~by Lizzie Weakley~
As a business owner, it is your sole responsibility to protect your company from third parties. These are the greatest threat agents to the sensitive data of your company. A few of the security practices that you should put in place to enhance the safety of your company include the following.
Get to Know What Your Vendors can Access Remotely
Set guidelines to prevent your vendors and contractors from having access to any of your company’s sensitive data. Start by ensuring third parties agree and comply with your contract terms and conditions. And ask them to provide their certificate of insurance so as to prove that they meet the required coverage based on the contractual insurance provisions entered into with your company. You don’t have to do this alone. You can use an insurance certificate tracking service to get this information.
You should also be able to retrieve any sensitive data your contractors or vendors do not need for doing their work. Doing these things are critical when you are working with infrastructure management partners since they often have freedom to access data that could pose a serious threat to your company if not secured properly. To be on the safe side, provide them access to data strictly on an as-needed basis.
Implement Two-factor Authentication
Equip your infrastructure management partners with two-factor authentication to guarantee application security irrespective of where they are located, whether on the cloud or on-premises. Cloud-based solutions are becoming more popular by the day because they are more affordable and easier to deploy than those that use hardware tokens.
Also, when you provide two-factor authentication for your contract employees, it means that you have complete control over their access. And if you can configure lockout and fraud settings, it will also help you to prevent brute-force (password guessing) attacks.
Conduct Regular Risk Assessments and User Security Training
Establish security policies that align with the objectives of your company. Rely on these details to conduct a risk assessment of the potential threats that are unique to your specific environment and to be clear on where third parties may fit into your work model.
Also, conduct user security training and ensure your contract employees know well what is required of them. Impart knowledge to your staff on how to spot a phishing email and fully understand why they should never type in your company’s credentials to a website linked in an email.
Where possible, restrict your vendors to have access to certain segments of the network. These segments should be ‘firewalled’ from others. This reduces the risk of a third-party information breach. And to ensure this security is not compromised in any way, provide tailored systems for vendors to make it impossible for any third party to connect to your company’s network.
Furthermore, you need to evaluate access controls and security guidelines frequently so you can identify security gaps. A real-time audit can show your IT department what others are accessing on your system and the reasons for doing that. This exercise enables you to be proactive and identify any problematic activity.
Evaluate Your Third-party’s Security Posture Periodically
Security assurance is a continuous process, so you need to do periodic audits. Carry out regular audits of your third parties to be sure they are abiding by industry-approved practices and have the right technical controls in place. Your objective should not be to audit each of your third parties you interact with, but to carry out a professional audit with higher frequency for strategically selected high-risk third parties.
The role of third parties is evolving and holding them accountable is a big job. You can seek the help of security companies out there to help you ensure they are doing their work of protecting your data.
Lizzie is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky, Snowball.