it ought to explain the need for the vendors to finalize the projects within the stipulated time while making sure that they adhere to all the organization’s security requirements. Here is what your document ought to contain:
- Controls for information access
- The protocols for authorizing access
- Liability and security incidents
- Training requirements for the security awareness of the employees
- Update requirements for the systems and networks of the organization
- Security protection measures for systems and networks
- Requirements for password management
- Encryption and decryption prerequisites
- End-point security requirements
Make sure that your vendors are well-aware of your security expectations. Also, allow them to commit to the outlined requirements. In addition, ensure that you only go for vendors with a relatively low-risk level. For instance, avoid a vendor who does not offer multi-factor authentication services, particularly if your company already performs due to the high risk involved.
Step 4: Ongoing Vendor Monitoring
Bear in mind that the mistakes vendors make can compromise your data, as their security status is comparable to the risk your organization is exposed to by dealing with them. Worst case scenario, you may even lack the proper direct control of their operations. Nonetheless, follow these strategies to ensure that you remain updated on their operations:
- Check and review SOC reports
- Frequent site visits
- Check IT architecture
- Engaging the vendor frequently
- Study internal audit document
- Request for penetration testing document
- Review security documentation
Thoroughly monitoring the vendor calls for you to trust them to uphold all the agreements stipulated in the contract while verifying the trust by going through the documents.