As security teams spent the last year adapting to rapid digital transformation, the quick expansion left them spread thin, exposing new vulnerabilities for bad actors to exploit in the process. Perfect examples of this are the recent SolarWinds attack, increased ransomware incidents, and the pipeline attack. Each of these events has placed an emphasis on not only the importance of maintaining a strong security posture, which includes addressing all aspects of organizational cybersecurity from both the bottom-up and top-down, but also called out Vendor Risk Management (VRM) as a key focus area for C-suite members and security teams alike. Here we explore the relationship between the top-down cybersecurity structure and VRM starting with one role: the CISO. 

Explore the importance of vendor risk management: The Ultimate Guide to Vendor Risk Management 

The CISO & Vendor Risk Management 

When analyzing security posture from a top-down lens, we must start with the CISO. CISOs have a specific risk domain that they care about: Information Security. With the shift to the cloud, increased attacks, and the rapid shift to remote work structures, more organizations are sharing sensitive data with vendors, making VRM a critical component of the security structure for CISOs to focus on. As VRM’s criticality increases, it’s important to prioritize vendor risk management programs despite the challenges that come with taking on such a substantial task. 

Top Challenges for the CISO 

To appropriately focus on VRM, it’s important to understand the impact that digital transformation has had on your company’s vendor ecosystem. To begin assessing that impact, we must understand the four key challenges that influence the needs of a VRM program

  1. The shift to the cloud. 
  2. The increase in data (and its sprawl across many different applications). 
  3. The rise of cyberattacks (ransomware, etc.) and data breaches. 
  4. The prioritization of consumer trust that data is being handled ethically and securely. 

Each of these challenges directly correlates to the rapid expansion of the vendor ecosystem and works hand-in-hand to increase the risks that cybersecurity teams must consider when analyzing their security posture as related to vendor risk management.  

Learn more about managing vendor risk in our webinar: Expert Panel: How Do You Manage Vendor Risk? 

Solutions & Best Practices 

Enabling yourself, your team, and employees across all levels of your enterprise to understand vendor-associated risk is imperative to establishing a thorough vendor risk management program. When combating challenges rooted in rapid technological expansion, escalated data acquisition, and increased vendor quantity, there are 6 action items for the CISO to prioritize in order to maintain security in all aspects of your supply chain: 

  1. Clearly understand your vendors and their inherent risk scores
  2. Have a continual working knowledge of how vendors are assessed cross-organizationally. 
  3. Consistently and frequently measure KRIs (key risk indicators) and KPIs. 
  4. Operationalize a plan that ensures your VRM program that can scale with company growth. 
  5. Establish confidence in your vendor ecosystem and know that they can protect your data. 
  6. Create and regularly update contingency plans, should a vendor become unable to protect your data. 

How Can OneTrust Help? 

The OneTrust platform leverages expertise in VRMPrivacyGRC, and many other categories to deliver an immersive cybersecurity management experience. We enable you to gain visibility into all aspects of your organization’s security structure by building your VRM program from the ground up and enabling your team to automate assessments and risk mitigation, allowing you to holistically and consistently protect data.  

Specifically, OneTrust Vendorpedia’s Third-Party Risk Exchange offers out-of-the-box cyber risk scores, auto inherent risk scores, and a community of thousands of pre-completed vendor risk assessments, which asks questions specific to controls that matter most in the InfoSec sphere. Learn more today.   

Further reading:  

Blog: 10 Ways to Reduce the Cybersecurity Risks for Your Vendors and Third Parties 

Blog: What is Vendor Risk Management?

Blog: What is vendor management? 

Blog: Vendor Management 101 

Next steps:  

Webinar: Expert Panel: How Do You Manage Vendor Risk? 

Webinar: Are You a Trusted Vendor? 10 Things Every Customer Wants to Know 


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