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The online world is teeming with cyber threats at the same time that data privacy regulations are being created and enforced. This means that your organization could very well suffer a data breach and would face stiff penalties for it—not to mention loss of customer loyalty. And since hackers often target third parties, assessing vendor risk is critical.

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But checking your third parties’ security posture can be tough. Companies that work with hundreds or even thousands of suppliers must assess each one separately to be certain that they maintain a strong cyber posture. While security risk assessments are necessary, they can be cumbersome, time-consuming and ineffective.

Yet they don’t have to be. Here are the top five features that an effective security risk assessment should contain:

1. Automation

If your third parties are completing security risk assessments on spreadsheets, it’s time to rethink your process. An effective security risk assessment should be easy to send and should be able to be completed within several hours. In addition, it should be easily scalable, so that you can rapidly send out your assessment to hundreds of suppliers. All of this is only possible with an automated third-party management process.

2. Customization

No security risk assessment is one-size-fits-all. It should be tailored to the business relationship you have with your supplier, giving more weight to those third parties who access your IT systems. The questions should not be set in stone. You should have the option of adding your own internal company policies to the questionnaire, or even switching the language to make it easier for foreign suppliers to complete it.

3. Regulatory readiness

Do your suppliers need to comply with GDPR? Your security risk assessment should be able to determine their readiness. Key questions that might be asked for GDPR readiness include, for example, whether personal data can be erased upon request, and if the third party collects and stores data in a lawful and transparent manner. An effective assessment should ask the right questions to measure compliance.

4. Trackability

Your security risk assessment must be monitored closely. This means that you should be able to see at a glance when it was sent, how much has been answered and when it’s completed. If something is not answered properly, you should be able to easily reach out to the supplier for clarification.

5. Rectification

Once the assessment is complete, you and your third parties should be able to dispute findings in a straightforward manner. In addition, your suppliers should be given the opportunity to mitigate any issues and then have their findings updated accordingly.

Ultimately, your security risk assessment should be an effortless way to create and strengthen business relationships with your suppliers. It should provide you with the information you need to assess third parties’ security posture, and the ability to easily engage with them to close any cyber gaps.

Want to see what an effective security risk assessment looks like? Contact us to learn more.

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