Tip of the Week: How to Find Out if a Third-Party IT Provider is a Good Fit
The use of third parties has become a necessity to successfully complete the tasks that many businesses require to maintain their operations. Unfortunately, not all third parties follow the same stringent security standards, making your dealings with them somewhat laden with risks. As a result, an unfortunate catch-22 results for most businesses–they need third parties to maintain their business operations and processes, but the security risks that third parties pose to their data could result in lost business from a client whose information is compromised.
In a year-long timeframe, a reported average of $10 million was spent in reaction to security issues directly caused by issues with third-party negligence or straightforward malicious activity. Therefore, when working with third parties, it is important to not only set up precautionary measures to protect your business, but also to impress upon your staff how crucial it is that risk management initiatives are followed to the letter.
First of all, you will need to collect some information from the third party you are considering bringing into the fold. How does the vendor handle security and your data’s privacy? What protections have been put in place? Who will ultimately be able to access this data? Where is it going to be stored? For a safe and secure arrangement to be reached, all answers must subscribe to security standards that satisfy you. Identifying the weakest link in the data chain will assist you in establishing whether or not you are confident in your data’s security as a whole.
As for the administrative and organizational side of things, performing a vendor audit can help you establish risk factors. The next time you map out data within your own organization, extend that map to include your vendors. Determine who has access to what data and the risk factors each point of access presents, responding accordingly. More than one department should not be handling these responsibilities; rather, one of your departments on the administrative side of the business (such as legal or finance) should oversee the contracts made with third-party vendors and their contents.
On the topic of contracts, make sure that every agreement you make is in writing, with data access terms and conditions clearly described and agreed to in a service-level agreement (SLA). Once these conditions are met, you should perform regular audits to be sure that no potential risks have evaded your attention to that point.
As for your internal staff, there are particular methods to communicate the importance of managing risks that are proven more effective in increasing employee awareness of security and data protection’s value. Using a more positive tone while communicating how crucial risk management initiatives are to success can increase these results while still getting your message across to your staff. The risk of working with unsuitable third parties has shown a reported decrease of 71 percent as a result.
When approached mindfully, risk can be managed quite effectively. At Resolve I.T., we have excellent relationships with third party vendors by following very similar standards, as we handle our clients’ interactions with them on their behalf. Give us a call at (978) 993-8038 to find out more about this or any of our other IT services.